Michelin Star Chef Daniel Lopez is in India with a mission: To savour the best of kebabs and biryanis, feature authentic Spanish cuisine and conduct master classes to share some of his signature recipes.
"Every meal for me is an exam," Lopez said, as guests at West View, ITC Maurya, got a taste his seven-course degustation menu -- sampling small portions of a host of carefully-selected recipes, with matching wines, in one sitting.
"The fresh quotient is very appealing to Indians. Most of the food is sourced from the local market. That's my signature too," Lopez said told IANS, featuring his delights, that included three tapas, starters, fish, meat and, of course, the dessert.
"The pre-plated menu we served at West View was great hit among gourmands. We plan to get more such Michelin Star chefs to our restaurants," said Manisha Bhasin, senior executive chef at ITC Maurya.
It is not common for Michelin Star chefs to cook primarily for an Indian client. But Chef Lopez not only did that and enjoyed the same during the Fine Food Exposition at Pragati Maidan last weekend, but also conducted classes for select chefs.
He also got a taste of India.
"I love Indian cuisine. I love your biryanis and kakori kebabs. These have left a deep impression," he said, adding his agenda included a visit to local spice market and to see the potential for an Indo-Spanish degustation menu.
"For us, there is a great emphasis on visual impact -- colours, flavours, the smell, texture. This is yet to catch up in India," said Lopez, whose 35-cover restaurant Kokotxa in San Sebastian since 2002 got a Michelin Star in 2007.
He himself hails from San Sebastien, close to the French border, North of Spain, that boasts 16 Michelin Stars. With a population of just 185,000 people, this city has one of the highest concentrations of Michelin Stars.
Chef Lopez also believes much in letting his clients feast on what is called Kilometre Zero cuisine, which is becoming popular globally, notably in Italy, since it leaves little carbon footprint.
In this type of cuisine, thanks to increasing population of locavores, the idea is to keep the environment clean by sourcing produce from within a small region, and just about anything that goes into a dish is grown nearby.
Encouraged by the response Lopez received here, ITC Maurya plans to get more top chefs to India to share their culinary skills. There also can be another excitement in store as well.
Thus far, restaurants in India are not featured in the famous Michelin Guides. But that could change once the French company opens its first India unit near Chennai, sometime around November next year.