What trend do you see growing in India when it comes to eating out?
I think India is growing in terms of people eating out. Earlier, it was all about comfort food and that was the kind of food people were eating. But, with people travelling a lot and small little ventures coming in, I think people have now opened up about innovation and are accepting new things.
Tells us about your experience in the world of food?
I run a restaurant called Tian- Asian Cuisine Studio at the ITC Maurya. We do not do a regular fare of Chinese, Thai, Japanese or anything similar to that; we are a south East Asian restaurant. So, there is nothing in the menu that you have eaten in that form. Amalgamating a Chinese component with a Japanese element probably having spices from Thailand and fermentation and techniques of Korea. It’s all about bringing the best of everything that I have learned. It’s about my learning that I have in 16 years of my career being transferred into the menu.
When was Tian opened and what was was the idea behind it?
We opened Tian, a year and a half ago. There was a restaurant called Humble House at the same location. We opened Tian only with the focus of serving foods that are unique, serving experiences and not dishes. There is not a single signature dish in my restaurant. The signature in my restaurant is the experience and that’s all that matters.
How are you bringing an ever lasting experience to the diners table?
People are accepting these things much more now and their focus on fine dine segment is on experience rather than the plates that come out in the ambiance. It’s about the holistic experience. People will spend time in a restaurant, not just to have food, but to have a holistic experience and that’s the whole focus now.
What’s your view on the growing culture of Asian food in India?
The kind of segments of restaurants opening up in Asian food is unit dimensional. People are focusing more on model, which is in the form of a cafe or Bistro format where they will have Sushi, Dimsum, hot foods and everything. But, the kinds of food you get at all these places are almost the same. Focus has to come back to pushing boundaries of techniques and not pushing the comfort factors. One factor I vividly believe in is that you should not push the comfort factor of the guest so much that he doesn’t relate to the food. Having said that you have to push the techniques.
What is your comment on authenticity of the food?
When I went to Bangkok to learn Thai curries four years back, I spent one and half months only understanding green curry. I have documented 127 recipes of green curry and its difficult for me to say which one is authentic. As a chef, the moment I hear authentic, you are already pronouncing it dead. Being a chef it would not excite me and also my diners. Nobody understands the true meaning of authenticity or traditionalism and yet talk about it. There is nothing called authentic in the segment we are working in.