Dr ChefSoundararajan

Dr. Chef P Soundararajan


Dr. Chef Soundararajan P is a world-renowned chef, entrepreneur, writer, mentor and humanitarian. He has around 40 years or professional experience and has won several accolades for his culinary accomplishments. He is the first Indian Chef to receive an Honorary Doctorate. Chef Soundararajan was an honorary life time member at the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) and he is a National Award Winner ‘Best Chef of India’ by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. He is also known for his Guinness World Record for setting up fine dining restaurant at highest altitude. He is the author of Essential Culinary Guide, a glossary and guide for various techniques and terminologies used in the culinary world.

Dr. Chef P Soundararajan


Dr. Chef Soundararajan P is a world-renowned chef, entrepreneur, writer, mentor and humanitarian. He has around 40 years or professional experience and has won several accolades for his culinary accomplishments. He is the first Indian Chef to receive an Honorary Doctorate. Chef Soundararajan was an honorary life time member at the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS) and he is a National Award Winner ‘Best Chef of India’ by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India. He is also known for his Guinness World Record for setting up fine dining restaurant at highest altitude. He is the author of Essential Culinary Guide, a glossary and guide for various techniques and terminologies used in the culinary world.

Awards and recognitions

  • Honorary Lifetime Member of World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS).
  • Honorary Doctorate from Vels University, Chennai awarded by His Excellency Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • Guinness World Record for setting up a pop-up restaurant at the world’s highest altitude.
  • National Award – Best Chef of India by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for his culinary expertise and contribution towards the culinary profession.
  • Hygiene rating and Eat Right awards by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • Lifetime Achievement Award by Indian Culinary Forum.
  • He was the honorary member of various International Chefs Associations including Emirates Culinary Guild, Saudi Arabian Chefs Association and Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka.
  • Awarded for Best Social Media interaction during World Congress in Greece.
  • Vocational Excellency Award by the Rotary Club of Madras Presidency.
  • Received Golden Hat Award in 2004 and Golden Star Award in 2008 by the South India Culinary Association.

Early life and education

Soundararajan Palaniappan was born in the South Indian town, Udumalaipettai, Tamilnadu as seventh child of Mr. Palaniappan and Mrs. Palaniammal. Like Soundararajan, his father too was a self-made man. While his grandfather and ancestors were farmers and agriculturalists, his father, Palaniappan, was a coffee merchant and a rice mill owner. Soundararajan lost his father at a young age of 7, and he along with his brothers, supported his mother to run their family rice mill from the age of 12, while still pursuing his school education. He later pursued BSc Mathematics from Government college of Arts in Udumalpet. Soundararajan was a college chess champion and a district level chess player during his under grad.

Post his graduation he was looking at continuing his education by taking up MSc Mathematics. However, under the guidance, advise and support of his uncle, Late Subramanian, he decided to pursue a course in hotel management and catering from Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Madras. Though catering was not a well-known or sought-after profession during his era, Soundararajan decided to take the plunge and realised the passion he had for culinary management. During his college days, he won several awards in the culinary contests and he was also instrumental in starting a new tradition in forming the First Food Production Committee and organized Catefete – a culinary festival.

Chef Soundararajan believed that one should continuously invest in honing his/her expertise and skills. Post his graduation and culinary diploma, Chef Soundar pursued and successfully completed the following courses:

  • He has been certified in World Cuisine from the Culinary Institute of America.
  • Completed a Fellowship program at the St Nicholas University, Louisiana.
  • Certified by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
  • Certified by Training House, USA as a “Catalytic Instructor”.
  • Executive development program in General Management from the IIM Bangalore.
  • Hospitality mentor program at Harvard University.
  • Certificate in Digital marketing from Columbia University.

Awards and recognitions

  • Honorary Lifetime Member of World Association of Chefs’ Societies (WACS).
  • Honorary Doctorate from Vels University, Chennai awarded by His Excellency Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam.
  • Guinness World Record for setting up a pop-up restaurant at the world’s highest altitude.
  • National Award – Best Chef of India by Ministry of Tourism, Government of India for his culinary expertise and contribution towards the culinary profession.
  • Hygiene rating and Eat Right awards by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI).
  • Lifetime Achievement Award by Indian Culinary Forum.
  • He was the honorary member of various International Chefs Associations including Emirates Culinary Guild, Saudi Arabian Chefs Association and Chefs Guild of Sri Lanka.
  • Awarded for Best Social Media interaction during World Congress in Greece.
  • Vocational Excellency Award by the Rotary Club of Madras Presidency.
  • Received Golden Hat Award in 2004 and Golden Star Award in 2008 by the South India Culinary Association.

