"My National Flag flies in my heart and I will bring glory to my Nation." - Guru Kalam

Inspiring Indians

Toten Sen: Party, with purpose, makes every morsel count

By Anupama Jaiswal | JAN 2017

A good cook should have a great heart! And, I found a man with a golden heart in Toten Sen, the Executive Chef working with Royal Orchid Metropole in Mysuru. It was a chance meeting, a conversation out of curiosity.

But finally it turned out to be Toten Sen being a man on a mission and a soul with a difference. You would soon agree why! Born in Kolkata, he is the only son of his parents Sanjay Singh and Swapna Singh.

At 38 now, Toten has a total 14 years of experience in cooking. Among his celebrity guests are the likes of cricketers Yuvaraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh and IT scion N R Narayana Murthy.

So what makes Toten Sen different? Simple! His thoughts. “Waste of food is a big issue and I am concerned. I am being told that over 20 crore Indians sleep hungry every night. At times, I am to see the waste of food after big parties. Why are people so blind towards this burning problem we are facing,” asks Toten. He has a solution as well.

“I want all those who are hosting parties and mega feasts to enter into an arrangement with an NGO so that they can immediately make packets of food soon after the event is over. This will help the needy and it will be a ‘party with a purpose', which I feel will touch many a heart,” says Toten.

He strongly advocates the idea of making wasting food a punishable offence. “Fine the people who waste food; then people will be a little more observant while wasting food. The idea is to create. It is a crime wasting food,” says Toten.

“This world is full of suffering and by small deeds of help, we can bring in a change,” he adds. When asked about his interest in cooking, Toten says he had been inspired towards being a kitchen warrior right from his childhood.

And in his school of cooking his first guru was his grandmother Snehlata Singh. “She taught me the magic of cooking and how to touch people’s heart. Even now, I use her home remedies while cooking. She was an inspiration for me and through her blessings I am excelling in this career,” he says.

He has strong views about India as well. He says the youth will have to be guided in the right direction.

“Educating the youth and achieving 100 percent literacy will brighten the future of our country. If our country needs to march ahead, we need to have politicians who are educated. They should have a vision. Even our legal system needs to be made easy and affordable for the poor. And each one of us should have shelter, food and employment,” says Toten with eyes wide open.

He says he was always inspired by the work of Guru Kalam and his dedication to the country. “I wanted to serve him once, but unfortunately I couldn’t. I also hope to serve our Prime Minister Narendra Modi once. I can prepare excellent Gujarati dishes like fafda, jilebi and dhokla,” says Toten.

Toten says most of the times people fail to offer their gratitude after eating the food. “I feel a prayer before eating food is a must. To serve with a smile is a great thing, but to get gratitude in return makes our day. It helps us to work better,” he adds.

Suman Naniah, Area General Manager at Royal Orchid, says Toten is a jewel for them. “Toten is a jewel for us. He is an excellent team player and his creativity in cooking never ceases to amaze the guests. We are lucky to have him with us,” says Suman.

As we were ready to wind up our chit-chat, Toten came out with another wish.

“I have a dream of opening a small orphanage for 10-12 children. I want to provide them with all means so that they excel in life and become great leaders of our country,” he added, with hope jettisoning out of his eyes.

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