In an exclusive interaction with Restaurant India, Chef Karthikeyan, Executive Chef, The Rice Boat Restaurant, Kochi talks about serving fresh sea food.
What you see what you get- The Rice Boat Restaurant located at Kochi is known for its fresh sea foods. Soaked in the experience of entering a traditional 'kettuvalam' rice boat in Cochin, the customers can enjoy the pleasure of seeing it tossed in the chef's pan. The show kitchen of the restaurant prompts you to have a word with the chefs and modify the preparation of your food as per your wish. And all this overlooking the backwaters and the heritage area of Mattancherry.
Tell us about your food journey?
It all began at the age of 13 when I started cooking at home. I started looking for hotel management as a career and found hotel school in Chennai to move forward. In 2008 I completed my studies and joined Taj as a hotel management trainee. After working there for more than two years I shifted to Kochi and I am looking after Rice Boat restaurant from last 5 years.
What’s so special about this restaurant that makes gets come back to this restaurant?
Rice Boat is a boat shaped restaurant and when you look it from outside it will look like a boat and when you enter the restaurant you will have a feel of seating in a boat. The restaurant is located next to the sea. We exclusively do sea food and that is one thing that makes us stand out of the crowd.
How frequently do you experiment with the sea foods?
We do fresh fish every day, the customers actually select the fish from the display and then we cook it according to their preferences. We customise the taste according to their tastes.
Who are some of the top customers visiting The Rice Boat restaurant?
We do all celebrities, film stars and other top notch from around the world. Mr. Modi is a frequent visitor to our restaurant and we cook specialised vegetation food for the Prime Minister.
How do you divide your customers on the basis of ratio- locals’ verses other customers?
We have 50:50 customer bases from South Indians and other parts of the country.
What is the average footfall at your restaurant?
Our restaurant is 36 covers restaurant. We generally do dinner as its view and all goes with dinner. We do very moderate numbers at Lunch- an average 3 tables for lunch and 6-7 tables for the evening.
On season times we do two seating- 7:30 and 9:30 and we do almost 50-60 covers a day.
What trends do you see in the industry these days?
There is lots of trend happening at the kitchens, Indian restaurants are getting a contemporary look. Lots of European countries are opening Indian restaurants. We keep the authenticity of the food and we do playing around plating.
What’s your favourite ingredient to play with while cooking?
I use ginger, garlic, fenugreek and mustard commonly.
What was the most priced passion for you cooking for a celebrity?
We have given fish curry for Prince Charles two years back and that was the best moment.
What is the process of getting sea food to the hotel?
We have a supplier who does the fresh fish every day. The only thing comes from outside in crabs and Salmon.