by Chef Sharaz Mohammed
In 2007 I was approaching over ten years as a Chef preparing and cooking International cuisine while also serving as the Executive Chef for an International Restaurant located in the Grand Bazaar. In my previous years I was introduced to authentic Indian cuisine, which I really relished. In order to progress as a chef you have to be open to the idea of working alongside other chefs, especially from different cultures and background. You must be opened to all types of critics and welcome any compliments because it will have an impact on your career.
In September 2006 I was approached by Executive Chef Wilmot who was then based in Trinidad from the Goddard’s Catering Group and International Catering company with main offices in Barbados and Miami, Florida. I received a phone call from him and he asked me if I would willing to work alongside him and the Group for World Cup Cricket 2007.
This was a marvelous opportunity even though I didn’t know at the time how big the task was or what I was getting into. But what I did know is I was ready. During our first meeting Chef Wilmot said that they had to do a demo for the Indian Cricket Team officials and some ICC Officials and my name had come up in a meeting as the Chef with the experience to handle such a task He subsequently asked if would be interested and I didn't hesitate to take up this offer.
The demo was held in Trinidad in early 2007 for which I had to do an entire spread of various Indian snacks and main dishes. Added to that I was informed that I would have to deliver the presentation. I was nervous but I believed in my work and ability to present before the international officials. It was successful and Goddard’s Catering not only got the contract to cater for the Indian Cricket Team but the entire World Cup Cricket with catering to all the teams falling under our responsibilities.
Chef Sharaz with MS Dhoni
I was offered a contract for the duration of the World Cup and my main duties included catering to both teams on match days which included, Breakfast, Lunch and Post-match snack. I would get the menus and the dietary request from the Cooperate Chef for all the teams and would have to make all arrangements for all raw materials. In Trinidad we were based in the Piarco Airport kitchen and there was specific windows of timing to get all the catering prepared and delivered to UWI SPEC grounds for the practice matches and to the Queen's Park Oval in Port of Spain for the official group matches.
I learnt a lot from ICC and what it means to be totally professional and never take no for an answer . It was about always doing what is required to get the job or task done successfully. While it was exciting to serve up to the stars of cricket I also had to remain focused. It was quite an experience to be serving all the top cricket stars and it was a humbling experience to see for myself how very calm and professional they all were especially on matchdays.
There were many great memories working with the Goddard’s team and a few important experiences with the ICC officials.
With Sanath jayasuriya
I remember being called to the Queen's Park Oval to meet with the Manager of the Indian Cricket Team while they were training in the nets. I was asked to provide breakfast upstairs on the corridor of the dressing room for the team because they wanted to avoid the attention of the guests at the Hilton where they were staying. They preferred to have breakfast in private and felt the option to dine at the Oval would suit them better. I remember advising the manager that it would be difficult due to security reasons and I would not be able fulfill his request. He inquired about the relevant persons he needed to consult to get the required permission. I told him about the persons from the Fire Department, Police and Health and within 15 minutes he was back with all the permissions granted, giving me the green light to proceed. Everything was put in place for "Breakfast at the Oval" for each of the training sessions for the Indian team.
On another occasion during the India versus Bermuda game, I had pumpkin bisque soup on the menu. Each team was provided with their own buffet set up. The Indian coach at the time Mr Greg Chappell was impressed with the soup and later on the ICC official came and told me to get another pot of soup for him as he had personally requested it. We didn’t have a kitchen at the oval so it would be difficult, he said “chef I don’t care how do do it but kindly get the soup for him”.
Well the Bermuda team didn’t really know much of the menu that day, so I went across to their buffet and took the pot of soup and replace the empty pot on the Indian team buffet. The official came back five minutes after and said I had made the coach's day with that move. Of course I did manage to supplement the Bermudans with something just as sumptuous.
Our local catering team then left for Grenada for the super eight matches and there were two chefs, a butcher and ten cooks who were preparing the meals for the volunteers. In Grenada a temporary kitchen was built outside of the cricket stadium and this was ideal for us.
On matchday for the Australia versus Sri Lanka encounter , I was on my way with breakfast for both teams. On entering the building I was stopped by an ICC security official, he was a former Pakistani Colonel and asked to see my accreditation. He noticed i was missing one of the access numbers which would allow me to enter the venue. It didn’t matter to him that I was the chef responsible for preparing the meals the teams and that the clock was ticking at the time. ICC were very specific with their regulations and guidelines. Luckily there was an accreditation office at the venue and they assisted me with the changes.
