It's time for Delhi to have its very own Jamie Oliver, Gordon Ramsay or Heston Blumenthal - chefs whose names are synonymous with the restaurants they run. They aren't merely the people inside the kitchen; they're the heart and soul of the restaurant and everything there carries their unique signature.
While the capital has witnessed a culinary revolution in recent years, the lack of chef-driven or chef-owned restaurants still stands out like a sore thumb. Only a handful of exceptions come to mind, such as Ritu Dalmia's Diva and Satish Warrier and Kiran Bhushi's Gunpowder.
What makes chef-driven restaurants special? "The food philosophy and the menu come from the same person, so you see creativity at its best here," explains Mayank Tiwari, executive sous chef, Smoke House Grill. Ritu Dalmia, chef and co-owner, Diva, agrees. "The product turns out to be far superior than one in which the chef is not involved in the menu planning," she says, adding,
"It also acts like a security blanket, because we all like to know who the person behind the product is." And despite several deterrents (high rental costs, licenses, etc), the mood is upbeat. "The paradigm shift has already begun," believes Tiwari. "I think Delhi would be overwhelmed by good quality chef-owned restaurants very soon...We have the capability of producing a Michelin star chef."