Travel Talk by Shamsul Wahid

From sipping a pea soup in sub zero temperatures in Antarctica to experiencing foodgasm over a tenderloin burger and coffee in Swiss Alps, Chef Shamsul Wahid — The man at the helm of kitchens in chic, popular ... and we must admit... one of our favourites... Smoke House Deli and Social tells us how his cooking stint across the world has shaped his present culinary skills...

While my life may not seem very exciting, life at the stove is definitely a great adventure! To create something out of nothing is a great feeling. It is like a book you write everyday right from the time you enter the kitchen to the time you sign off and call it a day. There are many stories, many concepts and many vantage points to a chef's life. Each day presents a different problem and different solutions to the same problem. And the results are delicious!

Italy is among Shamsul's fondest food destinations
My career has taken me across the globe. After a brief stint with Taj Palace, New Delhi, I joined P&O Cruises and subsequently worked for Costa Crociere, an Italian cruise company and Holland America Line, a Dutch company. This exposed me to different cuisines, fresh produce and an array of ingredients from around the world. When I joined Impresario in 2007 as the Executive Chef for Smoke House Deli, the menu was curated to “cater to people with any food mood.”  From old recipes to interesting fusion of flavors and ingredients to pertinent cooking methods, I developed a holistic approach towards cooking with the aim of adding twist to all the dishes based on my varied experiences.

"When I do find time off work, I love to travel and pick places with the best blend of food, culture, adventure and nature, from which I draw inspiration."

From stumbling upon small cafes in Istanbul who serve Turkish coffee and strawberries with Seesha, to the most relaxing experienceof eating split pea soup on the deck of the ship after the shift, in -20 degrees Antarctica (!), every culinary experience has been unique in its own way.

In Rome, apart from its great history, their lavish food still makes me drool! I still remember having some of the best pizzas there. In France, I had the most delicious cheese and steak sandwich opposite the Louvre. However, one of my best experiences was my visit to Argentina, where I had the most delish steak with Spinach and sauce on the waterfront. The Rustic Carnivore buffet was yet another adventurous and hunter-like experience in Argentina, where I saw the meats hanging above a campfire.

"In my opinion, food is the best way to experience cultures."

Meeting people, experiencing their culture, lifestyle, and a passion for food and cooking brings new joy and experience.  It becomes so much more comforting an experience when the amalgamation of cultures comes across through food.

Antarctica Ahoy

Antarctica is pristine and life changing experience feels Shamsul.
He feels there are very few places that match its natural charm

As I said, I used to work on a ship before I joined Smoke House . Being on a ship gave me the opportunity to travel to places that one could never do otherwise.  I still remember my last cruise on the MS Rotterdam when we were doing Antarctic cruising. Usually one would never get the time to admire and explore but since it was my last cruise before my vacation my reliever was already on board so it gave me time to explore this beautiful untouched unadulterated form of Mother Nature ….. Just the way Allah had made her. It was pristine surreal and almost spiritually life changing to come so close to his creation untouched by man. The whole scenery was just three colurs — Black, White and Blue. I used to spend my entire evenings on the Deck. looking out in almost – 20 degree temperature.

"Sipping on pea soup while looking out from the deck of a cruise in almost – 20 degrees Celsius temperature remains my fondest food memory."

Istanbul High

Istanbul offers an amazing amalgamation of world cuisine and cultures. It is a bustling melting pot.
I just love Istanbul. We used to sneak out during our lunch breaks and visit these fantastic cafes which were by the street side and have Sheesha and some really strong Turkish coffee. Turkish coffee is like dope. It really awakens you like no other beverage. It charged us up for the dinner service ahead. By the time our caffeine levels dripped by late evenings, we would simply crash on our beds as if all the energy was sapped out of us. Istanbul is always bustling and is a melting pot of cultures. European, Middle eastern, Mediterranean and even North African influences make it a truly cosmopolitan city.

Naples Nosh and Rome Binge

This was where we had those amazing pizzas and pastas. This experience though was some time ago. At a time when we used to actually eat food and not merely click it as Facebook and Instagram were unheard of at that time. These cities are among the best places in Europe and I really wish that I could spend at least a month here because a week simply isn’t enough for experiencing Italy.

Parisian Perk

Shamsul with his wife Shama in Paris

Paris was super fun. You could never really go wrong with a restaurant in Paris.  I had a crazy beef sandwich which was so good and tried another awesome humongous four cheese pizza. Apart from that, unlimited coffees at the river front and croissants for breakfast are a must have. It is a heaven for food lovers. Even plain simple chips with ketchup we had under the Eiffel tower tasted super.

Engelberg: The Swiss Breakfast I Shall Never Forget 

My wife Shama and I checked into Banklialp Hotel the day before we went to Mt Titlis. We woke up early morning as we were advised to leave early. But that early morning breakfast was life changing.
There was practically no one up at that time. The whole city was quiet — so quite that we could hear the water flow from a nearby quarry. We had a tenderloin burger and coffee that morning. This was a soothing experience that satiated all our senses. It was a unique satisfaction that we had smiles for the next couple of days. It was probably my first experience of what can be called foodgasm.

Shamsul Wahid is Group Executive Chef at Smoke House Deli and Social. He narrated his culinary journey to Nausheen Tareen.

 More such amazing experiences on our facebook group Hop On and Hop Off
Follow us on instagram: @hoponandhopoff
Twitter: @hoponandhopoff


  1. Very few ppl understand the immense hard work involved when you work as a professional chef!!! but how rewarding it could be, is indeed shown here by you.Beautiful description!

    Great Job Shamsul! Keep it up