By Madhulika Dash
Forecasting, said legendary chef Anthony Michael Bourdain, is much like the gambling machine. You can only wish and forecast. The only exception to this rule are chefs. When they predict, it works – how swell or not is immaterial. And the reason for this is that when chefs predict they have already set the stage for the same. It is in fact, Chef Bourdain, added, "one of the best bet to know what will the chef serve this season."
With that hint, Bawarchi decided to ask 2018 changemakers to tell us how they see plate 2019. Here is what they had to say:
CHEF VIKAS SETH, CULINARY DIRECTOR, EMBASSY LEISURE (SANCHEZ, SRIRACHA)
Trend: Unapologetic food
"In my years as chefs, there is one aspect of culinary world that has fascinated me most: the art of serving unapologetic food. Chefs who have done it with flair have always been regarded as one of the finest. An excellent example of this is Gaggan Anand. He took his roots and decided to present it in a way he wanted – and the result is inspiring. The trend is slowly picking up in India too when well- travelled diners are appreciating food that is presented as it is, and have an eagerness to learn more. At Sanchez, we have practiced this for a long time where Mexican food is presented as it is – even adding a live-on-your table concept where we create the food (guacamole) – and have been appreciated well. This is a trend that is likely to go well in 2019.
CHEF SHARAD DEWAN, REGIONAL DIRECTOR- FOOD PRODUCTION, THE PARK KOLKATA
Trend: Seeds and cold pressed
"Every year has this one thing that works really well – like movies. For 2018, the screen belonged to millets. It was sensational how both chefs and diners rooted for it. That has given hope for the revival of many such ingredients, and at the same time those that have been an existential part of our diets like seeds, especially of fruits like jackfruit, pumpkin and such. Also, of cold pressed oil, especially of coconut and mustard, which was traditionally used to cook food. I forsee the coming back of both these ingredients that have for long been the ingredient used not only for wellness but for flavours as well. I see charmagaz replacing cream in our curries and food being cooked with cold pressed oil instead of refined fat."
CHEF SABYASACHI GORAI, CULINARY DIRECTOR, BOB'S BAR
"For long, there have been these handful of chefs who have tried their best to set a trend by being the first to work with it. But with younger generation taking the baton, I feel we would have more trend-makers given their fascinating approach to food. I see a lot of region superheroes rising in 2019 across India – be it chefs who are making a mark with their own legacy or the one they have been adopted to, and foodpreneurs who will be working to save and promote a gem that they discovered during their food journey. In either case, I see India ruling India for 2019 with a fascinating marriage of back to roots and new ideas."
CHEF AKSHRAJ JODHA, EXECUTIVE CHEF, ITC WINDSOR
Trend: Storytelling is back
"As a chef, the one thing I have discovered that connects people more to food than tasty food itself is the story behind. It can be anything: a legend, a journey even an anecdote and the experience elevates several notches. In fact, in 2019, I see the rise of a lot of well-designed menus that not only present food interestingly but with a story behind. And this will not only be limited to Indian cuisine but international too. Also, I see a lot of revival tables next year that works to explore how we ate in not so distant future, much like the Titanic menu I created a while ago, or the special menu created by outstanding peer Chef Mir Zafar Ali to celebrate the legacy of Chef Paul Bocuse."
CHEF MIR ZAFAR ALI, EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE LEELA BENGALURU
Trend: Nostalgia experiential
"In the past decade, Indian culinary space has been the hotbed for quite a few international trends: from molecular to black food to using exotic ingredients, and all-styles of QSRs that have served everything from burgers to pizza to rolls and even biryanis. This has cleared the slate for newer concepts – essentially platforms that weds experiential with indulgence. The recurring tiffin theme has been a small showcase of how to create that platform. This means a lot of research would be needed, especially on the home front. After all, nothing sells like food from your backyard."
CHEF ABHIJIT SAHA, CHEFPRENEUR, FAVA AND ROCKSALT
Trend: The rise of the intelligent diners
"It not really a trend, trend, I can confess that much, but more like an observation that has happened in the past 10 years that has forced the dining space to change – and evolve. It is the rising of the well-heeled, well-travelled diners who have begun asking for more. The "more" incidentally isn't just about a better experience and interesting modern food, but also of those that are slowly disappearing from our tables, and have survived in stories that nudge us to go find them. Thanks to this niche food audience, chefs have been under constant research mode to find ways to meet the demand. One of the ways to do it is have more residential stays than just pop-ups. We did one with Sindhi cuisine in Rocksalt. In 2019, I see more such wonders happening, and it's all courtesy, the diners."
DOMINIC GERARD, EXECUTIVE CHEF, THE LEELA PALACE BENGALURU
Trend: Ingredient based menus
"The year 2019 will belong to ingredients – rather their discovery (and rediscovery) in different forms. And one place that it will be showcased the most are the experiential menus, which will be designed one particular produce, spice, herb or even grain. What will also come to the fore is indigenous cooking technique that has been retweaked to suit the modern kitchen style."