Exploring Food Is An Endless Adventure, Says Chef Vishwanath
Image Credit: Chef Vishwanath Narake speaks about food, hygiene and more

Chef Vishwanath S. Narake is a globe-trotter. With a career spanning across California, Hungary, India, and Dubai, U.A.E., Chef Narake has amassed invaluable experience in upholding the highest culinary standards, maintaining impeccable kitchen hygiene, and leading kitchen staff to excellence. He stands as a culinary virtuoso, currently serving as the Sous Chef at Spices Klub Restaurants in the vibrant culinary landscape of California. We caught up with him and got him to talk about Desi food, kitchen disasters and his comfort food.

From Budapest to Mumbai to California – how has your experience been as a globe-trotting Chef?

The journey from Budapest to Mumbai to California was truly exhilarating. From savouring Hungarian delicacies to enjoying the flavours of Amchi Mumbai, indulging in Vada Pav, and relishing a classic burger in California, one thing became abundantly clear throughout this voyage: the exploration of food is an endless adventure.

There is a growing interest in Indian cuisine across the world, beyond the usual butter chicken. How do you see this trend and what are the dishes in demand now?

So the food does not stop only at butter chicken but its lot more than that and as we can see people are now looking for fusion food with gastronomy experience. Apart from butter chicken there are kebab, lamb chops, lamb shank and many more in good demand.

What is the food that you have grown up eating and what is cooked in your household now? Any similarities and differences?

I grew up enjoying simple foods like dal, rice, and vegetables, occasionally indulging in local street foods like Pav Bhaji and Vada Pav. However, it's fascinating how these same street foods have undergone a modern transformation. Pav Bhaji has turned into a fondue, Papadi Chaat into a gastronomic experience, and even yogurt has been transformed into spheres.

As much as taste and presentation of food is important, health and hygiene are also crucial. While such reputable restaurants that you have and continue to work with would take full care of it, how do you, as a Chef, ensure hygiene in kitchens with so many people working together?

Indeed, kitchen hygiene is of utmost importance, and we are diligent in ensuring that everyone adheres to these standards. We have established specific procedures to maintain a high level of hygiene. These procedures encompass wearing clean uniforms, maintaining impeccable personal hygiene, implementing the first-in-first-out method, and rigorously following a "clean as you go" approach.

How do you think social media, with all its viral food trends, is influencing cooking in the current digital world?

I agree that in today's world, social media plays a pivotal role. With nearly everyone using smartphones, it has become incredibly convenient to share recipes and rediscover forgotten ones with a simple click. Whether it's a small local restaurant or a large-scale establishment, social media offers a powerful platform to promote and share event details, recipes, and promotions. It's a tool that can benefit restaurants of all sizes.

Any kitchen experiment anecdote you would want to share that did not go as per plan and ended up becoming a disaster?

While I haven't personally encountered major disasters, there have been instances where a planned event for 100 guests unexpectedly grew to 150. Fortunately, we were prepared with a backup plan to handle such situations without compromising the quality of our food. I vividly recall the day we opened a new restaurant, and our promotional efforts were so successful that despite being a 90-seat restaurant, nearly 250 people showed up. It was challenging, but we managed to accommodate everyone and serve them promptly. The key takeaway is that challenges are a part of the restaurant business, and how you handle and manage them makes all the difference.

What are cuisines that you like to cook other than Indian? Some of your favourite dishes from those cuisines?

Apart from Indian cuisine, I enjoy preparing Italian, continental, and Arabic dishes. Among my favorites are pizza, pasta, shawarma, and kebabs.

What is comfort food for you? What do you personally enjoy eating after a long, hard day at work?

Honestly, my comfort food is homemade food. After being exposed to large quantities of food, I often prefer simple dal chawal.