Growing up as the son of a captain in the Indian Merchant Navy, Chef Zal was exposed to a variety of cultures in locations such as Tokyo, Singapore, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Sydney, Australia, sparking his interest in the culinary world at a young age.
While completing his bachelor’s degree in Tourism Studies from Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi, India, Zal began his career working for Oberoi Hotels and Resorts, a Five Star Luxury Brand of Hotels in India. He started off washing dishes and slowly working his way up, spending late nights studying and working from butchery, Garde Manger, the line and firing right up to bakery and pastry, eventually specializing in chocolates. After five years of experience in fine dining in India, Zal secured the opportunity to grow his career and pursue a degree Culinary Arts and from Kendall College in Chicago, Illinois, in 2013 with an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts.
Chef Zal first interned with Charlie Baggs Inc. in 2012 during his time at Kendall College, continuing part time with the company after the internship ended. Zal also worked at Perennial Virant, learning about preserves and honing his skills in charcuterie, eventually moving on to MiTierra and spending time in the kitchens of Alinea and Jam in Chicago. Zal returned briefly to India in 2014, at which point he found occasion to work with Charlie at Gits, a convenience prepackaged food manufacturer in India. It was this working opportunity that led Zal to return to Charlie Baggs Culinary Innovations as a full time Corporate Research Chef in January 2016.
Zal maintains a passion for food investigation and creation, using his time off to experiment with new ideas such as making edible snow in the CBCI kitchen or encapsulating flavored oils in fine gem-like crystals. Says Zal: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. A smart man once said, ‘Curiosity has its own reason for existing; logic will get you from A to B, but imagination balanced with commonsense will get you everywhere.’”