In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Chef Hemant Oberoi unfolds his culinary tales.
Chef Hemant Oberoi is one name in Indian culinary map who has setup a trend of bringing newness to the country’s dining scenario. Chef Oberoi is the man behind the food at some of the Taj Group's renowned restaurants including Varq, Masala Kraft, Wasabi and Zodiac Grill to name a few. An admirer of fine cooking, Oberoi opened his first restaurant in Singapore in May 2016 expanding his creative stint with food to the international market. “It was boring working as a consultant because your creativity dies and it becomes a 9 to 5 job,” shares Oberoi who after working as an advisor for Taj Group for over a year thought of opening his own restaurants because for a person whose day begins at 9 and ends at 2 midnight spending time in kitchen and listening to the guest it was boring.
Breaking the Myth
A chef can be a best entrepreneur and Chef Oberoi has proved this from his unstoppable creativeness at his luxury restaurant at BKC which spells relief for his fans after almost a year of him moving from Taj. Chef Oberoi opened his first restaurant Yantra by Hemant Oberoi on 20th May 2016 in Singapore, marking his entry into restaurant world. And since then there is no looking back. He opened another two restaurants within a year- Masala Street in San Diego and Hemant Oberoi in BKC, Mumbai. “I don’t think there is a comparison for this kind of restaurant,” smiles Chef Oberoi who completed the project in four and a half month. “My brief was very simple 19th century French dining and it should reflect that,” adds Oberoi appreciating his designer who has converted his dream project into reality. The restaurant has got 24 feet high sealing which you don’t get today and is a 62 seater with a private dining.
Never Ending ‘Fan’ Club
From celebrities like Rishi and Neetu Kapoor, Amitabh and Jaya Bachchan, Akshay and Twinkle Khanna to cricketers like Sachin Tendulkar and the likes of Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata all have loved and admired the master chefs cooking for more than 30 years. “I have known Rishi and Neetu for about 35-40 years. A serial about my cooking and life is being made on Livingz Food which will have one episode dedicated to them,” smiles Chef Oberoi who is ruling Indian food market from last four decades. It doesn’t end here former British Prime Minister John Major liked the Dum Ka Zaffrani Gosht (lamb curry) so much that he sent Chef Oberoi a note from the UK. The recipe was sent to the Bombay Brasserie restaurant in London so it could be made and dispatched to No. 10 Downing Street whenever there was a request from the occupant. It used to be called "the John Major Curry", shares Chef Oberoi proudly. Major's illustrious predecessor Margaret Thatcher too was a fan, as are the Obamas and the Royals from Arab.
Ruling the Culinary World
Running your own business is altogether a different cup of tea. You need to be on both side of the game- managing day to day operations and looking after the kitchen works. “I am still on both cooking my food and looking after my kitchen works,” shares Oberoi adding that earlier Taj was the brand now Hemant Oberoi is the brand. “It puts a little pressure when you are running your restaurant by your name,” he further adds. The chef is not running after any award and believes that the happy customers are the greatest gift. “My biggest award is when a customer enters with a smile. I am not running after money and that’s not my passion. My passion is the customer satisfaction and we should be able to deliver happiness,” says Oberoi who thinks that the whole concept about the new dining experience is the great evident.