Chef and third-generation food entrepreneur made his dream a reality
Karan Bakshi, the owner of Punjabi Chic Inn, shares the secret of his 22-year-old journey in the food business.
Says love and passion are a must for good food along with the best ingredients and recipes.
Good food is not only about the best ingredients or recipes but equally about love and passion for cooking, believes Karan Bakshi, a third-generation award-winning food entrepreneur and chef.
Karan, who owns the famous Punjabi Chic Inn, widely considered the best Dhaba in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, started learning to cook when he was just 11 years old.
“I was in the 5th standard when I started learning how to cook. I was so much in love with the way different ingredients were used to prepare various dishes. It was fascinating, and I was naturally attracted to it. I used to finish my school’s homework and studies while spending time at the Dhaba,” says Karan.
Karan’s grandfather, Sardar Harnam Singh Bakshi, established the Dhaba in 1975 and named it National Hotel. His father, Manjeet Singh Bakshi, took over the Dhaba in 1990 and changed the name to Punjabi Chicken Corner.
“Having grown up in a family where food was invariably the talking point, cooking has always been a part of me. I remember helping my mother, who used to prepare everything from scratch. The Dhaba was where I gained real learning – about customers, understanding their tastes, new dishes, and more. I wanted to learn as much as I could, and even at that age, I used to spend 16-18 hours at the Dhaba. Those days laid the foundation for me to become a workaholic,” he says.
The family wanted Karan to study and become an engineer or a doctor. Still, he was very clear that he wanted to continue the family culinary tradition and become a chef and food entrepreneur. He convinced his family members and got admission to the State Institute of Hotel Management, Jodhpur, where he was the gold medalist.
After completing his course, Karan worked as a chef in Taj Blue Diamond in Pune for five months and also worked in Mumbai for a few months before returning to Jodhpur and taking over operations of the Dhaba. This was in 2001 and also the year when he changed the Dhaba’s name to Punjabi Chic Inn.
“I changed the menu and the ambience keeping in mind the change taking place all around us. I introduced more services, but what did not change was the taste. I have ensured that we serve the most authentic taste. We use the best ingredients, latest equipment, and modern cooking methods, but any and every dish we serve is made with a lot of love. It is the reason our patrons vouch for us,” he says.
Karan has been a part of the food industry for over 22 years, but his enthusiasm is the same as it was on day one.
“I don’t like doing monotonous things. I like challenges, and I have tried to learn something new with every new one. Culinary education is continuous, and the secret is to continue learning. I have travelled around the country and the globe, experiencing new cultures, new food, and much more. I feel these experiences have been important in my development as a professional,” says Karan, an avid reader who has a personal collection of more than 1,000 books.
“I have not just built a personal collection of books, but I have also read each of them thoroughly and learnt something from them,” he stresses.
The third-generation food entrepreneur says that he, too, has faced a fair share of struggles and has made numerous sacrifices in his personal and professional life
“An entrepreneurial journey is not easy. I have had to sacrifice my social life on many occasions. I have missed weddings and other ceremonies of nearly all my relatives. My family has been supportive, but there are things they do not fully understand. There are challenges, but my passion and drive have helped me deal with the struggles,” he says.
Karan is also a fan of Royal Enfield bikes and has modified eight such bikes so far. He says he modifies the bikes according to his taste and then sells them to the person he thinks will be able to do justice to them.
“This is my hobby, and it’s not about money. I am also working on an amazing project, something exclusive right now. I will share more details about it soon,” he signs off.
What speaks volumes about Karan’s success as a chef and food entrepreneur is that the personal catering team of pop star and Priyanka Chopra’s husband Nick Jonas visited Punjabi Chic Inn. The team, which had come from Dubai and Kuwait, tried many non-vegetarian dishes and was keen to know about his traditional non-veg recipes.
Punjabi Chic Inn has won various reputed awards. It has also been nominated at the All India Restaurant Congress in the category of best regional restaurant, serves cuisines like Fast Food, Indian, Biryani, Chinese, Marwadi, Mughlai, Punjabi, Rajasthani, North Indian, Pure Vegetarian, etc.