Interview with Executive Chef Dhani Limboo
Where did you grow up?
I was born and grew up in a province called Lossing Machong in the North East Himalayan state of India bordering Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.
What was your favorite meal growing up?
I loved local Sikkimese dishes like Thukpa (noodle-based soup with vegetables or meat), Momo (dumplings stuffed with minced meat, vegetables, or cheese), Sel Roti (spongy ring-shaped pastries), and Sha Phaley (bread stuffed with beef and cabbage).
Tell us about your family, where you live now and how you spend your free time at home.
I live in the capital city Gangtok with my beautiful wife Pradipti. My family lives in the same province I grew up in. When I am not on board, I visit my family with my wife to spend time with them. I always love to cook authentic cuisine for them with freshly grown local ingredients.
How did your interest in cooking and cuisine develop?
I’ve had a great interest and passion for cooking since a very young age, and it was also my duty to help my mom prepare and cook family meals at home. During my school holidays, I used to help my aunt in her local restaurant in Sikkim. My parents asked me to continue pursuing my passion for cooking, so I went to culinary school and started to work in a restaurant in Kalimpong, West Bengal. Then, I went to a bigger city, Kolkata, to get more experience and knowledge, and continued to work at reputable hotels and restaurants in India and United Arab Emirates. This move helped me to develop my cooking skills and my passion for food.
What are your responsibilities as Executive Chef?
My responsibilities are to manage and maintain the entire culinary operation on board the ship, ensure that cost and food quality meet our standards, and create a safe and healthy work environment. I’m also responsible for recipe training and follow-ups with the team and culinary department to ensure cost containment through the proper use, handling and maintenance of records, reports, supplies and equipment.
What do you do to ensure the quality of the food is “fresh and local” on a ship?
During our loadings in port, we make sure only the best quality, fresh produce comes on board, and we try to purchase only the freshest products which we keep in our chilled storerooms throughout the voyage.
Tell me about an accomplishment that you are most proud of in your career.
Working with Azamara makes me proud because I get to showcase my experience and also enhance my skills in international cuisine while working under one roof with chefs and cooks of different nationalities.
Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I think everybody has a guilty pleasure. For me as a professional chef, I still enjoy fast food—and 80’s music.
What’s your most memorable restaurant meal?
Dim sum lunch in Vietnam was awesome.