Margarine Marvels: Meet Chef Devwrat Jategaonkar a Guinness Book of World Record Holder for his Margarine Sculptures

Margarine Marvels: Meet Chef Devwrat Jategaonkar a Guinness Book of World Record Holder for his Margarine Sculptures

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‘Future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams,’ -Master Chéf Devwrat

Creating a margarine sculpture needs tactics, expertise, and extraordinary patience. Chef Devwrat is famous for the margarine sculpture. He carved of the Shiva Trimurti, which went on to find a place in the Guinness Book of world records.

Image Credit: https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com

Devwrat is a TV celebrity chéf. He has painstakingly developed the art of carving food over the past 21 years and practiced his own signature style of carvings on fruits, vegetables, and chocolates for many years now.

He earned his first international accolade at a global level when he won the Silver Medal in the International Culinary Olympics held in Germany in 2012 — the first-ever silver medal for India — for his margarine sculpture, O Cinderella, depicting the immortal fairytale as it unfolded at the strike of the midnight hour, a story we have all heard from our childhood. The competition saw more than 1,800 chéfs participating from across the world.

Since then, Chéf Devwrat has nurtured a dream — a dream of showcasing his skills and depicting our rich Indian heritage on a more global level. So, he decided to go for the biggest and the best — the Guinness World Records — and the rest, as they say, is history!

He is an executive chef with Travel Food Services at the domestic airport in Santa Cruz.  He previously worked at the Radisson Blu in Alibaug. Originally from Akola in Vidarbha Maharashtra, he was always curious about the kitchen and the magic that took place inside. It was at the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Pune that he learnt about food carving and how to create food sculptures.

Today Devwrat can sculpt fruits, vegetables, and even margarine into beautifully sculpted figures. The margarine sculpture he carved of the Shiva Trimurti was displayed at the Santa Cruz domestic terminal. It was built using a total of 1,506.8 kilograms of margarine and stood proud at 6.5 feet in height and 8.5 feet in width. Most importantly, it did not have any supporting beams, wires, or rods — one of the main criteria for creating the world record.

Devwrat Anand Jategaonkar, the award-winning culinary professional with 26 years of experience in the hospitality industry, with a smile charming enough to sweep you off your feet.  In an exclusive interview with FailWise, he talks about his culinary journey and what made him venture into the arena of margarine sculptures.

FailWise: Tell us about your background and journey? 

Devwrat: The journey, so far, has been a mix of rough and smooth patches. But it has given me immense satisfaction. This field was new — especially in our native place, Akola — and the thinking about this field at that time was very different. It wasn’t at all dignified. My grandfather was against it. He told my father, ‘Do you want to spoil your son? He won’t even get a girl to marry. What’s he going to become? A bawarchi?’

“Looking back, I think choosing this profession was the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m most comfortable when I’m wearing my chéf’s cap and jacket.”

FailWise: What was the moment when you started developing an interest in cooking? 

Devwrat: Motivation comes from family. I used to watch my mother and my grandmother cook as a child. My grandmother used to cook some Maharashtrian dishes, which were delicious.

My mother, on the other hand, was a home science lecturer and she used to teach her students how to make a variety of dishes. I used to watch her and soon I learnt to make those dishes at home.

That was when I developed an interest in cooking. My father always supported us (my brother and I) in our career choices, and told us to follow our hearts.

Today, my elder brother Dr. Priyadarshan Jategaonkar is a well know gastro-surgeon at Sevagram Hospital, Wardha, and I ended up being a chef.

FailWise: How did you develop the art of carving and food sculpture?

Devwrat: I did not know that I had an aptitude for carving, till I was in my second year of Hotel Management. My teachers were very supportive, especially my production professor, Manoharan who used to take up many outdoor catering assignments.

I used to carve few basic garnishes during our practice sessions. I asked him, whether I could make a few sculptures for one of his outdoor catering events. He agreed and took me along with him for his next event. Ever since then my friend Prakash Kadam and I started carving sculptures together for wedding functions.

