Pujan Sarkar is the head chef of ROOH Restaurant, where he introduces “the spirit of India to San Francisco through the restaurant experience.” Chef Sarkar brings forth a delicate balance of rich traditional flavors and techniques with fresh local ingredients at ROOH. Learn about Pujan Sarkar…
Hometown: Kolkata, India (City of Joy)
First job: Line cook at Princess Cruise line, USA.
Favorite ways to spend your free time in CA: One thing I love about California is it’s weather, diversity of people and natural beauty. I love to forage wild flowers and ingredients in the pristine weather, love to pluck fresh fruits that are very particular to the Californian region and love to cycle around the Golden Gate Park with my daughter. Being such a great culinary hub, I love to explore new restaurants and brilliant wines from the Napa region. One of the things I personally enjoy is visiting the farmer’s market every week and learning more about the indigenous seasonal produce and experimenting with them in our menus.
Your biggest accomplishment and why: I received “Best Sous Chef of the Year” from Golden Gate Restaurant Association in 2018. It was an honor to receive this prestigious award in the presence of many celebrated chefs that I have been looking up to from a young age since I started in this profession.
The biggest obstacle you overcame: The biggest obstacle was to replicate the same taste of ingredients in California as how it is in India. Since the land and weather are different, the same vegetables and spices tasted differently here. For example, the pH level of tomatoes in California is 4.2 and in India is 4.9. So, I started to use different elements and techniques to make sure that we obtain the same or at least similar taste of dishes to represent the true essence of Indian cuisine in a progressive manner.
Someone who inspires you and why: Chef Sujan Sarkar is my elder brother and is one of the most recognized Indian chefs in USA. He is the one who has inspired me from a very tender age. I have always looked up to him, not only as a brother but as a very respected chef who has mentored me over the years and helped me achieve who I am today, and I’m proud that I am in such a great place where legendary chefs like Thomas Keller has shaped up the culinary vision of this industry over the years.
Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Two things I believe are very important: vision and passion. I advise young chefs to focus on the skills and be inquisitive for always learning new things. I recommend chefs to read books and expand knowledge, which helps a lot in shaping their vision and evolving one’s own creativity. I personally recommend working with good chefs who always help to shape the right skillset. Passion to learn and grow is something which is vital for any field, that goes without saying.
Favorite quote: “Recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe.” –Chef Thomas Keller
Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I not only love to cook, but I am also very keen on farming. As a young child, I used to grow some vegetables and herbs in our family garden with my father, and I still grow some micro greens and herbs for the restaurant in my spare time, which gives me a ton of joy.
What makes someone fabulous: Happiness quotient. I think if you do what you love, it makes you happy and that makes someone really fabulous.