Interview by Bhawna Rawat
Chef Sudhakar N Rao is currently working as the Founder/Director/Principal, at Culinary Academy of India. He holds a Diploma in Tourism, Catering & Hotel Management from Indian Council for International Amity, an affiliate of FIOCES UNESCO Paris (1985) and Three Years Diploma in Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition from National Council of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, New Delhi(1986-89). He is a Certified Cruise Educator from Progress International -Cyprus as part of Costa Cruise Trainer (2006).
Chef Rao is one of the First Indian Member of the "American Culinary Federation" which is the world's largest and prestigious chef organization based at St. Augustine Florida, USA. (1993). He has trained over 1000 budding chefs who are working in 5 continents of the world as a Culinary Trainer since 1996. He is listed amongst the Top Fifty Master Chefs of India by the Hospitality Biz Magazine and amongst the Top Ten Famous Chefs of India by World Ranker.com. He has been the Chef Host for one of the top reality cookery show - CHEF NUMBER ONE of a leading TV Channel.
Culinary Academy of India is also the first professional culinary college in India to offer a full-fledged Three Year Bachelor’s in Catering Technology & Culinary Arts and a Post Graduate Diploma in Culinary Arts with affiliation to Osmania University.
Chef Sudhakar N Rao’s experience in the education industry
Education is neither an Industry nor a commodity. People who come into this field to teach others are those people who look at education as an investment in the next generation of the country. You need to be passionate about giving, rather than receiving. The best happiness for an individual is when your student comes back and tells you that he is successful because of your efforts. My personal experience is that it’s one of the best human services anyone can do.
Challenges faced by Chef Rao as the Director of Culinary Academy of India
Day to day problems are there but I resolve it with ease by being open and also accommodative. Real challenges that I am facing today are that the generation is into too many distractions. I am able to manage with regular and routine checks at the place.
Chef Rao on how his curriculum ensures the best practices of the of the industry
We follow the latest happenings in the industry and update the curriculum from time to time. We are the only college, which strongly believes that the students need practical training if the college wants them to emerge as industry ready. The only college in India, which has eight teaching kitchens under one roof and our intake has been only 60 from last 20 years.
Goals in Chef Rao’s mind for Culinary Academy of India
We are already listed amongst the Top Ten Culinary Colleges in the world by ASIAN CORRESPONDENT.
Our Aim is to be in the top three schools in the world
We want to have at least 10 Culinary World Records in the name of Culinary Academy of India.
Chef Rao’s methods to ensure the quality of education in his institution
There are numerous quality checks in place and most of the delivery standards have been already set. The fluctuation on the course delivery cannot go beyond 5%. These parameters are regularly monitored by the Responsible Department Heads. Each Chef Instructor has been provided with all the required resources such as ingredients, equipment and tools. The quality of the Chef Instructors is also important hence strict selection procedures are followed while new technical faculty is being hired. People who wish to work for BRAND CAI as chef trainers should at least have a year’s international exposure.
Chef Rao on building a positive school culture or climate
Less of Bureaucracy, more of transparency.
Listen to problems and come up with easy solutions. No bias at any time. Maintaining a healthy inter departmental coordination to avoid problems.
Chef Rao’s relationship with the students
There are many channels we meet, contact and interact with the students. We always keep the communication on from our side and we are in touch with most of the students since the first batch passed out in 1999. Our Alumni is the best source for newcomers into the college and we know that most of our present batch students are mostly through Alumni Reference.
Chef Rao’s views on the growth of students through placement opportunities available at Culinary Academy of India
We are the only college in India who have generated over 10,000 jobs in Hospitality, Hotel, Catering and Culinary Industry. Out of the 10,000 placements in 20 years 7,000 odd placements have been given in UK, USA and Italy in Cruise liners. The Batch Average Salary has been 30,000INR the past three years. This package is not possible even in the best of the best colleges offering professional courses. We are now seriously working to capture the highest number of Kitchen Management Trainees programs on offer each year of all leading hotel chains in India.
Chef Rao’s leadership style
We don’t believe in high-funda management philosophies. We are very practical and deal with day to day challenges with an open mind and strongly believe in hearing more and telling less.
Suggestions for the current youth and the aspiring students by Chef Rao
Do not get stuck to the mobile phones and become sedentary. Go out, spend time and
face the world in reality not virtually.