Portrait of Chef Rana

Meet Chef Bhupendra Rana: Beyond the Plate Silver Winner

Published on : 10/18/23
    • ChefRana-BeyondthePlate_500x500.jpgYears of service with Sodexo: 3 years
    • Location: Ontario
    • Segment: Healthcare and Seniors
    • Role: Executive Chef

    Chef Bhupendra Rana, aka Chef Rana, is the executive chef at a children’s hospital in Ontario and is the Silver Winner of the 2023 Beyond the Plate Challenge. He has been with Sodexo for just over three years.

    The Beyond the Plate nominations have shone a line on the true talents that make the Sodexo Canada culinary team, both in the kitchen and through their engagement and leadership. Chef Rana embodies this perfect blend of culinary expertise and mentorship skills.


    A Literal Journey to Culinary Excellence

    Chef Rana's culinary journey began at the age of 16, in a cultural context that favoured careers in engineering or medicine. Despite the discouragement he faced, he could not shake his attraction to the kitchen. 

    His first memory of being in a professional kitchen involved peeling potatoes larger than his hands at his uncle’s restaurant. His father even arranged for his uncle to give him a tough time in the kitchen to deter him from becoming a chef. But this ruse was in vain. “I fell in love with the organized chaos,” says Chef Rana.

    And so, his culinary journey began.

    As luck had it, his professional career really began at one the most iconic five-star hotels in India: the prestigious Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay. He later joined the first Four Seasons Hotel established in India as part of the pre-opening team. At this location, he worked in a two-storey, 200-seat Asian-inspired restaurant, marking the start of his adventures around the world. 

    Soon after, he was selected to join another pre-opening team for a new Four Seasons Hotel restaurant in Sydney, Australia, becoming deeply knowledgeable in the pre-opening processes. “I saw the place where it was nothing,” he recalls. “I saw it built up from nothing.”

    His next stop was Thailand, where he worked at Blue Elephant, a restaurant with deep-rooted Thai culinary heritage. He eventually returned to his homeland and joined the creative food team of MasterChef India for one season. He played a vital role in planning, organizing and executing the challenges for the television cooking shows. His final stop in India was the Andaman Islands, where he successfully turned a deficit-stricken restaurant into a profit-making establishment. 

    Chef Rana's globe-trotting culinary journey eventually led him to Canada, where he continued to expand his repertoire, working at various locations, including the City of Toronto and a fine-dining French restaurant.

    Navigating a Changing Landscape

    Chef Rana's transition from high-end dining establishments to the food services of Sodexo represented a significant shift in his career. As the restaurant industry took a hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, he sought new horizons. His mentor directed him towards a path in healthcare, ultimately leading him to Sodexo.

    Chef Rana’s initial focus was on understanding the various industries and the unique challenges they posed. He’s grateful for his district manager who really pushed him and kept him active. “I was always looking at new things with a new perspective, but with what I could bring,” he recalls. “A little bit of this, a little bit of that made this recipe come together.” 

    In particular, he highlighted his role in handling many openings — from senior care communities to hospitals — and how each new unit brought distinct challenges. “I am getting to learn a lot about the corporate side of this world,” he says. 

    Chef Rana's approach to addressing these culinary challenges is both systematic and rooted in his hands-on experiences. His book of notes (yes, he has one!), filled with past experiences, serves as a valuable resource, allowing him to draw upon his wealth of knowledge to effectively manage new obstacles. “I’ve been trying to amalgamate my knowledge and my skill to be of value to the company.” For him, every kitchen and every opening presents a distinct puzzle to be solved.

    Recipes for Future Leaders

    Chef Rana's leadership style shines in his exceptional mentorship, a cornerstone of his success. He's not just a leader but a hands-on coach who immerses himself in his team's daily routines to understand their unique challenges and skill sets and to cater to their growth potential. 

    “I literally put myself in their shoes,” he says. “How is their day looking like when they come in the morning? How do they plan their day for success?” This personalized approach is deeply rooted in his belief that everyone has untapped potential.

    “I just manage the kitchen,” he continues. “But cooking your dish? It’s this person. So how do I keep their spark alive?

    For instance, with an ambitious young team member, Chef Rana's mentorship involves providing guidance, sharing innovative recipes and imparting culinary techniques to fuel his growth. “He’s hungry for learning new things, for learning new techniques,” he says of this young cook. “I worked with him, giving him the knowledge from my past lives, saying ‘Hey, you can do this!’” This approach led to culinary breakthroughs, expanding Sodexo's catering and event offerings significantly at his unit.

    So, what is next?

    ChefRana-Creation_500x500.jpgAs he envisions a future where he may one day run a restaurant, Chef Rana’s focus remains on keeping the engine running in the present. His story serves as a reminder that unexpected opportunities can lead to incredible success. While the future may hold new ambitions, Chef Rana's appreciation for his current journey shines through, and it's evident that he has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

    When asked if he had any last words, Chef Rana wanted to express his gratitude.

    “If my district manager would have not given me the opportunity to showcase what I have, it would just have been in with me in my back pocket somewhere, waiting for the right time for me to show my cards. So, I am thankful to [him].”


    Discover more inspiring stories and Meet our People.