In tete-a-tete with Restaurant India, Chef Gaurav Anand, Executive Chef at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal talks about new trends.
Chef, you have travelled across the globe working for the best in the industry. Tell us about your journey in the world of food?
Well, my journey started way back when I had joined the catering college in Ahmedabad and my love for food started from there itself. As this was my first time away from home and I discovered a vast culinary experience in Gujarat. The culinary culture in Ahmedabad is very unique and homely. Then after graduation I went to Luck now, the city of nawabs to work in Taj group of hotels. There I learned how the meat is loved….. yes the love of kebabs and biryani. Learning the basic aspects of the “Lucknowi Cuisine” I went to TMTP (Taj Management training program) to enhance my culinary skills with the Taj Hotels. While working with the group I got exposure to the world of food and enhanced my skill set while working in Taj Mahal Hotel, New Delhi, Taj Palace Hotel, New Delhi, Taj Westend and for some time at Taj Mahal, Mumbai… during my Taj days, I went to Northern Italy to learn and develop the art of crafting rustic and authentic Italian cuisine. After moving from Taj Hotels I explored my newly honed skills at various roles and responsibilities at Hyatt Hotels, Legacy Starwood Hotels and now Marriott International.
What will be your key responsibility looking at the culinary operations at Marriott?
My key responsibility as the Executive Chef at Courtyard by Marriott Bengaluru Hebbal will be keeping true to the Marriott International food culture of “Go Local” and also keeping it simple and fresh to maintain the authenticity of the food as close as possible. Also, to explore the local and indigenous cuisine to the maximum and showcase the same at our outlets as well. The beauty in making food is that the right essence and actual charisma of the dish should not be lost.
What uniqueness and innovation would you like to introduce when planning the menu?
Well, innovation is the key to success in the life of a chef. While planning the menu I would like to serve authentic local Indian food and global cuisine with a little twist in presentation and also giving the guest a world-class dining experience in not only taste but all aspects from the time they enter the restaurant to the time they leave.
You have been known for creating exotic food and out of the box recipes. Can we know the trick?
The ongoing innovation, experimentation and keeping abreast of the current trends inspire me to try out the new dishes, new techniques, and new flavours.
What according to you is the key essential of a perfect menu?
The perfect balance of food is the nutrients and the right amount of authenticity and lots of love makes the menu perfect. I can still remember my teachers always emphasizing on the basics of the food technique, that will keep the food close to the taste and innovation comes with own desire to experiment.
How are trying to in cash on the new age customers’ via your restaurants?
The new age customers are now very much experimental since they travel a lot, their knowledge in food culture and tradition has now become vast. For example, when they taste a dish like hummus in India they expect the flavors to be as authentic as the hummus they had in the Middle East … so to match the palate of these guests is challenging but fun. This also keeps me strong in sticking to the good old basics and ensuring I’m spot on with my food.
Who are you targeting as your customer?
Well, I am trying my best to craft the food in accordance to “Trailblazers”, the modern day business travelers. These are the people who are frequent travelers of many places across the globe and also know their food quite well. We also of course customize dishes as per guest preferences as well.
We have seen that these days customers’ have become much choosier when dining out. How are you matching up those standards?
Well, the key to success with these guests is listening to them and then try and adapt the dishes as per their liking. Since the new age guest also like to know what is the nutritional value of the food, so I try and keep myself well prepared with the nutritional value and calorie count of the food.
Chef you are known for you work globally under some of the best chefs and names. What do you think where is India heading in term of food trends?
India is a developing country in terms of its food identity around the world as people are now realizing that the cuisine is much more than the popular curries and kebabs seen on TV. But with the onset of celebrity chefs and food-related TV programs promoting cuisine it has progressed way beyond what it used to be. Indian Chefs around the world are also showcasing diversity in not only flavor but also region and presentation of the food from all corners of our country.
How difficult/easy it is for you to cater to Indian taste buds?
It’s actually, not difficult but I would say it is bit tricky, as most of the Indians start relating to their home food if they like something and they start remembering their mom or grandmom for the taste. So, in India, it’s more of emotional cooking rather than sticking to the core recipe.