When you are about to meet a chef who comes with the Michelin badge, your expectations of him and his culinary art automatically soar high. You picture extraordinary concepts and creations that would completely bowl you over. So on a fine afternoon, I eagerly set out to meet Anupam Banerjee, Executive Chef, The Ritz-Carlton, Bangalore, to hear all about his journey and witness him creating a few dishes from his culinary repertoire. Post my encounter with him, I was impressed for sure but on the contrary, it had very less to do with the extraordinary.
Keep it simple
Someone had said it right that true joy lies in the simple things in life. This forms the basis of Chef Banerjee’s culinary philosophy where he believes that a dish should have a simple thought behind its creation and the star ingredient should always be in spotlight. “When I present a tuna dish, I want the attention to be on the tuna without any frills,” he says. His dishes are therefore simple but power packed with flavours.
Quality ingredients, I feel, has much to do with bringing out the best flavours in a dish. Being an enthusiastic cook myself, very often I struggle to source the best local produce. So I can only imagine Chef’s dilemma having had the best supply of produce during his stint abroad and now having to cope here in Bangalore. But he says it’s not much of a challenge and it’s all about building the right connections. “It takes a little time but I have now built a certain trust with my suppliers wherein I know that they will provide me with the best produce,” says he with assurance.
Chef also has his little garden in the hotel premise where he’s growing his own greens. He’s a firm believer of the farm to fork concept and does his bit to contribute to a sustainable natural system.
The curious mind
It is fascinating how a curious mind makes us step out of our inhibitions and explore the unknown. Chef Banerjee didn’t grow up knowing that he was destined to be chef. It was his curiosity that made him develop an interest towards food, what was being laid on the table, how was it being prepared and so on. And in the process he churned out a passion for it. His journey began at IHM Chennai after which he went on to work in many renowned kitchens. One of his fond memories is a culinary contest years ago which required the participants to present three different meat dishes and he had won the first prize. That was when he realised that there was still so much more to learn and he took up opportunities abroad to build his culinary knowledge.
His young colleagues look up to him as an encouraging mentor and he is often found advising them that replicating an old recipe is redundant. Being a chef one must understand the history, logistic and concept behind the creation of a dish but lend his or her own characteristic touch to it or be inspired to create something exclusive. I say, there is no end to imagination!
Tossing up salads
So we spent the afternoon working on a recipe feature on salads. While I had expected some complicated recipes with complex entities, what came on the table made me sit back and realise that simplicity is what scores full points. The salads were presented with ingredients in its fresh and true forms and I couldn’t help but admire the beauty of it all. This is when you learn to appreciate robust flavours. For example, in the Tomato Burrata Salad, we saw the freshest varieties of sliced tomatoes – heirloom, beefsteak, red cherry and yellow cherry, along with a dollop of burrata cheese with the creamy inside, seasoned, dressed in olive oil, and served with homemade pesto and focaccia. Seriously, no frill and absolutely flavoursome! Another favourite of mine was the Moutabel, a creamy salad of roasted aubergine, garnished with parsley and pomegranate seeds.
It is least to say that Chef Banerjee has many interesting creations across the various F&B offerings at The Ritz-Carlton. We also heard about some tempting promotions coming up soon at The Market, the all-day dining. We are definitely looking forward to trying more creations from his culinary repertoire!
The Ritz-Carlton, #99, Residency Road, Bangalore; Tel: 080 49148000