Chef Atul Kochhar was one of the first Indian chef to have got Michelin-star not just once but twice for his restaurants Tamarind and Benares. Atul migrated to United Kingdom in 1994 and it was only twenty years later that he came back to India opening his restaurants NRI- Not Really Indian and LIMA in BKC Mumbai. But unfortunately, he has to close his both restaurants. But destiny has something planned for him by bringing him back to India. Kochhar together with seasoned restaurateur Vishal Anand of Moonshine Food ventures that owns Farzi Café in Aerocity, Pa Paya and Café Staywoke in Gurgaon has introduced Asia’s tallest bar to the foodie circuit of Gurgaon. “Food choices of Delhi-NCR people have evolved with years now. We have noticed a wide shift in the palate of people. I along with my team have curated a menu which has something for everyone with some fantastic flavours from across India,” shared Kochhar who was not sure about Delhi market when I spoke to him almost four years back. Read, what Vishal, Atul has to say on this venture:
What’s the whole ‘Saga’ behind saga?
AK: Saga is a Modern Indian fun dining outlet with its deep roots in the Indian food culture and hospitality. Its food is all about the cuisines of India. The recipes are inspired from different regions and flavors that have crossed the boundaries of the country and made their space in a more global space. We also take inspirations from what is happening around us and reflect the same emotion through our food. At Saga we believe that food is a journey that one takes and we would like to be a part of that journey with you. Saga also represents the stories that gravitate around the food, which helped the dishes to make their emotional connection with people around the world.
VA: Saga is an amalgamation of grand ambiance, handcrafted food menu by Chef AtulKochhar, one of the tallest bar displays in the worldwith bespoke beverage menu options along with one of the biggest performance stage in any restaurant in the country. The stage is supported by one of the most vibrant sound system and lighting making it a perfect place for experiential fun dining. Saga is a representation of the rich Indian culture and warmth.
Your restaurants are known for celebrating life, culture of India, its food. How much time have you spent working on this restaurant, going back to roots and getting the perfect finish?
We have been doing research on our food menu from last one year and during COVID period too we were trying out on various delicacies at home. While I was in London, I read a lot on various local foods available in India. My Team has skillfully intertwined the magic of Indian local cuisines with the sophistication of modern western culinary techniques.
Vishal, we see that you are already running a few successful restaurants like Farzi and Café Staywoke. How are you going to create a new food story with this restaurant as people now are more conscious when they eat out, it’s not just food but an overall experience they are looking for?
While Farzi’s design concept is an ode to the Aviation industry because it is located in Aerocity and the food is progressive Indian cuisine, on the other hand Cafe Staywoke has a vibrant design concept which serves global comfort food. Saga is very different from both of them; the experience is a marriage of French and Spanish Architectural inspiration, serving Indian food that has a mix of regional and hidden recipes reflecting the heritage and history of our country.
Tell us something about your partnership.
I have partnered with Mr. Vishal Anand to open Saga. To have someone like Vishal, who is ground zero and knows how the hospitality industry works in India is dream for any chef entrepreneur. I am looking for a long – happy & fulfilling partnership for us.
Involvement of five senses
The experience at Saga starts from the point where the guest enters the vicinity, to satisfy your eyes the grandness of Saga is no less than a never seen before space, the food at Saga is something your palate will always crave for more, the smell of the fresh ingredients will remind you of authentic and indigenous Indian flavors. The music and the experience of sound at Saga will leave you mesmerized while the cocktails that have been made with infused spices will be a never ending experience for our guests.
Learning is a lifetime process
We are in an ever-evolving space. We would have to keep redefining our work spaces to keep ourselves connected and related to the world. Saga would be a truly a fun dining space with fantastic ambiance, music, food & service.
Vishal, it is believed that running a fine dining restaurant is not everyone’s cup of tea. What are some of the elements you have focused on while making sure that it stands tall in a fast evolving market?
Absolutely right! So one thing that I have learned is that, the devil is in the detail, I always try and say this to all my team and associates that the difference between a good place and great place is in the last few miles, and not the first few hygiene checks. At Saga we have carefully chosen each and every elements used, be it the story around our menu, be it our food preparations, our vibrant concoctions and even our music, everything well thought and crafted.
What’s your expansion plan?
In 2021 we have two more projects in the pipeline in Delhi/ NCR while we are also exploring doing the next Saga in London.