» SUNDAY MAGAZINE
Chef’s Table concept comes as a boon to those who want to dine well without
breaking the bank, writes SHEILA KUMAR
The world of diners is divided into two. The first lot, the
adventurous, head to a select restaurant, scan the menu with the intense
concentration of a lawyer reading fine print, and ask for a mix of exotic and
familiar foodstuffs. They eat voraciously, praise or condemn ferociously and,
usually, leave with a smile on their faces.
The second set is the perfectionists – trenchant critics but not
trenchermen. The dals must be tempered just so. The tenderloin must not be too
tender. They raise their eyebrows at the rose wine, which seems a trifle
underage. These are not out on a culinary adventure; they are there to eat the
food they know well. And that food had better be perfect.
Now here is a way to make both sets of diners happy: Chef’s
Table (CT) concept. Deconstructed, it means one chef per restaurant creates a
six-course tasting menu, which is an artful mix of the smart and the sublime.
Most restaurants allocate a fixed number of covers a night. The prices are
wallet-friendly. The gourmand eats well; the gourmet eats well. And everyone
goes home happy.
Indian Accent, New Delhi
According to Nachiket Shetye, Director, Desi Restaurant Week Pvt.
Ltd., the organisers of Chef’s Table Week and Restaurant Week India, “This is
fine dining made fun. With the Chef’s Table, the customer gets to decide what
to eat, ask the chef questions about the dishes, the ingredients, cooking
techniques...” Adds Rishi Manucha of Blue Ginger at the Taj West End,
Bangalore, “The personal touch involved is deeply satisfying.”
The Chef’s Table aims to become a regular feature of Indian fine
dining and, for now, is held every three months in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
Two CT fests have already rolled out in March and April, and the next will be
in a few months.
For some of the chefs involved, it is all about the food.
Sandeep Kalra of Konomi at the Trident Gurgaon puts it this way: “Good food is
one that touches the soul!” Vikas Vichare of Botticino at the Trident, Bandra
Kurla expands, “When we present a tailor-made meal to guests, and they wipe
their plate clean? That’s the biggest compliment for any chef. That’s what is
behind CT.” And Amit Wadhawan of the Oberoi, Bangalore, waxes almost lyrical
when he says, “It is akin to enjoying a wine in the vineyard, with the
winemaker explaining the notes or being involved in the creation of that
wedding dress from fabric to finish.”
For some chefs, it’s about the diners. Listen to Irfan Pabaney
of the Sassy Spoon, Mumbai: “It is mostly about the interaction with the guest.
The culinary challenge comes next.”
Abhijit Saha of Caperberry, Bangalore, gets to indulge his
“inherent urge to be creative and a strong desire to delight customers who
want that extra punch out of their visit to my restaurants.”
Some chefs look at the larger picture. Manu Chandra, Executive
Chef, Olive Beach Bangalore and Likethatonly, Bangalore, says, “Customers want
experiences that are exclusive, elevated from the regular. There is a very high
level of trust involved between customer and chef in this case, and usually
this relationship ends up in a great meal.”
Blue Ginger, Bangalore
Chef Dhruv Oberoi of Olive Bar and Kitchen, Mehrauli, Delhi,
seconds that sentiment: “A lot of fun, laughter and my guests have the comfort
level of kitchens at home when our moms use to cook and feed us right there.”
Talking about the silent diner, the one who eats well but does
not relish a pow-wow with the chef, Liang Xiao Qing, Executive Chinese chef,
Pan Asian, ITC Maratha, Mumbai, avers: “I firmly believe that my food
should do the talking. It gives me immense pleasure to see a diner
come back to my restaurant even though he has not spoken to me.” Davide
Travertine at the Oberoi, New Delhi sums it up beautifully: “The plate itself
is a dialogue and sometimes conversation is not needed.”
So there we have it. A posse of passionate chefs. A sumptuous
array of haute chow like king prawns in pepper teriyaki sauce, Beijing-styled
roast duck, black pepper tenderloin, Mongolian-style choice
of meat and vegetables, smoked tongue with sautéed sweetbreads,
flaming foie gras with floral salad, cigar-smoked salmon, palm hearts,
Portobello mushrooms, white asparagus and truffled artichokes. Bento boxes. Fun
acts with liquid nitrogen. Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese, Thai specialties.
Dietary preferences taken into account. All at affordable prices. What’s not to
New Delhi: Indian Accent, Kainoosh, Konomi,
Olive Bar & Kitchen, Travertino, Tres and Varq
Mumbai: tAurus, Botticino, Ellipsis, Dakshin Coastal, Hakkasan,
Kangan, Pan Asian, The Sassy Spoon and Two One Two in Worli
Bangalore: Caperberry, Blue Ginger, Masala Klub, Karavalli,
Likethatonly, Olive Beach, Rim Naam and Royal
Price: Rs.2,500 in Delhi and Mumbai and Rs 2,000 in Bangalore
through www.chefstableweek.com Will go live a week before the event.
Labels: Chef`s Table, Feature, Food