Mumbai’s new cast of International Chefs get on the griller as they divulge their cooking creeds.
Who: Alex Sanchez,
Restaurant: The Table,
The range of Sanchez’s cooking style reflects the cultural diversity of his hometown, San Francisco. He is dedicated to preserving the integrity of his ingredients, be it a carrot or an expensive cut of meat. “Cooking is about spontaneity, sensuality, and the giving of pleasure,” he declares.
Craziest order you have received?
“In an upscale restaurant back in San Francisco we had a superstitious guest who refused to eat anything in even numbers. He ordered a salad, naturally, and I was in the kitchen counting every leaf, every herb, every garnish to make sure it was in odd numbers.”
You have 12 hours to live, what meal do you have?
“Hands down my mom’s lasagna or my grandma’s leg of lamb — either would allow me to relive my entire life in one bite!”
How do you rate Mumbaikar diners?
“It’s difficult to generalise but I’m learning they like bold flavours and large portions. Being largely well-travelled there is also an appreciation for some subtlety and nuance.”
Who: Praiwan Sripal,
Restaurant: Red Zen,
Cuisine: Pan Asian
Four months into his Mumbai culinary foray and Thai Chef Praiwan has assembled a menu drawing from Thai, Chinese, Singaporean, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Indonesian influences. He cooks by six words, “Keep it fresh, keep it simple!”
“A guest once requested a dish that was ‘not dead’.”
12 hours to live, what meal?
“I’m a simple man with simple tastes so it would be a fresh, authentic meal, raw papaya salad, Thai green curry and steamed rice.”
Best thing since sliced bread?
In the Thai food world that would be the strong and aromatic fish sauce (Nam Pla) — the staple ingredient of Thai cuisine.
Who: Alain Coumont,
Restaurant: Le Pain Quotidien,
Cuisine: European Continental
Having opened a Colaba branch of the international brand in January, Belgian Coumont believes dishes should be a combination of colourful presentation and flavourful ingredients.
“A friend was re-enacting a stylish tennis shot with a long slicer and took a piece of my finger off in the demonstration. I also broke my toe after dropping a six kilo frozen salmon I was holding by the tail.”
12 hours to live, what meal?
“The best bottle of wine for sure and fresh truffle, if I’m lucky enough to die in
“There is a very diverse range in preference and demographics and, as diners, they are discerning, sophisticated and well-traveled.”
Who: Gia Tong,
Vietnamese Chef Tong has been plying his trade in Mumbai for just one month and is determined to bring eye-catching and colourful dishes to the dining scene.
“A customer wanted their braised spare ribs medium-rare but I had to go out and personally explain to them that, because the dish is cooked for six hours, that would be pretty hard!”
“I was using a Chinese chopper to cut up some chicken and was so busy listening to instructions I chopped off part of my thumb.”
“I am used to using snails but when I came to Mumbai I was told to take them off the menu, clearly it’s not Mumbaikar diners’ cup of tea.”