My father (Shri Anand Vinayak Jategaonkar) was a writer and artist. He has written many award-winning books in Marathi. His painting and drawings were always an inspiration for me. I guess I have inherited my artistic flair from him.

FailWise: What are some of your personal favorite dishes you like to prepare for your customers?

Devwrat: I like experimenting with food, and create fusion recipes. To create a fusion, a balance of flavors and right ingredients are the keys. You learn these techniques only with experience. In India, we have a very rich food heritage and culture. We also have so many varieties of regional Indian flavors.

Some of my favorite dishes which I like to serve to my guests are Mediterranean Mezze, Burmese Khou Suey, Rajasthani specialties like Dal Bati, Churma, Maharashtrian specialties like Puran Poli, Sambarwadi and Solkhadi, and Greek specialities like Spanakopita.

FailWise: How did you feel when you made it to the Guinness Book of World Records for your margarine sculptures?

Devwrat: I was working on this project for almost 4 years. Before the Guinness project, I traveled to Germany to participate in the IKA culinary Olympics. I got a silver medal there for my Margarine sculpture called ‘Oh Cinderella’. It was the first silver for India.

While attempting for the Guinness contest, I wanted to create something, which would portray Indian culture and philosophy. When I was working on this project my father fell ill and passed away. During his illness I had told him and promised him that I would complete the project and he was the inspiration behind that effort.

The sculpture was done in 10 days at the Domestic Airport, Mumbai. I had decided to do the Shiva Trimurti. While we were creating the sculpture, it collapsed three times due to our techniques and due to the temperature, despite the fact that we were working in air-conditioned surroundings.

Finally, I got it right the fourth time around. Due to some technical issue, the GWR team did not approve of my sculpture initially. The whole sculpture had to be weighed once the sculpture was done.

We had to create the sculpture again and I had to send the video evidence to the Guinness team. By then, I had lost all hope. But suddenly, one evening, I received an e-mail stating that my sculpture had been recognized and approved by GWR and I became a Guinness world record holder’.

Washed kitchen utensils

"During my second year in college, I decided to, initially, work in Garde Manger. During my industrial training, I didn’t get a Kitchen. Instead, I got Kitchen Stewarding at Searock Sheraton. On my night shifts, I learned how to wash kitchen utensils, how to remove black carbon on handis using caustic soda. After work, I used to observe the Garde Manger chéfs and their creations and, after reaching home, I would practice whatever I had observed from them. During my second industrial training, I got an opportunity to work at the Taj Shamiyana kitchen. During those two months, I didn’t take a single day off as I wanted to absorb knowledge to the fullest. We used to work for 12-14 hours a day.

FailWiseWho are some of your culinary heroes?

Devwrat: My culinary inspiration will always be my mother, I still keep on learning many things from her, and my teachers are the ones who inspired me to be to be a chef. I admire and am always inspired by local chefs who know their craft well.

FailWiseWhat are some special cooking tips you have learned in your journey?

Devwrat: I believe, more than the recipe, instinct and experience play a larger role in cooking. Also, while cooking, you need to be fearless and be ready to accept failure. You keep on learning new things only if you are ready to experiment and go out of your comfort zone.

FailWiseWhat is your advice for other aspiring chefs and people wishing to get into the food sculpting space?

Devwrat: If it is your dream, it’s your responsibility to fulfill it. Do not complain about the situation or support from family/colleagues etc. Find a way to achieve your goals.

You have to work hard, and most importantly believe in your ideas. Treat failures as learnings and move on. Do not give up. As someone once said, ‘The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.

FailWiseWhat do you enjoy doing on the weekends when you are not cooking?

Devwrat: I like to spend time with my daughter Mira. I love nature and I like to travel too. I also love visiting ancient caves and studying sculptures, architectural structures, and forts.

For more information about his world record and pictures of this amazing sculpture, visit www.devwratjategaonkar.com 

"If it is your dream, it’s your responsibility to fulfill it."


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