On the occasion of Thai Pavilion being awarded the Thai SELECT certification by the Thai government, we speak to Executive Chef Uddipan Chakravarthy about the legendary restaurant
Thai Pavilion at the President, Mumbai – IHCL SeleQtions is the first Thai restaurant in India. Recently, the legendary restaurant and its branch at Taj City Centre, Gurugram were recognised by the Thai Consulate for their authentic Thai food by being awarded a Thai SELECT certification which affirms the brand’s commitment to offering original Thai cuisine to its patrons.
Thai SELECT is a certification awarded by the Ministry of Commerce, Royal Thai Government to guarantee the authentic taste of Thai food products and Thai restaurants in Thailand and overseas. Under a meticulously defined and transparent assessment criteria, the Thai SELECT certification by the Department of International Trade Promotion certifies not only the food but also the hospitality and the ambience of the restaurant.
A culinary landmark for gourmands since the 1990s, Thai Pavilion in Mumbai was launched and nurtured by Chef Ananda Solomon and has been adored by generations of diners for its well-balanced, sophisticated flavours and extensive menu of Thai dishes.
As Executive Chef at President, Mumbai – IHCl SeleQtions, Chef Uddipan Chakravarthy is now in charge of Thai Pavilion. He treads a fine line between tradition and innovation, experimenting with new flavours but retaining simplicity at the core of every dish he creates. With over 26 years of culinary experience, Chef Uddipan has spearheaded the food and beverage concepts at Trattoria, Thai Pavilion and The Konkan Café at the President, Mumbai and Kabab-e-Bahar at Taj Banjara, Hyderabad. Chef Uddipan belongs to a new generation of Indian chefs whose food philosophy lies in building around quality ingredients, drawing inspiration from the seasons and presenting the food aesthetically. He is inspired by his travels, guest feedback and India’s regional cuisines to constantly create new dishes.
We spoke to Chef Uddipan on the occasion of Thai Pavilion getting the Thai SELECT certificate of authenticity. Excerpts:
How does it feel to have received the Thai SELECT certification from the Thai Embassy?
Thai Pavilion is the country’s first and unarguably the best-loved Thai restaurant brand and we are truly humbled and excited to have received this recognition. This certificate is a testament to our ability to expertly craft and serve authentic Thai food every time to our discerning guests.
What according to you is the perception of Thai food in India?
Thai food holds the badge of being one of the most unique and well-known cuisines of Southeast Asia. As evidence we see guests frequenting the restaurant often. Thai food is popular in India for striking that perfect balance of all the flavours in the combination of sweet, salty, spicy, bitter and sour. In India, Thai food has a substantial fan base as the ingredients are well-known and suit the Indian palate. Supermarkets have also started stacking Thai pastes and gravies on their shelves and this only indicates the demand and growing popularity of Thai cuisine in India.
Thai Pavilion is the first Thai restaurant in India, around since the 1990s. What is the secret to your enduring success?
Keeping up with the times and trends, we have evolved and have kept pace with market demand. Over the last three decades, we’ve seen a rise in the popularity of Thai food and our loyal patrons visiting us often. It is our strong and spicy core that has tastebuds running towards the authentic Thai food that we serve at Thai Pavilion.
What is the food philosophy of Thai Pavilion? How experimental are you?
Our culinary offerings at the Thai Pavilion have been known far and wide with the diversity of our visiting guests. The best of ingredients are sourced from the right place to ensure that our guests savour some of the finest and most authentic Thai cuisine at the iconic Thai Pavilion. The consistency of its cuisine and beauty of its décor and ambience are what make Thai Pavilion such a royal classic.
Our philosophy is to stay ahead of the curve and experiment till the core food philosophy is not tampered with and is relevant to what we have to offer. Over the last 26 years in the kitchen, I have learned that it is easy to experiment and create new things, but it’s challenging to keep the food simple and consistent.
What are some of your iconic and most popular dishes?
Thai food with its perfect balance of sweet, sour and spicy is an excellent choice to indulge the palate. The flavourful spicy stir-fried water chestnut with cashew nuts is an all-time favourite. If you wish to indulge in a comforting dish then the soulful green curry is packed with aromatics like lemongrass and kaffir leaves and is also very popular. Other favourites are Thai coriander chicken, duck liver with sea asparagus, crispy John Dory with Thai basil.
How often do you revise the menu at Thai Pavilion?
Thai Pavilion is well regarded for introducing authentic Thai cuisine to India. We are extremely proud of the legacy that the restaurant bears. With the motto of serving authentic Thai food each time, we visit the menu once a year, thus ensuring we are ahead of the curve. Of course, the core food philosophy of not doing too much with the food, but keeping it simple, remains.
Any new or standout dishes you have introduced at the Thai Pavilion?
Our recently introduced sweet and sour crispy tofu has been the new favourite among our loyal patrons.
You are known for your inventiveness with plating food. Has this come into play at the Thai Pavilion as well?
A simple, well-presented dish is half the battle won. In the F&B business, we need to tickle the five senses as well as strike a balance between all the five for a dish to be relevant and endure, while ensuring the visual aspect is not underplayed.
What are your favourite Thai dishes?
My personal favourites have been the pomelo salad and Thai prawn curry with jasmine rice.