In an exclusive interview with Restaurant India, Chef Vanshika Bhatia, head chef and co-founder, Together at 12th talked about why it is important have zero waste in the kitchen, the challenges that she faces with the supplies and the significance of using local ingredients in the dishes. At the sidelines of the Indian Restaurant Congress 2019 event, she also spoke about the ‘Chef’s World Tour’, which is going to be held in Chicago next year
How sustainable is our menu today?
Let us, first of all, consider zero wastage. That is not an option and is something which has to be done to ensure that every bit of ingredient is used. For example, something as basic as coriander roots, which should not be thrown away. They are full of nutrition and can make your dish look great. So, why throw away something which is edible? There is a lot of effort that goes into growing something. It’s absolutely not sustainable for the farmers and the chefs. We pay for it; we ask for a kilogram of beetroot, we get the leaves and the beetroot. However, we peel the beetroot and throw away the leaves. Thus, the yield automatically becomes 50%. What we are getting is not worth of what we are paying.
What are the challenges you face with managing your supplies?
Sometimes when I don’t find something from the supplier, I just go to the market and buy it myself or ask one of the chefs or their families to send it from their houses. The only challenge that we face is with the software that manages the restaurant. We have to put in our recipes so that the inventory also gets updated on that software. If we sell one dish, and let’s say it has this much of a particular ingredient, then it will get deducted automatically from that software. This sounds quite good, but uploading all of that is actually very difficult.
We are a seasonal restaurant and keep changing our menu very regularly. It’s been five months and we have already changed it thrice. So, that is a challenge. It’s challenging to keep on uploading so many different recipes especially when we are using tomatoes in one dish and its seeds and skin in other dishes.
Why, in your opinion, is it important to incorporate local ingredients to the dishes?
Whatever is local is good for you. It is good for the farmers. The money we spend for importing ingredients, the same money we can give to our farmers. Everybody is talking about organic produce and how it is expensive. I suggest saving the money that you are spending on importing ingredients and give it to the person who is actually trying to do something good for you.
Could you comment on the Chef’s World Tour event?
We did this event last year in Netherlands, next year we are doing it probably in Chicago. It’s just a bunch of chefs who are travelling and cooking. That is what it is. We are also collaborating with a South Indian chef who works at a restaurant at Nadodi in Malaysia.
What are the culinary trends you have observed in recent times?
I think being sustainable is the most important trend happening right now. It is really good that it is happening because we really need to save our world.