Early life and education

Soundararajan Palaniappan was born in the South Indian town, Udumalaipettai, Tamilnadu as seventh child of Mr. Palaniappan and Mrs. Palaniammal. Like Soundararajan, his father too was a self-made man. While his grandfather and ancestors were farmers and agriculturalists, his father, Palaniappan, was a coffee merchant and a rice mill owner. Soundararajan lost his father at a young age of 7, and he along with his brothers, supported his mother to run their family rice mill from the age of 12, while still pursuing his school education. He later pursued BSc Mathematics from Government college of Arts in Udumalpet. Soundararajan was a college chess champion and a district level chess player during his under grad.

Post his graduation he was looking at continuing his education by taking up MSc Mathematics. However, under the guidance, advise and support of his uncle, Late Subramanian, he decided to pursue a course in hotel management and catering from Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Madras. Though catering was not a well-known or sought-after profession during his era, Soundararajan decided to take the plunge and realised the passion he had for culinary management. During his college days, he won several awards in the culinary contests and he was also instrumental in starting a new tradition in forming the First Food Production Committee and organized Catefete – a culinary festival.

Chef Soundararajan believed that one should continuously invest in honing his/her expertise and skills. Post his graduation and culinary diploma, Chef Soundar pursued and successfully completed the following courses:

  • He has been certified in World Cuisine from the Culinary Institute of America.
  • Completed a Fellowship program at the St Nicholas University, Louisiana.
  • Certified by the World Association of Chefs Societies (WACS).
  • Certified by Training House, USA as a “Catalytic Instructor”.
  • Executive development program in General Management from the IIM Bangalore.
  • Hospitality mentor program at Harvard University.
  • Certificate in Digital marketing from Columbia University.

Early Culinary Career

Being a rank holder at Institute of Hotel Management- Madras, he started his career as a Chef Trainee with the Taj Group of Hotels and his posting was at The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. He later went on to join The Ashok Hotel, owned by Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) where he trained under the renowned (late) French Chef Roger Moncourt. During his stint with ITDC, he was appointed as the ‘The Prime Minister’s Chef!’, Chef in charge at the Hyderabad House, Official State House of the Prime Minister in New Delhi. He was assigned as the head chef of several prestigious events of the time including ‘Catering for the prestigious Asian Games for close to 6000+ athletes every day’, ‘Non Alignment Summit 1983’ and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). His skills were appreciated by more than 40 Heads of State, who attended the CHOGM, including Nelson Mandela, K P. Bhattarai, and Maumoon Gayoom, winning him several accolades.

Soundararajan later moved to the Ashok Kovalam Hotel at Thiruvananthapuram and trained in royal cuisine from some of the best Master chefs of the Travancore Kingdom. His stint there saw delightful beach food carnivals. Later, in 1984, he worked as a chef at Kanishka Hotel and gained tremendous knowledge and experience working with Chef J M. Chaudhuri. Chef Soundararajan learned the nuances of culinary management from him. Soundararajan was instrumental in the detailed planning and opening of the hotel’s first salad bar and also subsequently organized an array of food festivals, Burger festival, Sizzler festival, Biryani festival, Bengali Utsav, Mango Festival etc. to name a few.

He received an invitation to work on board the world’s No.1 Luxury Liner Queen Elizabeth 2. Apart from planning, preparing and serving more than forty Indian menus, Soundararajan had the opportunity to train international chefs in Indian cuisine and to learn various aspects of European cuisine from them.

Early Culinary Career

Being a rank holder at Institute of Hotel Management- Madras, he started his career as a Chef Trainee with the Taj Group of Hotels and his posting was at The Taj Mahal Hotel, Mumbai. He later went on to join The Ashok Hotel, owned by Indian Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC) where he trained under the renowned (late) French Chef Roger Moncourt. During his stint with ITDC, he was appointed as the ‘The Prime Minister’s Chef!’, Chef in charge at the Hyderabad House, Official State House of the Prime Minister in New Delhi. He was assigned as the head chef of several prestigious events of the time including ‘Catering for the prestigious Asian Games for close to 6000+ athletes every day’, ‘Non Alignment Summit 1983’ and Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM). His skills were appreciated by more than 40 Heads of State, who attended the CHOGM, including Nelson Mandela, K P. Bhattarai, and Maumoon Gayoom, winning him several accolades.

