Nimish Bhatia a chef of renommée mondiale who believes that out-of-the-box thinking must also lead to out-of-the box actions, started the Webinar with the theme - All About Progressive Cuisine with a brief on the evolution of mankind right from the early stages wherein the only source of survival was food and water. Being a core necessity, the humans have, over the past several centuries, done their best to change what they eat and also the way in which they eat. This biological necessity slowly graduated itself into a fine, minute and indeed a microscopic, specialized gastronomical activity, which down in the pages of history, has evolved as an art.
“All dishes are foods but all foods are not dishes”, claims chef Bhatia, supporting the fact that a tremendous amount of upgradation is required before food graduates into a dish. “Over the years, People have become more discerning and judicious and, eating out, which used to be but a ceremonious activity earlier, has now become almost a regular habit. Every dish deserves to have a story behind it, clearly depicting how it evolved and the transformations it has gone through over years of working over it.”
Conforming strictly to the doctrine that the human beings’ biological tolerance with regard to the intake of food has undergone a phenomenal change, we as professionals must take a step ahead, innovate and try to modify our dishes, even before the guest has expected it to be value-added. Presenting the same dish with a bit of physical and aromatic change, enhancing thereby its level of acceptability is what progressive cuisine is all about. It is like presenting on the table of the guest the same dish, with the same name, but in a new avatar. Incidentally, the term Progressive Cuisine is coined by nobody else other than Chef Nimish Bhatia himself.
Should you, in your own ingenuity, wish to add pumpkin gravy to the existing dish of butter chicken, go ahead, provided you give it a totally name as ‘Butter Chicken’ has become a generic name and the guest, while ordering it, expects a certain pre-defined look and taste.
Chef Bhatia has had the fortune of working in hotels, restaurants, food courts, theme kitchens, airlines and hospitals
This is what has helped him gain a valuable, overall experience as he got to perform different functions. If you are destined to fly, you wouldn’t need any crutches, he said out of his sheer sagacity.
Whereas a chartered accountant, a doctor and an engineer continue to remain what they are known as throughout their lives, a chef cannot remain a chef in the entire duration of his career. It is innovation, invention, creation, development and advancement that will help him continue to wear the tag of a CHEF, otherwise, it is quite possible that he might have to perform the role of a Chef de Partie or a Sous Chef.
In the managers’ meeting one day the Chef said, “Let us introduce Thandé Kababs in our menus.” Just short of being laughed at, everybody expressed surprise and dismay since the universal acceptance of a kabab lied only in its being hot and juicy. It wasn’t only after a formal food-trial that Thandé Kabab became the chef’s signature dish, which is a reconstructed chilled melon samosa made fancier and cooler with hibiscus dust and served with a smear of Nimbu Pickle. The inspiration to create this came from the flavorful cold cuts, red meat, poultry and seafood available in Europe – which has now come to India in a different avatar.
The world is changing rapidly – a good chef must therefore be enterprising enough to see with his own eyes and perceive what is happening all over the world – this will help him innovate and develop himself. “I have done a research on as many as 39 Indian cuisines” says the chef proudly. Gastronomy is the only world in which you can practice madness – and that is a shorter name of out-of-the-box thinking,” says the Chef with a smile.
“Food is multi-dimensional. Not only should it look good, it should have a clear aroma, fine texture, super taste, should connect to the various senses and, ultimately, should give to the customer the real experience for which he came to your restaurant”
Talking about molecular gastronomy, Bhatia said that it wasn’t a cuisine but only a cooking style – which presents dishes in a different way, meaning thereby, that it cannot be a type of food that one can easily adopt in his daily lifestyle.
In these days of pandemic wherein service establishments are struggling to be afloat, they have to think of ways and means to conduct business in the non-traditional ways. The economy has to co-survive and co-exist. Any step taken towards generating extra revenues would be welcomed as it will entail a lot of learning. The home-deliveries and take-away dishes are some measures that even the biggest players in hospitality have got down to, but they wouldn’t be able to do much without maintaining the highest level of hygiene, sanitation and cleanliness, which is the need of the hour.
Chef Bhatia, upon being requested to comment on the inclination of chefs wanting to perform roles of food and beverage directors or even that of general managers observed that this trait amongst chefs, especially the younger, restless ones, is coming up as a trend, in which he saw no harm. Just like my cuisine, everything should be allowed to Progress…