Chef Vicky Ratnani On His Passion For Burgers, Cooking Techniques And More
Image Credit: Chef Vicky Ratnani, The chef is well-known for his international cooking techniques in Indian food.

The Gastronaut, as the world knows him, Chef Vicky Ratnani has been globally recognized face from the Indian culinary industry. Behind the tough guy image and the perfectionist that he is, lies a passionate food lover who still finds solace in his mother’s homemade mutton biryani, whose memories still make him nostalgic. With innovative dishes and a unique style of cooking with an international touch, you might be surprised to know that he is a true desi at heart who loves his Indian cuisine the most. Very clear and strong-headed about his life goals, he completed is education in hotel management and went on to become one of the most celebrated chefs of the country, in India and abroad. 

While Vicky The Gastronaut may have added several feathers to his cap and cooked for a plethora of Indian and global personalities like Shahrukh Khan, Salman Khan as well as Nelson Mandela and the Queen, it will be interesting when you find out who rules the home kitchen. A humble personality with a zeal for learning, travelling, eating and cooking, Chef Vicky Ratnani goes all out with us in this exclusive chat with Slurrp. Excerpts:

Q1. Your Eureka moment when you knew that you wanted to be a chef? 

In college, when the first time I was cooking from an old Italian book and when I made fresh pasta by hand and made the best lasagna ever, that was the moment. Moreover, my chef and guru at the same time said, “You know what that’s the true mark of a chef in making”. So I think that was my Eureka moment. 

Q2. Tell us more about the story behind being called The Gastronaut? 

So the Gastronaut came to me because, like an astronaut, who goes into space and travels and sees the whole world from above, the gastronaut, as gastronomy is the study of food, like me travels with a free mind and is an explorer. That’s how the term, Vicky The Gastronaut stuck with me. I went on to apply this name to my series that I shot in Peru and then in Australia and in Thailand. That’s how everyone came to love Vicky The Gastronaut, who is always travelling and always learning. 

Q3. Did you take any professional training in the culinary field?

I went to IHM, Mumbai where I studied hotel management and catering technology. After this, I went abroad for work. 

Q4. You’ve cooked for some top personalities like Nelson Mandela & Queen Elizabeth. How has that experience evolved you as a chef? 

I think cooking for personalities does not evolve you as a chef. Cooking for all kinds of people of different nationalities, age, status and other demographics actually develops you as a versatile chef. People who can understand peoples’ needs and tastes and tailor made or make food for them which is very suitable. It comes with experience, it comes with cooking different kinds of food and the places where you cook the food. I think all of this comprises of the process. 

Q5. Any favourite dishes/eating habits of these famous people that you still remember? 

Nelson Mandela loved his spicy Asian dishes. I have cooked for a lot of celebrated people in India as well. Right from the good old days of Salman Khan to Sanjay Dutt who loved eating grilled meat which wasn’t very spicy. Then there’s Hrithik Roshan who loves his healthy grilled fish and Farhan Akhtar who is also a food lover, particularly meat lover. The King Khan of Bollywood, Shahrukh Khan is a big time Indian food enthusiast. These are what I can recall right now. There are also industrialists that I’ve cooked for, like Harsh Goenka who loves innovative gourmet vegetarian Indian food. He loves experimental food and I still remember there shouldn’t be any fruits in his food. 

Q6. How has your signature style helped you make a mark in the industry? 

My signature style is innovation and colourful textures on the plate. So I think when people really see my dishes, they see that they are presented in an innovative and cool way and they can easily spot that it’s a Vicky Ratnani dish. Moreover, my food will have a very international look to it. It is going to have some international techniques but there will always be some sustainable, seasonal, local ingredients as well.

Source: Chef Vicky Ratnani

I think however, big or popular a chef you are to the outside world, it is the wife who is the boss of the house and the house kitchen. 

Q15. Future prospects! Any interesting things that we should keep an eye for? 

Well, it would definitely be Speak Burgers by Vicky Ratnani and travelling more. I am also doing a lot of tasting menus and culinary for Bira. They are coming up with taprooms across the country. I am doing high-end food for cinemas like INOX Insignia pure vegetarian food. Some more shows on television and producing my own content on Instagram. 

Q16. Favourite Cuisine & Favourite dish.

Favourite cuisine would be Indian. Favourite dish very hard to say but I would like a very, very good mutton biryani (lamb biryani).

Q17. If given 15 minutes, what do you think you could cook for us right now? 

I think if you have your ingredients organized, you can cook up a storm but if I had right now, I think I could do a fantastic pasta with wild mushrooms, chicken, fresh herbs and truffle oil. Or I could a really nice grilled chicken breast or steamed fish with fantastic vegetables and a beautiful sauce. 

Q18. If not a chef, then what? 

If not a chef, then I think I would be a travelling food photographer or a food filmmaker. Or maybe, a DJ.