Food has always been an integral part in chef Rohit Chadha. Many people don’t know this but his grandfather had a restaurant back in the day serving simple, wholesome food. “I was very clear from the 7th grade that I wanted to be a Chef,’ shared Chadha for whom it was so meticulously planned that he knew IHM Mumbai is where he would want to Pursue Hotel Management and would like to join the Taj Mahal Palace after that. “God has been kind,” he smiles. Excerpts from the interview:
When we talk about your initial days at Taj, you joined looking at their pan Asian restaurant and then at Hemant Oberoi’s restaurant in BKC. What changes have you seen in oriental cuisine especially when we talk about Sichuan food?
I believe that Chinese food has very recently been recognized by its regions in India. The idea of Chinese food was very different 10 – 20 years back. Being such a versatile cuisine in terms of local ingredient being easily accepted, I feel it was stereotyped in India for the longest time, with our Gobhi Manchurian. People have now started travelling and exploring and are open to the idea of experimenting food, so they exactly know how the food is and how it tastes. The food industry has grown tremendously from when I started at the Taj. Availability of ingredients and skilled staff is no longer a hindrance and the demand for Sichuan food is ever growing, which has led to a lot of Standalone restaurants enter and thrive. Sichuan food has come a long way from when I was at golden dragon. It’s no longer the food from the Wok to the bowl or plate, it has become intricately garnished, individually portioned, and Instagramable.
How was it working with experienced and globally known chef like Chef Oberoi? What are few of his learnings that we can see you adopting at Hyatt?
It was one of the best experiences of my life. Opening Hemant Oberoi and working with Chef has honed me into the person and the Chef I am today. I have always seen Chef Oberoi enter the Kitchen before everyone and leaving after everyone has left, in my stint with him for close to 2 years I have not seen him take a day off or a Sick day. Such has been his passion towards his work and food. I feel I have got that from him and shall carry it wherever I go. Respect for food, No short cuts, No substitutes and constantly reinventing yourself are some of the other learning that I am adopting at the Hyatt and would continue to do so all my life.
Hyatt is known for its sustainable, fresh and local menu produce. How are you trying to carry forward this legacy?
Well it is very easy for a Chef to be carried away when it comes to procuring ingredients when you are associated with a big brand without realising that beautiful and fresh produce are right in front of your eyes this whole time. Majority of the Menu at Zeta at Hyatt Regency Pune consists of sustainable, fresh local produce. The new menu trails are in accordance with what is in season and readily available. I can say it with a lot of pride that all my fresh produce is procured from 20 kms around Pune. In hindsight I must say Hyatt’s food philosophy allows us Chefs to take a lot of trips to the Local Market which my team and I enjoy a lot.
Sustainability has become a hot topic today. Do you think it is limited to only food?
Absolutely not. Sustainability is the need of the hour in every walk of life starting from something as basic as water to something as complex as energy. It is something that we owe to our self and our future generation. We must realise that we cannot take our natural resources for granted and learn to respect it.
What will be some of your speciality menu we can see on Hyatt menu now?
The Pune’s Favourite BCG is what I would call as a Signature dish of Zeta. The Pork Belly is something that is really close to my heart as well. A Crispy Calicut Calamari and Kol mi no patio are some of my contributions to the menu amongst several others.
We have seen that Middle Eastern cuisine has influenced diners in India. Since, you have spent time in Middle Eastern countries. What makes this cuisine a close competitor of other world cuisine?
I have had the wonderful opportunity of training at the Madinat Jumeirah and Burj Al Arab where I experienced middle eastern cuisine up close and personal. The middle eastern cuisine has been influenced by both Europe and Asia because of its geographical boundaries. This has led to a very unique cuisine which gives equal importance to its meat, Vegetables, dairy and breads. Mezzes, Kebabs , leavened breads and Laminated pastries is what makes this cuisine technically very sound coupled with The use of Subtle flavours and spices makes it a Close competitor to other world cuisine.
If not in kitchen, where can we see you spending time?
Travelling, Reading a book, Climbing a Mountain , Watching a movie.