Soundararajan later moved to the Ashok Kovalam Hotel at Thiruvananthapuram and trained in royal cuisine from some of the best Master chefs of the Travancore Kingdom. His stint there saw delightful beach food carnivals. Later, in 1984, he worked as a chef at Kanishka Hotel and gained tremendous knowledge and experience working with Chef J M. Chaudhuri. Chef Soundararajan learned the nuances of culinary management from him. Soundararajan was instrumental in the detailed planning and opening of the hotel’s first salad bar and also subsequently organized an array of food festivals, Burger festival, Sizzler festival, Biryani festival, Bengali Utsav, Mango Festival etc. to name a few.

He received an invitation to work on board the world’s No.1 Luxury Liner Queen Elizabeth 2. Apart from planning, preparing and serving more than forty Indian menus, Soundararajan had the opportunity to train international chefs in Indian cuisine and to learn various aspects of European cuisine from them.

Corporate Chef

Chef Soundararajan joined Guestline Days Hotels and Resorts, a Mahindra Group concern back then, as their Corporate Executive Chef in 1991. It was here that he nurtured and brought about variations in the operations and developed new systems operating procedures for the chain. He pioneered in introducing waste management concepts such as composting, use of recyclable materials and herb / kitchen garden at Guestline. He was the Chef Culinarian for various occasions in churning out designer cuisine during the launch of Meher Castellino’s Fashion Kaleidoscope at Hotel Guestline, Mumbai, Miss India 1995- 96 and launch of the Verve magazine to name a few.

In December 1997, Chef Soundararajan joined Mahindra Holidays and Resorts as their Corporate Executive Chef and was instrumental in conceptualizing, setting up and managing the food and beverage operations for around 100 restaurants in Club Mahindra. Under his leadership, over 50 Indian cuisine festivals have been developed and implemented across various Mahindra Holidays and Resorts. Chef Soundararajan innovated and introduced unique vanishing cuisines like Kongunadu cuisine from the Coimbatore region, Baduga cuisine from the Nilgiris and Kumaon cuisine from Kumaon region to five-star hotel menus. He has around 30 years of experience as Corporate Executive Chef with the Mahindra Group including Guestline Hospitality Management and Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ltd.

Corporate Chef

Chef Soundararajan joined Guestline Days Hotels and Resorts, a Mahindra Group concern back then, as their Corporate Executive Chef in 1991. It was here that he nurtured and brought about variations in the operations and developed new systems operating procedures for the chain. He pioneered in introducing waste management concepts such as composting, use of recyclable materials and herb / kitchen garden at Guestline. He was the Chef Culinarian for various occasions in churning out designer cuisine during the launch of Meher Castellino’s Fashion Kaleidoscope at Hotel Guestline, Mumbai, Miss India 1995- 96 and launch of the Verve magazine to name a few.

In December 1997, Chef Soundararajan joined Mahindra Holidays and Resorts as their Corporate Executive Chef and was instrumental in conceptualizing, setting up and managing the food and beverage operations for around 100 restaurants in Club Mahindra. Under his leadership, over 50 Indian cuisine festivals have been developed and implemented across various Mahindra Holidays and Resorts. Chef Soundararajan innovated and introduced unique vanishing cuisines like Kongunadu cuisine from the Coimbatore region, Baduga cuisine from the Nilgiris and Kumaon cuisine from Kumaon region to five-star hotel menus. He has around 30 years of experience as Corporate Executive Chef with the Mahindra Group including Guestline Hospitality Management and Mahindra Holidays and Resorts India Ltd.

Culinary Associations

After joining Mahindra Holidays and Resorts in the year 1997, Chef Soundararajan initiated the idea of forming the South India Culinary Association, a regional level professional body for the culinary professionals to exchange culinary notes and also to bring a closer bond between the culinary professionals. He was the Founder General Secretary of the association.

Chef Soundararajan later went on to play an instrumental role in setting up Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA), the national level professional body along with Chef Manjit Singh Gill, Chef Vijay Baskar and Chef MS Gupta. He was the Founder General Secretary of IFCA. Chef Soundararajan and IFCA Presidium represented Indian chefs at various World Chefs conferences and also played a key role in getting IFCA inducted as a member of World Chefs. He played a major role in organizing IFCA’s International Chefs Conference biennially in the country to promote World Chefs and IFCA. The culinary congress serves as an amazing platform to unit chefs from across the country. As the event has so far seen 8 successful editions and it has become a hallmark tradition among chefs and culinary professionals of India. He has spearheaded IFCA Culinary Competitions at National and Regional levels inviting WORLDCHEFS approved Judges. He played a pivotal role in hosting WORLDCHEFS Board Meeting 2015 held at New Delhi, India.

