Chef Gagandeep On Innovations That He Brings To The Table
Image Credit: Chef Gagandeep Singh Sawhney

Chef Gagandeep Singh Sawhney, the Delhi boy who has been shaping the culinary experiences at luxury hotels and Michelin-starred restaurants and is currently Executive Chef at Shangri-La Eros New Delhi, knew from an very early age that all he wanted to become was a chef . With his passion for food and innovative experiences in many different cuisines, he aims to focus on continuously improving guests’ dining experiences. He is a veteran of traditional, regional and progressive Italian and Asian cuisines.

Talking about the palate of Delhi people what has been your observation.

Delhiites are always keen on trying new innovative dishes, which gives opportunities to chefs to push the borders. Owing to Delhi’s diversity, it has lot to offer in terms of food, so people are quite fond of various cuisines. They prefer their convenient food and personal favourites but also loves to experiment with different cuisines. The wholesome meals in the hotel’s award-winning restaurants, Sorrento and Shang Palace are very popular; families prefer to indulge in the multi-cuisine buffet offerings at Tamra and Grappa is a weekend destination for nightlife lovers. We have established the restaurants as one of the most sought after food and beverage destinations in the capital city.

Tell us something about your innovative experiences that you have brought to the table at Shangri-La Eros?

I always feel privileged that I was part of the food and beverage refurbishment in 2015. During my second stint, I am focussing on continuously improving guests’ dining experiences through impeccable service and by maintaining the highest quality of food standards. I look forward to elevating the food; creating engaging by-the-table dishes and re-imagine dining experiences at the hotel. We conceptualise a menu full of authentic and modern Italian dishes at the award-winning Italian restaurant, Sorrento. The menu features an array of delicacies such as an Italian Charcuterie board, Sorrento’s Mozzarella Bar, Caesar Salad on Wheels. I have also introduced homemade Lobster Chittara finished tableside from Sorrento’s homemade pasta factory. The Classic Neapolitan Pizza at Sorrento is made with Biga dough and flavoured with house-made San Marzano Sauce.  Biga is a type of pre-fermentation used for making breads and Pizza.  This makes the Pizza lighter, softer and more flavourful. With the introduction of the new family-style sharing platters, diners can now enjoy delicious rustic Italian dishes with friends and family.  The ‘Da Condividere’ menu features roasted Spring Chicken, braised Lamb Shank and a grilled seafood platter. Smoked focaccia on the table is getting very popular amongst our guests. I have also revamped the buffet menu at the International cuisine restaurant Tamra and introduced Tokyo Thursdays offering regional Japanese flavours and global fare featuring Sushi bar, Yakitori, Live Teppanyaki and more. Shang Palace has introduced Lobster Fridays where guests can savour lobster delicacies for dinner. The special menu offers lobster delicacies such as Shandong Style Lobster Soup, BBQ Her Crusted Lobster, Whole Lobster steamed with Black Beans and more. We have also launched the first night brunch in the city, Moonlight Brunch at Grappa offering an Italian feast from Sorrento and premium pours from Grappa.

What was that one driving factor behind you becoming a chef?

I was very passionate about the culinary arts from an early age and knew there was nothing I wanted more than to become a chef. I love to travel across the globe and this profession allows me to learn new cuisines and experience new cultures. I also firmly believe that food travel awakens your senses and for me, food becomes part of my travel.

What trick and brainstorming goes when it comes to designing a new flavour or a menu?

We consider various factors before we plan the new menu and seasonal flavours. It is important to understand the guest palate, star dishes, best ingredients availability throughout the year, flavours matching the DNA of the restaurant, a right mix of innovative and authentic dishes in the menu. I also make sure that there should be an aesthetic combination of dishes in terms of colour, texture, flavour and temperature.

What is your idea of comfort food? Does it see any kind representation on any of the menu?

Comfort food makes the guests happy and gives a nostalgic feeling. The trend of comfort food is getting very popular with guests, as it is satisfying for guests to see their favourite dishes on the menu. Salad with Grilled Fish, Biryani, Club Sandwich and Khow Suey are a few of the comfort dishes that are very popular with the guests.

What according to you is that one food trend that’s gonna rule 2022?

Well-being cuisine will be a big trend in the coming year, which includes plant-based cuisine, potato milk, and so on, It is also going to be important to enhance guest experiences by better catering to their dietary needs and preferences. The year will also witness a strong, growing trend of certified health and wellness offerings in food and beverage. Local, seasonal and organic products should be selected where possible and the cooking method selected should retain the nutritional value of the dish. Wellness cuisine offers vibrant, fresh and tasty culinary options to enable guests to eat well and stay well.