BY BARB BERGGOETZ
As an executive chef, Gaurav Navin knows what it takes to manage lots of people, handle loads of produce, and serve thousands of meals.
Educated in India in culinary and business schools, Navin has spent 17 years running large food service operations providing fine to casual dining.
At a casino in Yonkers, New York, he supervised more than 150 cooks. At a Pocono Mountains golf resort in Pennsylvania, he helped grow produce in a 35,000-square-foot garden. And on a Carnival Cruise Line ship, he and his staff served 10,000 meals daily.
Now, as the senior executive chef for Indiana Memorial Union (IMU) Restaurants and Catering, Navin, 37, says he relishes working in a small college city and for a first-rate catering enterprise. One of his objectives is to increase sustainable culinary practices by using more local suppliers and farmers.
Navin learned to appreciate cooking and using fresh and local food from his father, a doctor. “When my brother and I were growing up, my dad used to cook at home on Sundays for six or seven hours,” he recalls.
As far as his own preferences, Navin says, “I have always had a strong love for Mediterranean cuisine.” And he personally loves cooking all types of game — quail, venison, duck, rabbit.
He intends, though, to frequently speak to Tudor Room guests and other clients to discover their preferences. “I would rather cook what guests want to eat, not necessarily what I want to cook,” he says.
In his new position, Navin says, he’s involved in creating menus and showcasing food for his 25-member staff, as well as motivating them to provide excellent hospitality. His staff prepares and serves meals throughout IMU and provides catering for gatherings on campus and throughout the area.
Navin, who started in January, says he enjoys living in Bloomington, which he likens to the Pocono Mountains area. “People know each other and they try to make a difference in their communities,” he says. “I’ve always been a small town person.”