Chef Vikram Simha On Taking Indian Cuisine For A Glocal Appeal
Image Credit: Chef Vikram Simha Akula

At 20, when most of his counterparts were all about revelry and living a carefree youth, he was already into his dream job. In July 1992, he began his career with ITC Hotels and was instrumental in establishing Peshawri eateries in the ITC Kakatiya in Hyderabad and Mumbai, Calcutta, and Jaipur. During his tenure with this brand, he travelled worldwide as an ambassador to promote Indian cuisine. As years passed, he created his niche and worked with several coveted chains of eateries and hotels. There came a phase when he began to be known as the chef who was a pro at launching numerous restaurants. 

He received "The Young Chef of the Year 2003" from the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Association of India, "IFCA Smart Chef 2012," and "Best Chef of Andhra Pradesh 2013." He launched Indiblaze, a new-age restaurant that gave Hyderabad a first-of-its-kind experience. Currently, he works as a consultant chef and has several other ventures. He is also the Brand Chef, Art of Dum. Meet Chef Vikram Simha Akula, Executive Chef, Glocal Junction, Hyderabad. He comes across as a seasoned culinarian with over three decades of hands-on experience in the F& B industry. 

With an intense love for Indian cuisine, he has been a flagbearer of it pan India and overseas. In an exclusive interview he shared his plans, passion, observation and views on food scene


Q. What inspired you to choose a career in the F& B industry?

Born in a family where men would cook for pleasure and were fond of good grub, I developed my passion for food. We used to discuss lunch over breakfast and dinner over lunch. Such influence was bound to inspire me to build my career in the F&B industry.

 Q. What was the turning point in your career? 

Not bragging, but I stood first in all three years of the catering college. Meanwhile, I was fortunate to have a mentor faculty who acknowledged my talent and encouraged me to participate in the "All India Students Chefs Competition" in 1992. I did and secured the first rank in the contest. That was the turning point in my career, and I knew there was no looking back now. 

Q. What is your core expertise?

It is creating concepts for new restaurants and mentoring chefs. Using technology to the best and reducing skill dependency is the need of the hour for professional chefs like us. I work a lot in these areas.

Q. Which cuisine do you like the most to cook? And why?

My forte is Indian cuisine, and I enjoy cooking native dishes. As Indians, we all have a nudge for it. I have done numerous Indian food promotions abroad in my early years, and it encouraged me further.

Q. What kind of research do you need to do to serve something authentic?

Travelling, exploring and experimenting are the three main things that work around to present something original. But some of the authentic recipes are still preserved in traditional households and by older generations. I don't like surface-level knowledge and always prefer to dive deep. That's why I visit friends/chefs from different communities and learn about their native food. 

However, to make the modern versions, you need to adapt to recipes with the professional cooking process for a better result. 

Q. How did Glocal happen to you?

Glocal is a restaurant which was designed as a bar with modern elements. After the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the F& B witnessed a huge dip. But during the revival phase, there was a demand for restaurants which serve buffets for lunch and dinner and also have an attached bar. We choose to start a buffet with global cuisine.

Q. As the Executive Chef, what innovative and fresh items have you brought to the menu? 

We brought new concepts and a wide-reaching menu that can satisfy everyone's cravings. We have a daily menu, and the buffet has plenty of live stations. Not to miss the portioned desserts and authentic biryani preparations. 

Delicious dessert, Image Source: Glocal junction, Kondapur

Q. What kind of guests does the eatery target?

Glocal is a family restaurant, and being strategically located surrounded by IT offices, it also attracts many corporates with social meet-ups. Weekends get alive with a busy dance floor and attached bar. From social and intimate to after-office gatherings, frequent this place. 

Q. A few must-try signature dishes from the menu?

Fried wings with cajun spices are very popular. A few Hyderabadi dishes are also sought after. One of them is authentic Maraq (mutton stew), a good soup on a cold winter evening. 

Q. What is your observation on the rise in liking traditional Telugu dishes?

In Hyderabad, there is a visible surge in demand and inclination towards local Telugu dishes. Although our buffet does not have full-fledged Telugu culinary fares, starters are always on the menu. The secret lies in putting in the right combination of accompaniments. 

Q. Is there any dish of Telugu cuisine you want to revive?

In my opinion, Telugu dishes typically work with the combination. I have plans to introduce traditional culinary fares of this region, such as Mutton kheema balls with Ragi Sangati, Jonna Rottalu with Ulli Karam, etc. and put them on the menu. 

 Q. What is your take on fusion food?

Cooorgi Murgi Dry with Appam Waffle, Image Source:  glocaljunctionhyderabad

Fusion food is an amalgamation of two cuisines. Though our buffet mainly contains traditional dishes, the live stations showcase fusion foods. One has some interesting tweaks of flavours, such as chicken tikka quesadillas, fruit pani puri,  cooorgi murgi dry with appam waffle etc.

 Q. How do you foresee the food scene of Hyderabad?

There is an explosion of native Telugu food. Many restaurants entered the market, but the current trend is more specific cuisines serving hyper-local grubs. Likewise, value-based restaurants with quick service are gaining popularity.

Q. Your future plans?

Foodlink is opening more restaurants in the Indian fine dining segment. I am working on new concepts for the international expansion of India Bistro, which is an Indian fine-dining restaurant.