In a five-star hotel, beyond a plaque that reads ‘For Staff Only’, awaits the setting for creating a perfect meal. The activity in a chef’s kitchen is analogous to that of a dexterous factory as cloaked in chaos — amid aromatic fumes and spluttering sounds — chefs churn out a delectable spread. This scene has been recreated on television in many culinary shows, but is kept hidden from hotel guests. However, no more, as top chef’s have opened the doors to their kitchen.
The concept called chef’s table that serves you a glimpse of the kitchen frenzy with a doze of cooking secrets, and a hands-on culinary experience set to a commentary by the chef, has been introduced in a few city hotels recently. "The chef’s table is about experiencing food like you have done never before. The guests get to experience the frenzy inside the kitchen and the jargon that we use. I make all my guests cook. Their eyes glint when they realise how easily they have mastered making jalebis or have baked a wonderful bakarkhani," says executive chef Francis Luzinier of The Lalit. Luzinier has laid out a chef’s table inside his kitchen where guests can be seen rolling out dough and placing it in the tandoor while they learn how to handle unusual kitchenware and prepare an extensive menu featuring nearly thirty items. The chef’s table seats only eight guests and ensures a personalised experience.
Masala Art at the Taj Palace Hotel broadens the concept of chef’s table as chef Rajesh Wadhwa also takes his guests on errands to Khari Baoli in Old Delhi, Azadpur Subzi Mandi and INA market to purchase ingredients such as spices, fish and vegetables. Back in his kitchen, while tossing a perfect phulka into a guest’s plate, he shares a tip: "If you want your phulka to pop up, never flip it unless it is cooked from one side."
His table introduces foodies to the nuances of Indian cuisine, taking them back to home-style cooking. "When was the last time you saw gobhi retain its natural flavour and shape in a subzi served in a hotel? Indian cuisine is not about food smothered in oil and spices," he adds.
Chef’s tables in the Capital
Baluchi, The Lalit: The menu features Mughlai breads such as bakarkhani and gilafi naan, chapli kebabs, regional delicacies, such as Kombdi Cha Rasa (Maharashtrian chicken curry) Kosha Manso (Bengali stir-fried lamb cooked in yogurt).
For dessert, there is Gulab Jamun Flambe and rose petal ice-cream. You can team up your meal with French and Californian wines. Cost: Rs 4,000
Masala Art, The Taj Palace Hotel: You get to cook and relish dishes such as Bhatti ka jheenga,shammi kebab, Mathania mirch ka murgh and khumani ka halwa. Cost: Rs 3,500