As with most chefs, this one's romance with food began at a young age, and not just by watching his mother cook. "I travelled all over and sampled a lot of local dishes thanks to my father's job," says Soumya Goswami. But, the career of this Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine at the Oberoi Group has certainly not been a measured progression.
Goswami did his schooling at La Martiniere, Kolkata, studied Botany for a year in college, hated it and then went to the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition. "I had friends working in this profession, and really liked their work," he says. Then he went to the Oberoi School (now OCLD) in 1993, and stayed on with the group, after starting out at The Krishna Oberoi in Hyderabad and boutique hotels Rajvilas in Jaipur and Vanyavilas in Ranthambore.
He says his stints at Rajvilas and Vanyavilas were his most notable: "They were in the middle of nowhere, and it was about starting from scratch. I encouraged local farmers to produce for us." Specialising in Italian, pastries, Hyderabadi and Bengali food, Goswami has catered to the likes of Mukesh and Anil Ambani, Bill Clinton, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Warren Buffett.
He has launched eight restaurants, four hotels and two cruise liners, including the e600-a-night Nile cruiser Zahra, and the Oberoi Patisserie and Delicatessen at The Oberoi, New Delhi. He works for over 14 hours a day, but finds time to read. Not your usual thrillers. "I have over 600 cookbooks and cannot go to bed without reading one," he says. He plans to launch a cookbook next year, with pictures shot by him. (Photography is another passion.)"If you look at this as a job, then you can't be a good chef. It has to be a vocation. It has to be a hobby."
40, Executive Chef and Chef de Cuisine, The Oberoi Group
Been there: Helped set up premium properties, including the Nile Cruiser Zahra
Done that: Set up the Patisserie at The Oberoi, New Delhi, and helped with the Trident Gurgaon launch
Anecdote: At Rajvilas, Bill Clinton told me my apple pie was better than what he gets back home. That felt great as the apple pie was born in America
Don't gift him: A cookbook. He has 600 of them