Biju Ashfer - Biju, Ashfer

Ashfer Biju

Biography

Executive Chef Ashfer Biju brings a worldly vision inspired by regional ingredients to the culinary program at The Pierre, where he oversees all food outlets including signature restaurant Perrine and The Rotunda, both opened in 2016, as well as Two E Bar & Lounge, 24-hour In-Room Dining and weddings and gala dinners in the hotel’s six event spaces. He manages a team of 50 cooks and seven sous chefs that, during the busy season, serve up to 5,000 people per day.

Chef Biju was raised in a family of restaurateurs near Kerala, India, and grew... READ MORE

Executive Chef Ashfer Biju brings a worldly vision inspired by regional ingredients to the culinary program at The Pierre, where he oversees all food outlets including signature restaurant Perrine and The Rotunda, both opened in 2016, as well as Two E Bar & Lounge, 24-hour In-Room Dining and weddings and gala dinners in the hotel’s six event spaces. He manages a team of 50 cooks and seven sous chefs that, during the busy season, serve up to 5,000 people per day.

Chef Biju was raised in a family of restaurateurs near Kerala, India, and grew up with a passion for seafood.

“During my childhood, I would sneak out when my mother thought I was studying for school to watch fisherman and their daily catch. I gained exposure to all types of fish and seafood. And when I was 16, I began working in restaurants so that I could start learning new techniques and flavor combinations.”

This passion paved the way for a successful career in hospitality. After earning his hospitality degree in India, Biju found his burgeoning career taking him all over the globe—from the Culinary Institute of America to kitchens in Napa Valley, the Maldives, Jean-Georges in London, and throughout Southeast Asia—all for the sake of staging, working, and learning. He went on to become what he considers a “pre-opening specialist” in the hotel field, with experience launching or rebranding seven hotel properties and developing roughly 16 restaurant concepts.

Chef Ashfer’s passions from childhood, classical training and knowledge of French cooking have made him the perfect candidate to lead The Pierre’s complex culinary program. His extensive research of The Pierre’s culinary history, conducted over the four-year span of his career at the hotel, is evident in his refreshing balance of innovative creations and classics representative of beloved dishes from The Pierre’s vintage menus. He remains dedicated to keeping all menus seasonal by sourcing the best local and regional ingredients.

“Incorporating fresh ingredients is easy here in New York because you have so many sustainable options to choose from,” says Chef Ashfer. “In addition to regularly visiting Farmers’ Markets, I also spend time at the key farms we work with, connecting with our food and beverage partners regularly every season.”

The Pierre’s culinary brigade still brings in fresh vegetables daily, all prepared in the original prep area designed by Charles Pierre and Chef August Escoffier. The kitchen has retained the same footprint–including a butcher shop–and circulation since the hotel’s opening in 1930, with its location at the center of the hotel. All meats and fish are cut and prepped on site.

Chef Ashfer leads the preparation for catered events, with elevated contemporary cuisine cooked to the minute and all plated like New York’s top restaurants. The Pierre is renowned for the customization and personal interaction it offers to brides and their families. Chef along with Executive Banquet Chef Tomasz Surowka and Executive Pastry Chef Michael Mignano meet with every bride to design their dream menu.

A recently introduced in-room wellness menu features healthy, delicious, low calorie meals incorporating ingredients with healing properties–the first step in a broader approach to wellness that Chef Ashfer will develop over time. Today he is known for adding modern touches to traditional French, Mediterranean, Asian and Indian cuisines in a personal style influenced by his world travels. He also honors his mother by showcasing her Malabar Prawn Curry on his menus.

When he’s not researching cultures and cuisines, the Long Island resident enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and kids, going on fruit-picking excursions, and engaging in social media.

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What is your favorite NYC restaurant? And what is your go-to dish? Boulud Sud, Upper West Side Love the Lamb Flat BreadWhat is your ultimate meal? Enjoying fresh seafood (crab, clams, shrimp? yes please...) by the beach (or water) with family & friends while having a lot of fun. For me the atmosphere, company and the mood is as important as the meal in itself.What three things are always in your pantry? So, i own a t-shirt which says "Need Salt" Good salt (Coarse sea salt, Himalayan pink, Black salt), Lemon, Pepper & Chilies... (I know that is 4 & not 3, but I do not think I am ready to give up on any!) As a cook, I am all about seasoning. I strongly believe you can take simple fresh ingredients and create a magical dish by just seasoning right.If you weren't a chef, what would you be? Travel Photographer or JournalistIf you could cook with anyone, who would that be? I would really like to go back in time (about 4 decades) and cook with my Grandmother & her culinary counter parts (friends, relatives i guess). In addition to learning some of her recipes first hand, i would like to see how traditional cooking utensils & equipment were used to create the most delicious meals using only fresh, home grown ingredients. I would also like to go back in time & be in my very own kitchen at The Pierre hotel in 1930 where chef Auguste Escoffier & Chef Charles Scotto set the brigadeWhat’s your favorite NYCWFF memory? My pastry chef, Chef Michael Mignano's mother & his two aunts (whom we often address as our mothers in NYC), made a surprise visit to our station during our very first event in 2016. When the crowd realized that we have our moms in the queue, they cheered & brought them forward to our station and the whole place erupted with joy & laughter. This was a very special moment for all of us at the station and a great tribute to our moms & our concept of traditional food.

Coronation Chicken
Chicken Curry Salad, Raisins, Herbs, Country Bread

Serving Size / Yield: 6 Portion

Ingredients:
720 gms poached chicken cut in cubes
120 gms celery peeled and sliced thin
120 gms green apple cut in cubes
90 gms cucumber peeled and sliced
18 gms jalapeno brunoise
18 gms chives chopped
30 gms scallions chopped
30 gms frisée picked
To taste kosher salt
18gms lemon juice
3 gms lemon zest

For Curry mayo
70 gms canola oil
30 gms madras curry powder
10 gms turmeric powder
4 gms chilli powder (kashmiri deghi mirch)
500 gms mayonnaise
300 gms greek yogurt
10 gms dijon
6 gms tabasco sauce
6 gms worcestershire sauce
10 gms ginger juice
80 gms lemon juice
To taste salt

30 gms raisins
10 gms cilantro picked
10 gms parsley picked
10 gms chives chopped
15 gms french radish sliced thin
30 gms green apple cut as allumettes
5 gms peppercorns freshly ground
7 gms paprika oil / curry oil
20 gms whole wheat toast cut in points, crusts removed
1 ea lemon wedge

 

Directions:

Place chicken, celery, apple, cucumber, jalapeno, scallions and chives in a mixing bowl, add a pinch of salt and lemon juice, grate zest over.

Mix with curry mayo lightly and add frisée at the end.

Arrange in a flat salad bowl, garnish with herbs, radish, green apple allumettes and ground pepper.

Drizzle paprika oil and serve with toast points and lemon wedge.

For Curry Mayo (yield: 1000 gms)

Heat oil to a smoking point and remove from fire.

Slowly add curry powder to hot oil, making sure not to burn the spices, add chilli powder as well, mix using a whisk into a homogenous mixture.

Bring the mixture to room temperature.

Combine all the other ingredients to spice mixture, check seasoning and set aside