Meet chefs Justin Dingle and Diya Sethi, probably the only chef couple in the Capital that gets to work together in the same kitchen! The pair, that recently got engaged, has blended each one’s individual creative visions and skills into creating the new Modern European menu at Olive Beach, Chanakyapuri. We caught up with them to chat about the road to chefdom, culinary influences, cooking styles, and what it’s like to work together.
ON BECOMING A CHEF
JUSTIN: I hurt my arm in a baseball game and could not play again. 7-8 months after the injury, while playing a game of pool with a friend, I dared him that if he lost, he’d have to give me a job as a cook in his kitchen. I won.
DIYA: I’ve always been passionate about food. Being from a diplomatic background, we lived in many countries, so food became a tool of engraining oneself in a different culture.I started my career in banking and then moved to marketing, but I found it incredibly boring.
One day, I was being this authority on food during a meal with friends at a restaurant, and my dad said, “Shouldn’t you learn cooking?” Three months later, I enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu in London. I couldn’t fry an egg before this; I went from zero to being a chef.
DIYA: I first became intrigued by food as a young child in China, especially by the Chinese banquet style of serving and eating food.
JUSTIN: Raymond Blanc’s first book inspired me to become a chef. Marco Pierre White, the greatest of chefs, made being a chef respected.
DIYA: My passion is for younger, modern French food, but I’m still traditional in my technique and approach to it.
JUSTIN: You’ve to look at what’s available locally, and then try to adapt that in the best possible cooking style.
JUSTIN: This is like living a dream — two people who are passionate and completely bonkers about food, being together in a kitchen. It has taught us that you have to keep an open mind to creativity.
JUSTIN: We’ve conflicts in the kitchen all the time! But it’s constructive criticism... it’s all for the positive.
ON LEARNING FROM EACH OTHER
DIYA: I’m young in the industry in comparison to him. I haven’t had the luxury of experience to have a casual flair with food, unlike him. That’s the thing I’d like to learn from him.
JUSTIN: I’d lost the zest for being in the kitchen; her enthusiasm fired up the passion to get back into it.
ON THE FUTURE
JUSTIN: To continue living this dream.