David Ansted has lived around the world and worked with celebrity chefs like Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck and Raymond Blanc at Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons. From The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado to St. Regis in Singapore, Ritz Carlton in Jamaica, The Banyan Tree in Seychelles, Shangri-La Taipei and Fairmont Southampton, Ansted comes to Grand Hyatt Goa with a rich experience of 25 years. We talk to him to learn more about his expectations from India. By Radhika Sikaria
RS: You have been all over the world; Florida, UK, Singapore, China, Seychelles, and Bermuda before moving to Goa. How does travel feature in your work and life in general?
DA: I am blessed that I am fortunate enough to be in a career field that allows me to travel. It is a double blessing because it allows me to learn about food in the various countries that I work in. I continue to find this journey of food and culture as fascinating as it was when I started. However, it is hard work moving to new hotels and constantly driving for change and improvement. Customer’s preferences vary dramatically and so do hotel cultures. It is also difficult on my family to change friends, schools and lifestyles each time we move.
RS: What are your expectations and vision for Grand Hyatt Goa?
DA: Grand Hyatt Goa is a unique property and a gem within India. We are one of the most desirable destinations in India for exclusive weddings and events. We can be a very exclusive as well as a boutique style resort at the same time. I am looking forward to meeting the needs of both of those customers.
The products will be (as much as possible) sourced from our local fishermen, farmers and producers to give you an experience like non-other. I want to bring our food and beverage venues an identity that is beyond the typical hotel restaurant offerings. Serving thoughtful, inventive, and authentic cuisine that inspires our chefs and our customers.
RS: What has training with celebrity chefs like Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc taught you?
DA: Heston Blumenthal and Raymond Blanc had very different interpretations towards food and running a kitchen. Both, equally passionate about their craft and driven towards success. There are other chefs that I worked under that also taught me discipline and self-sacrifice. For me, the journey was not just learning to become a professional chef but, also the journey to becoming a responsible man. I often find myself asking what those chefs would think if I offered them a dish that I am now presenting. I suppose that it is my benchmark. The greatest thing that I have learned is to throw a dish away and start again if I know that it is not right. Food shouldn’t come with excuses.
RS: Cities in the world that you revisit often because of the food there? Which are your personal favourite restaurants over the world? Name the favourite dish there, if any.
DA: Kitcho in Taipei for sushi. Wagyu strip steak at Waterlot Inn in Bermuda. Best cocktail was the Manhattan at New York’s Prime Steakhouse. However, my most memorable meal is still Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse à l’Hôtel de Paris. The attention to detail and decadence was unparalleled to anything that I have experienced as a customer.
RS: A city that is most evocative, free, expressive, when it comes to flavours and chefs?
DA: I always liked to work in Singapore because they accept food as it is served authentically. In other words, you don’t have to overcook pasta and load it with chili’s to have an Italian restaurant. Serve it the way that it is in Italy. I enjoyed working in Thailand because the ingredients were so unique and irreplaceable. The hospitality industry is also different because most people simply cannot eat Thai cuisine with the same poignancy that Thai do. I love working with the flavours and chefs of India. When I was in Delhi, we had a strong wine program that required us to offer wine pairings with Indian cuisine. Once we removed the chilies, we were able to create beautiful dishes that had great harmony with wines.