Mumbai to get a taste of New York's two-Michelin star Blanca | morefromlifestyle | Hindustan Times
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Mumbai to get a taste of New York's two-Michelin star Blanca

Finding a table at Blanca, a two-Michelin star restaurant in Brooklyn, is tough. But its chef, Alex Leonard, is in town to give Mumbai a taste of its food.

morefromlifestyle Updated: Jul 17, 2015 10:07 IST
Meenakshi Iyer
Chef Alex Leonard at work in Blanca, New York, USA.
Chef Alex Leonard at work in Blanca, New York, USA.

Pete Wells, popular restaurant critic for the New York Times, had to place 40 calls before he could secure a table at Blanca in 2012, the year it opened. The 12-seater restaurant serves 60 diners a week, which explains why Wells found it tough “to do my job”, as he puts it. But for us, it might be easier than that. Its chef de cuisine, Alex Leonard, is in Mumbai, to spend a week at The Table. “I want to give people a sense of the food that interests me — simple, light, yet full of intense flavours,” he says, in an email interview.

Leonard’s family hails from Mexico and has a strong background in local cuisine, which is dominated by meat and fresh produce. His grandmother would often throw large parties in summer and cook for the whole family, while his mother was a master baker. Perhaps, it was this early initiation in food that got him hooked to it. At the age of 16, Leonard started his training at a classic French restaurant, and there has been no looking back since. Leonard’s profile includes a stint at Copenhagen-based eatery Noma (voted the best restaurant in the world) under the acclaimed chef, René Redzepi. He has also worked with chef Daniel Bouloud at his eponymous three-Michelin-star restaurant. “Working with René changed the way I worked and thought as a cook. He is a charismatic person and it's evident in the way he talks about food,” says Leonard. At Noma, Leonard was part of an army of 45 stagiaires (trainee chefs) and 17 cooks.

However, at Blanca (a more minimalistic set-up), he serves 21 courses with the help of his four-member team, which is no mean feat. A regular day includes opening the kitchen at 9am and numerous meetings to decide the menu, which largely depends on the ingredients available in the market. Eating at Blanca can never be repetitive because the menu changes frequently. Similarly, at The Table, Leonard plans to take several trips to the local market (on Wednesday, he visited Crawford) with resident chef Alex Sanchez and rustle up an interesting menu for his dinner on July 18. “It is important to me that people know what they are eating. That shows confidence in the chef,” he says. For those looking to get some quick tips, he will be hosting a workshop at the restaurant. With such a busy schedule, we hope he makes time to visit the Taj Mahal, one of the places on his wish list for India.

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Quick Bytes
Food philosophy: “Have fun with the ingredients.”

Most memorable meal: “On a three-day boat ride in Peru on the Amazon river, the locals would sell the freshest fruits, literally picked right before we ate them.”

Next food capital: “It has to be Peru. The food culture there is very deep and rich.”

Where: The Table, behind Regal Cinema, Colaba

Call: 2282 5000

Register: communications@foodmatters.in

Call: 98339 48363

Price: Rs. 3,500 for a five-course set menu

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Tofu, Fava Beans, Wild Greens and Green Almond