CHENNAI: I had never planned to be a chef but I was always curious, and wanted to know everything and fell into hospitality out of interest. I started liking it a lot only after I got into the industry.
I started my career at a resort in Maldives, and that was my first job for six years. I worked with a lot of expat chefs and was exposed to an influx of cultures and worked with three different properties there.
I moved back and helped set up Leela Bangalore, moved to Dubai for two years before working at Flying Elephant, Park Hyatt. I helped revamp the menu at Park Hyatt while retaining a lot of the old dishes.
Cooking is the common subject that brings nationalities and cultures together. I was fascinated by Western cooking — French, Italian and European. I’m all about exploring new cuisines and traveling.
I miss everything about Indian cuisine when I travel! I’ve been travelling in Chennai and eating all the local food since I’ve come back and enjoying myself thoroughly. I was surprised that there were so many ingredients and locally grown ones too. Tamil Nadu has different cuisines too — Ambur side, Palliapalam, etc.
Indian food abroad is not that much, surprisingly. There are a few Indian restaurants with exclusive food, but if you compare it to other cuisines, it is not very well known. It’s sad how the other half the world still thinks Indian food is only butter chicken and biryani. It’s a huge country where different states have different techniques of cooking. From my side, I always try to educate people and tell them that there’s more to Indian food.
The best part is that you can pick up different cooking styles from different chefs and work around it and make it your own. I found comfort food interesting — it’s all about good food, right taste and right texture. It could be any cuisine, but it’s all about comfort; so nothing fancy.
I am also a fan of slow cooking, where the meat is cooked under pressure. The technique is very interesting because it actually locks in the juices and we cook it for four-five hours in low temperature. There isn’t a meat that is softer. A lot of top notch restaurants have started following this now.
I believe that less is more. I prefer small portions of everything and don’t prefer to have huge portions in one meal. Small plates, several items for a meal is always better. Which brings me to my next point — plating. This used to be given more importance earlier but today it’s more about the taste. When I was a couple of years old in the industry, I used to give this more importance. But with time I realised that it is not everything. It’s about taste, overall dining experience.