After passing out from SIES College, Mumbai – chef Prakash Chettiyar was looking for a profession where he could follow his creative instincts and passion. Hotel management looked like the best option, hence, he appeared for NCHMT and got placed in IHM CHENNAI as per the rank and his choice of the city. “IHM Chennai (THEN Madras Catering College, was known for the best food production facility and faculty) culture and environment encouraged me to hone my culinary skills – which was just average at that point of time,” shared Chettiyar who managed to channel his passion and energy and that’s how his professional and culinary journey started. Excerpts from the interview:
You have started with global cuisine and lately expanded to Indian cuisine by representing India at global level in an Incredible India campaign at ITB Messe Berlin. How have you seen Indian food growing with time?
Yes, every chef who wants to explore the culinary world has to understand the French cuisine. Therefore, my natural inclination was towards French cuisine – terminology, cooking techniques, plating ideas etc. I continued to pursue that in bakery, Italian, Mexican – but once I was offered my first job (after graduating from OCLD) in Oberoi Grand, it involved Indian Cuisine. Then, I had to naturally reset my culinary sojourn to Indian palates and diversity.
Indian cuisine got far more evolved after the ‘Grand Show’ of our cuisine as part of the Incredible India campaign at ITB MESSE BERLIN. People realized there are far better culinary dimensions than a Butter Chicken, Biryani, Dosa, Idli and Paneer Tikka Masala. We have made progress in terms of educating guests about each of our regional cuisine – but still a long way to go!
Lately, Kolkata is turning into the food capital of India. How will you meet the competition in this fast changing market?
Simply by exploring the best of local talents and ingredients and by keeping my eyes and ears open to see the changing food trends in Kolkata. Also, by offering the best of JW Marriott Kolkata and keep trying the ‘newest trends’, e.g .Fermented foods, Pre set meals, Menu based on Keto /Paleo /High protein / Plant based protein etc.
What are some of the newest trend you are witnessing in the city?
Guests are ready to experiment with lot of new styles and flavours – as a result, you can see a spurt in interest towards Cross Cultural Cuisine ( like Italian –Japanese , French /Nordic, Mexican- SE Asian, Bhutanese – Indian ), Levantine Cuisine, Sea- Cuterie ( Instead of Char –Cuterie like Octopus Salami, Salmon roulade, Swordfish Ham etc. Casual dining seems to be the most popular concept. Most of the hotels are positioning themselves through their F &B outlets.
What will be your responsibility at Marriott Kolkata?
To ensure that it is seen as the best local destination in terms of food and beverage; we aspire to offer the most contemporary style of food packaging in Kolkata.
We have seen that in today’s time luxury dining is not just about food but also overall experience. How have you trained your chefs to make sure the guests get the best experience at your restaurants?
We constantly share our guests’ feedback (in-house, local, foreign, business- corporate, leisure –family) amongst our chefs – we keep pushing ourselves to outdo each other. This simple exercise enables us to understand the varied taste /culture /expectations of the guest.
What is your favorite cuisine to cook? Why?
Asian cuisine is my favourite cuisine. I simply love the varied techniques and ingredients, its versatility. Most significantly, it retains its character of its cuisine and origin.
Going forward what trend you see would rule Indian market?
People will prefer to taste the classic food dishes (which have been passed down from generations ...after generations). The simplicity of dishes coupled with story-telling will remain the winner.