Chef Soundararajan was also appointed as the member of World Chefs’ Education committee and played a significant role in bringing WACS certification exams and training programs to India. Chef Soundararajan was awarded the Honorary Lifetime Membership by World Chefs for his tremendous contribution to the profession.

Later in 2018, he was appointed as the Chairman of Marketing committee at World Chefs. He was also the honorary member of various culinary bodies around the world including Chefs guild of Sri Lanka, Emirates Culinary Association and Saudi Arabic Chefs Association.

Humanitarian

Chef Soundararajan always believed that Chefs had a very strong connect with the society through food and he conceptualized and spearheaded over hundreds of charitable events and noble causes like Chefs Manifesto- a one-year culinary program for rural women to help them become employable; Chef Amudhupadai – gourmet meals were served for differently abled and underprivileged children every month in 2006; Chef and Child- charity event to support and help children affected with AIDS to name a few. He has also been bakery school in Alwarpet, Chennai, run by the Chennai Corporation, Hot Breads and Rotary Club for the under privileged.

Television

Chef Soundararajan’s stint with television started with a Cookery show on the Kongunadu cuisine in the Good Food Guide of the Star Plus Channel. His first regular cookery show was with Tamil channel, Sun TV’s Sunday Samayal where he was the Chef in charge for the Five Star Samayal program. He later went on to become the Chief Jury of Tamilnadu’s first reality culinary competition ‘Thamilgathin Samayal Champion’ that was hosted by Jaya TV. Chef Soundararajan was also the Jury of Thanthi TV’s Samayal Gurukulam.

Culinary Associations

After joining Mahindra Holidays and Resorts in the year 1997, Chef Soundararajan initiated the idea of forming the South India Culinary Association, a regional level professional body for the culinary professionals to exchange culinary notes and also to bring a closer bond between the culinary professionals. He was the Founder General Secretary of the association.

Chef Soundararajan later went on to play an instrumental role in setting up Indian Federation of Culinary Associations (IFCA), the national level professional body along with Chef Manjit Singh Gill, Chef Vijay Baskar and Chef MS Gupta. He was the Founder General Secretary of IFCA. Chef Soundararajan and IFCA Presidium represented Indian chefs at various World Chefs conferences and also played a key role in getting IFCA inducted as a member of World Chefs. He played a major role in organizing IFCA’s International Chefs Conference biennially in the country to promote World Chefs and IFCA. The culinary congress serves as an amazing platform to unit chefs from across the country. As the event has so far seen 8 successful editions and it has become a hallmark tradition among chefs and culinary professionals of India. He has spearheaded IFCA Culinary Competitions at National and Regional levels inviting WORLDCHEFS approved Judges. He played a pivotal role in hosting WORLDCHEFS Board Meeting 2015 held at New Delhi, India.

Chef Soundararajan was also appointed as the member of World Chefs’ Education committee and played a significant role in bringing WACS certification exams and training programs to India. Chef Soundararajan was awarded the Honorary Lifetime Membership by World Chefs for his tremendous contribution to the profession.

Later in 2018, he was appointed as the Chairman of Marketing committee at World Chefs. He was also the honorary member of various culinary bodies around the world including Chefs guild of Sri Lanka, Emirates Culinary Association and Saudi Arabic Chefs Association.

Humanitarian

Chef Soundararajan always believed that Chefs had a very strong connect with the society through food and he conceptualized and spearheaded over hundreds of charitable events and noble causes like Chefs Manifesto- a one-year culinary program for rural women to help them become employable; Chef Amudhupadai – gourmet meals were served for differently abled and underprivileged children every month in 2006; Chef and Child- charity event to support and help children affected with AIDS to name a few. He has also been bakery school in Alwarpet, Chennai, run by the Chennai Corporation, Hot Breads and Rotary Club for the under privileged.

Television

Chef Soundararajan’s stint with television started with a Cookery show on the Kongunadu cuisine in the Good Food Guide of the Star Plus Channel. His first regular cookery show was with Tamil channel, Sun TV’s Sunday Samayal where he was the Chef in charge for the Five Star Samayal program. He later went on to become the Chief Jury of Tamilnadu’s first reality culinary competition ‘Thamilgathin Samayal Champion’ that was hosted by Jaya TV. Chef Soundararajan was also the Jury of Thanthi TV’s Samayal Gurukulam.