A celebration of forgotten ingredients and the rich legacy of creative cuisine in India, Culinary Stories by ITC Hotels will be hosted in Chennai and Kolkata over the next two weekends.
As with most things Indian, cuisine across the sub-continent has a rich history. Given the diversity of cultures and the myriad influences that have swept the country across millennia, many ingredients, culinary techniques and even dishes have become lost to us, somewhere while being passed down generations. Culinary Stories at ITC Hotels is a celebration of these forgotten cuisine concepts. After hosting a series of collaborative dinners with Chef Andoni Luis Aduriz of the 2 Michelin star awarded Mugaritz restaurants from Basque Country in Spain and Chef Gaggan Anand of the 2 Michelin starred restaurant Gaggan, ITC Hotels has partnered with Chef Prateek Sadhu.
Chef Prateek Sadhu, a double gold medallist from the Culinary Institute of America, winner of the most innovative chef of the year 2016 award from the Western Culinary Association of India, and with stints at some of the world’s most accomplished restaurants including The French Laundry, Boubon Steak, Le Bernadin and Noma, is currently on a three-city culinary tour with ITC Hotels, at ITC Gardenia in Bengaluru, ITC Grand Chola in Chennai and ITC Royal Bengal, Kolkata.
We caught up with the chef to gain an insight into the core concept behind Culinary Stories.
TD: Tell us a bit about how you’re designing the menu for Culinary Stories. What are the cuisine concepts behind it?
PS: This menu is a big part of our five-year anniversary, and we’ve tried to design it in a way that celebrates, at its heart, Indian produce. That’s been our ethos since we opened the restaurant and have been building on it ever since, slowly incorporating new elements from our R&D over the years. This menu is a culmination of the past five years; conceptually, it draws on various influences, both regional and international, in terms of flavour profiles, techniques and methods, bringing them together under the lens of how we view modern Indian cuisine.
TD: Is the menu at the different locations going to be different?
PS: The core of the menu will remain the same, but each city will see a few differences based on regional specialities and influences.
TD: What kind of local influences or inspirations are involved in your process?
PS: I think I’m most inspired by travel and exploring new foods. This menu pulls influences from different parts of the country – Meghalaya, Kashmir, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa – in different ways; some are cooking techniques, some are pickling processes, and some are very particular flavours or ingredients, for example. We research and explore those influences, and then experiment with how we can tie them into one another — how can we draw ties between two regions or cultures? How well do they play off one another? Where do their similarities lie? We cook our way through these questions, and when successful, you’ll find equal parts Bengal, Maharashtra, and Kashmir on your plate.
While the Bengaluru leg of the tour was met with resounding response from diners, ITC Grand Chola in Chennai will host the special event on August 27 and 28, while the one at ITC Royal Bengal, Kolkata will be held on September 3 and 4.