Who’s the city’s top chef? Over the next five weeks, we will feature five chefs who are doing exciting things in Delhi kitchens. The American Express Chef of the Year winner will be announced on the night of the HT City Crystals People’s Choice Awards 2010.
Name: Sabyasachi Gorai
Executive Chef, heading Olive restaurants in Delhi, ai and Lap
At what age did you want to be a chef?
I wanted to go to art school. I got through IHM, Kolkata and was in my second year when I realised I wanted to be a chef.
Your favourite cuisine?
Best dish you’ve ever made?
The black cod on stone I pioneered when I opened ai.
The worst dish you’ve made to date?
I experiment only after I have done the research on the dish... misses are rare. I don’t do stunts and like being safe. Perhaps the Maggi I cook at home is considered too watery by my wife.
Whackiest dish you have created?
The mystic salmon at The Olive in Mehrauli. The dish has beautiful cured salmon with salt and spices and is sealed with a glass dome. The dish is then filled with woody smoke using a smoke gun. So when you open the seal, woody smoke comes out of the dish.
Favourite restaurant in the world, and why?
Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Paris, run by an amazing chef doing Neo French cuisine.
Favourite restaurant in Delhi?
Favourite street food in Delhi?
Food Chowk in DLF Mall. It serves all kinds of street food under one roof from your Mumbai-style vada pao to paranthas of Chandni Chowk.
Best thing about being a chef?
It is a lot of hard work but when a customer says “what great food”, it is worth it. I just love the positive energy that customers and guests bring in with them.
Worst thing about being a chef?
Long hours and it is physically challenging.
Most memorable moment as a chef?
When I prepared penne arrabbiata for Amitabh Bachchan, who loves eating it. He told me my pasta reminded him of his favourite pasta in New York.
Chef(s) that have inspired you?
Chef Tetsuya Wakuda, Chef Neil Perry, Chef Pierre Gagnaire, Chef Charlie Trotter, Chef Joël Robuchon.
Best compliment you’ve received?
Anil Ambani came to me when I was working in the DAKC food court in Vashi and in front of five thousand people he hugged me and said, “This man is very close to my heart because he feeds my stomach”.
One thing you’d like to change about your profession?
I would like more dedicated and intelligent people to join the profession and not join it just for the heck of it.
Thoughts on Delhi’s current food scene?
The food scene is evolving and I have great respect for the Delhi diners as they are willing to experiment.
Next big thing on Delhi’s culinary map?
Casual restaurants that’re open day and night.
Plans for the future?
I want to write a book and start a culinary school at Olive. I have already started thinking of named for the school.