When not in the kitchen, Chef Michael Swamy likes to travel to new destinations in search of secret local ingredients. By Shikha Pushpan
Chef, food stylist, author, photographer, restaurateur, YouTuber—Michael Swamy is all of this and more. Among the first to introduce food media in India, the Cordon Bleu London luminary goes beyond the kitchen to celebrate the different aspects of food with projects involving filmmaking, styling, and photography. While his cookbook, The East Indian Kitchen, won the prestigious Gourmand Award, his latest, Masala Dabba, is earning rave reviews for its soulful insights into traditional Indian recipes. The chef revealed to us his current obsession and best travel memories.
Who are some chefs you looked up to in your initial years?
Chef Anton Mosimann, the Roux brothers—chefs Albert Roux and Michel Roux, and Chef Marco Pierre White. Their professionalism towards food is outstanding, and it inspired me to be honest with my preparations.
What have been some career-defining moments?
During my internship in the UK, I was fortunate to be a part of the team cooking for the Prince of Wales, and a host of other celebrities. More recently, a project to train local staff at Pugdundee lodges is a dream come true as it combines my passions—wildlife, food, and nature.
What are your favourite cities to indulge in food?
Singapore, Florida, and London. These are also the places where I would love to have a restaurant.
What are some cuisines you love?
Any flavours you’re currently obsessed with?
I have been dabbling a lot with South American flavours of late. Merkén (a smoked chilli pepper) has become one of my favourite ingredients.
What are your top five travel destinations?
Ireland, Spain, Portugal, Singapore, and Thailand.
Lastly, what’s your best travel memory?
During a trip through Rajasthan, we were heading to a [small] town for work. While we were on the bus, I heard the conductor announce, “Udaipur in 15 minutes!” I woke up all my companions and we got off the bus in Udaipur, and spent a night there. It was spontaneous and fun!