Sharp as their knives, these chefs are cutting no corners in their journey to revolutionise India’s fine-dining industry. We caught up with the young Turks to find out what’s hot.
The young chef—graduated from the Chandigarh Institute of Hotel Management and trained under heavyweights such as Chefs Ferran Adrià and Albert Adrià at Tickets (a tapas bar in Barcelona)—almost did not become a chef. He was offered the job of a flight steward at 17, but instead, chose to train with Olive Bar and Kitchen in Delhi. Its legacy, championed by Chef Sujan Sarkar, has grown leaps and bounds with his vision and innovations.
SOMETHING MANY DON’T KNOW “I worked with a mithaiwala in my college days and learnt to make soan papdi.”
STRESS BUSTER Relaxing at home while surfing on Netflix or reading art, culture, and food magazines.
GUILTY PLEASURE Bitter chocolate with sweet Muscatel Sherry.
A FAN BOY MOMENT “I met Chefs Ferran Adrià, Heston Blumenthal, and Joan Roca together at Madrid Fusion. It was surreal, like meeting my favourite superheroes.”
TRAVEL BUCKET LIST The Maldives, Japan, and Peru.
CURRENT CUISINE OBSESSION “I’ve always been obsessed with Japanese, but now I’m influenced by Peruvian.”
THREE THINGS YOU CANNOT TRAVEL WITHOUT “My camera, my perfume, and my diary.”
ON YOUR SHELF Never Trust A Skinny Chef by Massimo Bottura.
Known to brew up a storm in the kitchen when he’s not enjoying a chilled beer, Morwani is the co-founder, director, and executive chef of Brewbot, one of the most successful breweries in Mumbai. His philosophy is to create a unique experience for his customers by sourcing the best raw materials and ingredients for his concoctions. It helps that Indian consumers have developed the palate for craft beers, he adds. “I strongly believe that once you have sampled true craft beers, it’s hard to go back to drinking commercial products. It is a matter of taste, variety, and the overall experience.” When experimenting with a new flavour, Morwani takes inspiration from his travels, and the seasonal local produce also influences his choice, he tells us.
YOUR ‘ANY TIME OF THE DAY’ DISH Chargrilled medium rare steak with béarnaise sauce, served with hand cut fries tossed in truffle oil and freshly grated parmesan.
FAVOURITE BREWERIES IN MUMBAI Doolally for its Rauchbier (smoked beer).
AN ACCIDENTAL SUCCESS A stout using cherries called Black Forest.
A MEMORABLE DISH FROM YOUR TRAVELS “Sea urchins, straight out of the ocean with citrus vinaigrette on a boat after a diving trip in Bali. It is something I’ll never forget, a dish so humble and simple, made with limited resources on a moving boat.”
TRAVEL BUCKET LIST Skydiving in Switzerland.
THREE TRAVEL MUST-HAVES Headphones, shorts, and sunglasses.
A GREAT DISCOVERY “In Paris, I discovered the A L’ouest brew (an American style, pale wheat ale) by Brasserie du Grand Paris. I recommend it for its balance and sessionability.
Cooking, for Chef Priyam Chatterjee, is a thought process. Born in a family of great cooks, he fell in love with food at a young age. He trained under his mentor French Chef Jean Claude Fugier and Spanish Chef Royo Matteo Grandi. Today, he is a known name in Delhi’s culinary circles as the executive chef of the fine-dining European restaurant, QLA. “It is an ever-evolving space and very special. We constantly nurture ideas and see them take shape, in the kitchen and the restaurant,” he says. He recently went to France for croissant-hunting.
MUST-TRY AT QLA For first-timers, he recommends the lamb and the sea bass. The black rice with green curry cream is good, too.
BEST IN THE GAME “I think Chef Megha Kohli of Lavaash by Saby is pushing the boundaries. I like Whisky Samba as well.”
FAVOURITES IN TOWN Bella Cucina and A ta Maison.
DOWN THE LINE “I have goals and I work towards them, but I don’t plan my future. But yes, I would like to open a fine-dining restaurant one day and I hope it would be a game-changer.”
ACCIDENTAL SUCCESS The Lamb By The Pine Forest was meant to be something else, but now it has become an icon.
FAVOURITE INGREDIENTS Fish and vegetables.
TRAVEL BUCKET LIST Stockholm, San Francisco, and Australia.
A graduate from The Culinary Institute of America, Chef Alex Sanchez has trained at Michelin-starred restaurants, La Folie and Manresa, in the States. At 26, the American born chef briefly moved to India to handle the reins of The Table, and later went to the US for a year to work under Chef Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park (another Michelin star). Now he is back to the country, designing globally inspired, experimental menus at The Table and Magazine Street Kitchen (Devidayal Compound; Byculla; +91-22/2372-6708) as the Executive Chef.
A FANBOY MOMENT “In 2011, I had dinner with Chef Alain Passard, of the famed Parisian restaurant, L’Arpège. I was sitting next to him the whole time—he speaks very little English and I speak very little French. I wanted to ask him so many questions, but since I couldn’t, I just sat there with a sheepish look on my face.”
AN INGREDIENT YOU LOVE WORKING WITH “Eggs. I love the sound of the shell when cracked and opened. I love their versatility, and I love how they reveal the true skill of the cook,” he says.
NOBODY KNOWS “I love funny cat videos.”
AN ACCIDENTAL SUCCESS Boneless chicken wings that were initially prepared as an hors d’oeuvre for a pre-opening party of The Table.
FUTURE PLANS I’ve always dreamt of opening my own restaurant.”
CRAZIEST THING DONE ON A HOLIDAY “I once walked in the rain in Bilbao, Spain, for an hour… wearing a three-piece suit.”
SOMETHING YOU ALWAYS BRING BACK Mustard and salt.
“Nine to five was never my thing,” says Akshay Bhardwaj, Executive Chef of the increasingly popular Whisky Samba at One Horizon Centre, Gurgaon. A foreign exchange student in France, he started travelling in his college days—a passion he inherited from his parents. After graduating, he worked in the marketing department of a hotel in Brussels and moonlighted as a part-time cook. His last stint before coming back to the country was at NOMA Copenhagen and he has also worked at the two Michelin-starred Relais Chateau Le Bateau Ivre in France. We chat with the chef who has just returned from a family trip to Kenya.
AS A CHILD “I wanted to be an air force pilot, but decided against it. I wasn’t good at math.”
A TRUE GLOBETROTTER “I’ve lived in France, Spain, South America, Singapore, Copenhagen, China, and Canada.”
FONDEST MEMORY OF FOOD Paranthas cooked by mom.
THE DREAM “I want to meet Spanish Chef Ferran Adrià.”
BUCKET LIST “I’m planning to go to the Arctic and that’s going to be an achievement of a lifetime.”
PASSIONS “I love watching documentaries on wars.”
IF NOT A CHEF “Then I might have been a writer or a poet. I do maintain a personal diary and write for myself.”