The Australian team had a female trainer/therapist and she was checking food temperatures every match day for her team ensuring what needed to be cold or hot was infact so and ensuring the quality was on spot for her tea, We did meet their demands except for one instance when temperature of the BBQ Chicken breast was 10 degrees off and she didn’t allow the players to eat anything until I went back to the kitchen a re-fired it.
For the entire World Cup on match days my team and I would start work in the kitchen from 2am then head to the venue, to ensure that the service was done professionally and would leave only when the game was finished which was normally around 5:30pm. Non match days was left for preparations for the following day and I was on call for any team dietitian who wanted to see me at any particular time, morning, noon, night or even after midnight.
I noticed that most of the big players from
some of the teams hardly came to the dining room, other players would come and collect their food on some days. Jonty Rhodes came for Makhaya Nitini while Brian Lara, Sachin Tendulkar and others would have persons take their meals to them at times. I was fortunate to have conversations with a lot of the players to get to understand more about their emotions during an event such as the World Cup and cricket overall. Many of them express missing their loved ones because of the extensive travelling. M.S Dhoni, Jonty Rhodes, Sanath Jayasuriya, Marvan Atapattu, Glenn McGrath, Coach Gus Logie, Coach Tom Moody were among those I had the pleasure of interacting with.
After the Super Eights in Grenada which was a success, our crew packed up and returned home. The following day I got a call to get ready to fly to Barbados for the World Cup Finals. This was the big one. Immediately upon arriving Barbados there was a meeting to discuss all the logistics related to the catering for the Finals.
During the World Cup Goddard’s Chefs and Managers was given a schedule to work with and everyone had a task in different locations and venues throughout the West Indies and then would meet up for the Finals. In the meeting Cooperate Chef Simmons turned and said to me that for this Finals I would be in charge of overseeing the process because the general feedback had been good and they were satisfied with my delivery. I humbly accepted and began my duties for the last few days of the tournament.
On the day of the Final between Australia and Sri Lanka it was smooth sailing because I had already met with them in the Super Eight and when the Australian Trainer saw me it was all thumbs up. I remember
her saying, “Chef seeing you this morning I know my players are safe”.
The entire catering for the World Cup was a success and Goddard’s Catering Group did recognize my work and presented myself and others with a certificate of appreciation.
As a chef this experience had a positive impact on my career and helped me to understand what it means to maintain a high International standard. Never say "No it can't be done" to a request as you always have to look for solutions to solve problems. It is about creating a positive work environment, learning how to work alongside people from your cultures as well as others from various parts of the globe and with effective communication it is all possible.
In 2009 I was contacted again to work with a team for the Summit Of The Americas and The Commonwealth Heads Of Government here at home. Our job was to prepare and cater for the departing flights of some of the heads which included the Prime Ministers of England, India and Canada, The Queen, The Prince Of Brunei and others.
My background as a chef came from humble beginnings and I started as a dish washer, I trained hands on and mostly taught myself because of my passion and love for the profession. I’ve been in the Hospitality industry for over 30 years in all sectors, I’ve traveled the World looking to always improve my skills and I have always been opened to share my knowledge with the young chefs.
I remain objective and with an aim that one day I can use my experiences to work on improving the Tourism and Hospitality Sector in Trinidad and Tobago, making it a serious resource income earner and to keep raising the bar for our country in the industry.
Chef Sharaz Mohammed was traditionally trained "hands on" and his love for this industry has allowed him to travel to Asia, Europe, North ,South and Central America and the Caribbean. Prior clients include Heads of Government, Ambassadors, Sporting Icons, Hollywood & Bollywood stars which include The Queen Of England, Prime Ministers of England, India, Canada,The Sultan Of Brunei. A wealth of experience and knowledge Chef Sharaz was one of the official chefs contracted for Cricket World Cup 2007 for all teams, officials and media personnel. Experience in the Hotel, Restaurant ,Airline Catering and Cooperate Events. A former lecturer at the Trinidad & Tobago Hospitality Institute . His television appearances thus far includes, Cup Of Joe, Taste , Cuisine Caravan, Chef Roary Restaurant Showcase in NewFoundland, Canada and Flow TV. Chef Sharaz known for sharing and advising employers and employees about improving themselves and their business.For more information you can Google: chef sharaz mohammed/Instagram/Linkedin Website.
"Food is Life! Cherish it, Love it and share it." - Chef Sharaz