Slurrp Exclusive- Chef Abhishek Basu Who Loves Tossing And Turing Local Flavours
- Ayandrali Dutta
Updated : June 13, 2022 04:06 IST
The chef Abhishek's love for vocal for local
Chef Abhishek Basu before taking Mumbai by storm with his culinary skills had has worked with The Park Hotels in New Delhi and Chennai as the Executive Chef, Executive Sous Chef. With more than With more than 20+ years of rich experience in the culinary industry, Abhishek Basu brings to the role his expertise in food & beverage and culinary operations after a long-spanning career in hospitality. Currently as the Executive Chef at JW Marriott Mumbai Juhu, Basu has always worked towards sustainability and local homegrown products and in this while he has also worked with farmers and more. This gave him a recognition by Incredible India - Ministry of Tourism, Government of India as the ambassador to curate a full vegetarian menu in Iceland to celebrate Mahatma Gandhi’s 150 birth anniversary
How comfortable has all the city shift been for you over the years?
I have loved moving cities always. Being from an Army background, adapting to places, people and the weather has been instilled in me from very young. Mumbai has been a wonderful experience. The sea, the great vibes and the energy of the Mumbai people are unbelievable. The eclectic ways of preparing food, the local ingredients, the stories of the street hawkers and even the presentations at the top restaurants in each city are so varied. So much to learn, experience and enjoy!
While you are curating new menu what are those few things that you generally keep in mind?
Home! That’s the first thing that comes to my mind for a festive menu. What make you heart miss home or take you down memory lane? Festivals and family are synonymous. So, if I can make a menu that will touch your heart, I know I have got it right! A new menu in a restaurant is a compilation of interesting food concepts, popular dishes that guests rate the highest on our menu and the season’s must haves! Menu engineering begins months before with intense research on our guest feedback, tastes, suggestions and eating patterns, superfoods, unexplored ingredients and so much more!
Tell us about your experience in Star vs Food 2 along with Janhvi Kapoor. Funny quirky difficult moments.
I must say the team behind the scenes were brilliant! Janhvi Kapoor knows her food and she was so eager to try everything and get it right! Moreover, she comes from a background with diverse food cultures – the best of both Southern cuisine and Punjabi food. We had fun working together.
Did the lockdown give you more time to enhance your skills? Tell about the challenges?
Lockdown threw open whole new challenges. First thing that crossed our mind was how do our guests continue to enjoy our food and our menu! With Marriott Bonvoy on Wheels we were the first movers and shakers, bridging the gap and bringing their all -time favourite right to their doorstep! I spent time reading, learning, reinventing, reimagining and presenting various things that will keep us on the top of the game, and continue to bring smiles to the faces of our patrons.
What special care you took to prepare an all veg menu for Incredible India – Ministry of Tourism, Government of India as the ambassador in Iceland?
Ministry of Tourism was celebrating Mahatma Gandhi’s anniversary in Iceland with a complete vegetarian menu. The highlights of the menu were the traditional vegetarian dishes like ker sangria from Rajasthan, Radhaballabi and cholar daal from Bengal, the dahi Bhalla and chaat selection to name a few. Iceland doesn’t grow its own vegetables so it was flown down from neighbouring countries. But, Indian food was such a delight to the guests. After we wrapped up with the celebrations, the kitchen team shared that they wanted to try Indian Biryani. So, we prepared our specialty Awadhi biryani for them! The menu focused on local regional ingredients, desi ghee, home-made paneer, home ground Indian masalas, roasted garam masala, khoya, kasundi, jhorna ghee, goyna bodi, and the list is long. I even took the matar kachori filling! It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to present the best of India on a plate to a global audience. I’m humbled that I received this chance.
Your USP is working with homegrown fresh ingredients. Does that come as a challenge at times. Tell how what effort you do to drive sustainability at the ground level?
Local and native ingredients continue to find a prominent place in my work and my menus. There are a good number of farmers who grow Indigenous and regional products around India. I work with partner farms from Chikmagalur, Devanahalli -Karnataka, Mukteshwar-Uttarakhand, Baganapalle – Andhra Pradesh to name a very few. Depending on the season’s bounty and menu in play, we reach out to different farmers, around India
As a leader what is that one thing you always tell your kitchen team
Consistency! This is the key. Your work speaks for itself so be mindful of everything you do.