Talking to Restaurant India Amit Dash, Executive Chef, The Westin Pune talks about innovation and growth in restaurant business.
Amit Dash was always into food and was an integral part of chef Amit Dash’s life since he was a young boy, being brought up in Orissa home food was always the key. Spices and aromatic herbs used to pull him like a charm which has been casted upon him. So he pursued hotel management which was then not in trend yet the passion towards cooking and food made him choose a career which was not a stereotype.
You have got over 2 decade of experience in the industry. Tell us some of the amazing culinary tales that chefs often forget these days?
Being a Chef is at tale in itself, every day is new with a story to follow. During my days at ITC the funniest and most exciting thing which used to happen quite often was learning from the old school Chefs who we can term as Khansamas or maharaj. When they used to prepare any special delicacy spice mix used to be the major ingredient they used to carry potli masala, we being young chefs used to crack the recipe by taking a small amount of it and decoding by tasting followed by trial and error, because that’s how it was. None of the Maharaj’s would tell the new age Chefs their secret potlis recipe.
You are an expert in Awadhi and Indian food. Why people are going back to basics?
Awadhi or I may say the entire Indian cuisine is very diverse, yet chefs have tried and succeeded in fusing it, contemporary or modernist approaches have elevated and given the cuisine a new dimension but to answer your question people are going back to basics because the beauty of Indian food lies in its simplicity.
What are some of the kitchen essentials that you never forget when cooking?
A sharp knife, fresh ingredients and clean workspace.
We see that there is a sudden rise of health freaks in India. How do you cater to their need?
Healthy eating is something which is very essential; statistics show that there has been an increase in people who are inclined towards a healthy lifestyle in the past decade. In terms of catering to these needs, there are guests who would request for very basic needs which are readily available so drafting a health conscious menu for them is not a challenge.
It is believed that cooking is all about being artistic. How do you make your food presentable?
I believe it is an art as well as science. As a chef we need to be equally aware about the physical, chemical and biological changes that occur during cooking. Later to make it look even more presentable and appetizing a Chef turns into an artist where he plays with the colors, flavors, texture and aromas of the ingredients.
How do you see Indian food industry growing with time?
Indian Food Industry is on a boom, it has grown from people dining out it bhojanalayas to trendy Swiggy and Uber Takeaways. Innovation and demand will rise in the industry with the upcoming growth of the economy. The other sector that is booming in the Indian food industry are the healthy apps, which cater and home deliver healthy as well as delicious food to your doorstep. These apps curate healthy food menus which are assisting Indians to move towards a healthy direction.