Slurrp Exclusive: Chef-Entrepreneur Gurmehar Sethi On Making Finger Food Fashionable

Chef Gurmehar Sethi, best known for his Thai restaurant 'Ziu' in Delhi and UAE, is back with another splendid restaurant 'Klap' that recently opened in Khan Market, Delhi. The world cuisine Tapas Bar is beginning to become a name to reckon with in the capital already, and chef Sethi is gleaming with pride. Chef Gurmehar, who started as an apprentice in The Oberoi, New Delhi, has rubbed shoulders with the greatest of names in the business and worked in some of the finest kitchens in the world, such as Nobu, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai and Mayfair Hotel, London. Les Roches, Switzerland alum Chef Gurmehar Sethi’s cooking exudes daring originality, making you sit still and take notice. A self-confessed travel freak, Chef Gurmehar journey through many Thai towns and villages are best evidenced in Ziu’s intricate and nuanced fare. We sat down with the chef to talk about his definition of 'finger food', his favourite dining destination in the world and food trends that captured his fancy. Excerpts below: 

Q. Since you are so well-travelled, do you think it is challenging to seek inspiration for cooking now when travel is limited in the post COVID world? 

The pandemic is something that has particularly hit every country. For me, as a chef travel was something which was an added benefit to learn about the culture from where the cuisine originated, and as they say for a chef, every day is a new learning experience. Will keep learning and exploring.

Q. You are one of the youngest chefs/entrepreneurs to have made a mark in the industry so soon. Talk us through some of the challenges.  

Thank you for giving that title. I feel the biggest challenge is to sustain and keep the team motivated around you.

Q. Talk to us about your latest venture Klap. What is it about ‘Finger Food’ that made you start a restaurant dedicated to the same?

"KLAP" Urban bistro by day and gastro bar by night. Klap hopes to contribute a dramatic transformation in the local culinary scene, and ignite a new love for life. ‘Can I give you a meal in a single bite?’ This thought is the constant inspiration for me to discover food grammar that I can play with. I seek to bring together unpredictable ingredients and serendipitous flavors, served up with panache in a world cuisine tapas bar. We look forward to serving you.

Q. If you had just one day to live, which country would you go to and what would be your last meal  

It would be India, as that's where my roots are and the last meal would be a nice home-cooked meal, comprising of simple ingredients with no fuss and lots of childhood memories.

Q. What is your comfort food?

Stir-Fried Morning Glory and Chicken Krapow. Can have it for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. :))

Q. Do you remember the first dish you made that you were proud of?

The first time I tried my hands on making a macaron, and the tedious process of making the macaron shell rise, made me realize that the techniques are the most important part of any cuisine.

Q. A valuable kitchen tip you picked up recently that you’d like to share with us.  

Kitchen sustainability. Rather than throwing leftover peels in the garbage try and reutilize them.

Q. Did you grow up in a foodie family? Do you often cook for your family?

Yes, everybody in my family is a big foodie. But now that cooking and training chefs on the professional front take most of the time, hence cooking for the family is mostly during the celebration of festivities and togetherness.  

Q. An exciting new food trend that caught your eye?  

While veganism and vegetarianism are hardly a “trend,” the number of people turning towards a ‘cruelty-free’ lifestyle is on the rise, which is interesting. Increasing concerns over mental and physical wellbeing, not to mention the environmental impact, have led many to reconsider their meat-centered diets. Many are giving up animal products completely in an effort to live a healthier, more eco-friendly life.  

Q. You have been associated with many restaurants in Delhi and UAE, how would you differentiate between the diners at both places? Or if we were to put it simply UAE or Delhi, the best place to dine at, as per you?

Every city has its own vibe in regards to cuisine and culture. For me, both are finely hospitable in their own way.