Chef Singh Manoj Butola, the executive chef at Forest Cottages did a diploma in hotel and catering Management from Bharat Vocational Institute in New Delhi, India. Thereafter, he worked for Joss Catering & Allied, Wood House in Mumbai. Then, at Food Mark he rose from commi to oriental chef with the rank of executive sous chef. With more than 17 years in the food industry, he has no regrets.
In 2014, Sudhir Ruparelia approached Butola asking if he would relocate to Uganda and work for Forest Cottages. “I grabbed the chance with both hands and I have been able to refine my culinary abilities to a higher degree,” says Chef Butola. He share more about his career.
Tell us about your kitchen ethos.
To run a well-organised kitchen working with cooperative staff as well as being self-motivated and always willing to learn more.
I insist on hygiene without compromise or substitute, good and healthy nutrition and above all I’m a team builder. One can achieve results by working as a group.
What are your culinary highlights so far?.
Working in India was challenging and I achieved wide and extensive experience in the culinary arts. In Uganda, I have handled many VIP and celebrity functions and parties. In Uganda, I have rendered my services to the United Nations staff and EU members which is a commendable achievement for me.
Which chefs have influenced you the most and why?
Chef Raul Fernandes, executive chef Joss C&A in Mumbai taught me a lot and motivated me to work hard. He made me what I am.
If you had to choose four favourite cookbooks, what would they be?
Bountiful by Todd Porter
Indian Kitchen by Richa
The Complete Wok Sunset Books.
Off Duty—The World’s Greatest Chefs cook at home.
What is your favourite kitchen gadget?
• The wok because I have a passion for making oriental food, and without it one would feel handicapped.
• It goes without saying that a good set of kitchen knives are indispensable in any kitchen.
Tell us about your most memorable dining experience.
• Dining at the JW Mariott, Mumbai with my managing director, Mr Dimpy Abrol where we had fantastic black sushi caviar.
• For the first time in my life I had boneless crocodile steak in garlic sauce which had a memorable and incredible taste at The Lawns,Kampala.
Any food item that you hate to admit to liking?
What is your favourite dish?
Japanese sushi because I worked at a Japanese restaurant for five years.
Tell us about your worst experience in the kitchen and how you handled it?
While training, I overcooked a full batch of rice for a big party and the results were disastrous. Needless to say, I was charged for it and from that day onwards, I have learnt to be careful and circumspect.
What inspires you to cook?
Trying new and different dishes and satisfying my guests with delicious food.
Food you would travel for across the globe?
Lebanese wraps and rolls
What three food items would you consider indispensable?
Eggs, flour and oil.
Your take on the state of the culinary affairs in Uganda.
It is bright and developing because many people want to try out and enjoy different types of food hitherto unknown to them. Ugandans have evolved into sophisticated foodies who not only crave good food but will gladly pay for it.