In Conversation with Chef Atul Kochhar
Chef Atul Kochhar, A Michelin Star Chef, that say’s it all about his talent and capabilities that places him in the group of world’s most talented and extraordinary Chefs. He is also successfully running his restaurants
Chef Atul Kochhar, A Michelin Star Chef, that say’s it all about his talent and capabilities that places him in the group of world’s most talented and extraordinary Chefs. He is also successfully running his restaurants in India, Dubai, UK and Europe which also makes him an outstanding restauranteur, serving people globally.
HospiBuz brings you some insights straight from Chef Atul Kochhar that how he has successfully climbed up the pinnacle of success and some tips for our aspiring Chefs and Restauranteurs.
HospiBuz: What was the most difficult and memorable moment at the time of achieving “Michelin Star”?
Chef Atul Kochhar : It was incredible, a moment that I will never forget. When I heard the news I couldn’t believe it and it took me quite some time to take it all in.
HospiBuz: You have been brought up in different and various cultural environments from Punjab to Bihar to South and currently in abroad, on that note how has these cultural variation affected your culinary/ cooking skills
Chef Atul Kochhar : I cook Indian food for a modern, intuitive and cultured crowd. It’s so exciting to be able to push the boundaries with people’s expectations of Indian cuisine and I’m very proud that we’re always moving on and always evolving. I travel the world, eat in as many places I can and I keep making sure that my menu, my team and my style responds to trends, changes in produce, and constantly evolves. I believe that growing up in various cultural environments has helped me see a more worldly style of cooking.
HospiBuz: You are one of chefs who is an epitome for changing people’s opinion about Indian cuisine, what opinion does people have about Indian cuisine and how do u changeit? Can you tell us the funniest or toughest moment you were trying to change people’s opinion about Indian food?
Chef Atul Kochhar : I like to use a combination of spices and blend them like an artist would mix colours. Black pepper and chilli are the most versatile spices and are greatly used in many other cuisines – they are also highly used in the UK and are favourites here, so it’s easy to create popular dishes with them. I use the basic Indian ingredients that people know and match them to more British dishes, that way people are more willing to give it a try. When I first arrived here in the UK I was somewhat puzzled as to how the British only though Indian food consisted of curries, it erred on the oily, heavy side with paving stone slabs of naan bread, more often than not used to soak up excessive beer consumption. It was my goal to change this perception.
HospiBuz: How do you manage being the king of the kitchen and as an accomplished restaurateur, both at same time? Please tell us about the hurdles you faced in your career growth, i.e. from being chef of accomplished hotels to start your own restaurants?
Chef Atul Kochhar : I don’t know, I just believe in hard work and I keep my head down. For me accolades are not the destination and success is definitely not a destination, it’s a journey and I just continue doing” I’m not sure whether I’m worthy of this but if I win two Michelin stars or even a bigger lottery I think I’ll be back to work the very next day. That’s the kind of ethos I was given as a child. I saw my dad working day in day out every day, he was a hard worker and that’s what I have in me and I want to give my young chefs who work with me and to my kids that as well. It’s a total mixture of pain and pleasure.
HospiBuz: Chef, you have restaurants in Dubai, Europe, India and U.K., do you find any taste buds Difference in people as per their location and does the taste of species or other ingredients vary as per climatic condition? How do you manage with the taste
Chef Atul Kochhar : My dishes and food are inspired by dishes from all over India; the flavour profiles, techniques and spice blends of the dishes are taken from specific regions like India’s western coast: Goa, Bangalore, Karnataka and Kerala. I advocate buying local produce at all times no matter which country I am in. In London we buy from local farmers and meat suppliers and in Spain we do the same. Peoples tastes are different no matter where you are but I do find that British taste buds are more open to higher levels of spicing compared to Europe. It is very important to adjust to what is available locally and Spain, for example, has a huge variety of ingredients that are new to me.
HospiBuz: What is your opinion about fusion food? Don’t you think with the concept of fusion food, the original cuisine loses its authenticity?
Chef Atul Kochhar : I don’t like the term ‘fusion’; I call it ‘evolving Indian’. To me it’s about the combination of my culinary heritage with British gastronomy, creating modern versions of originals from the motherland. I don’t believe that original foods will ever lose it’s authenticity, it will only change and adapt to peoples tastes and preferences.
HospiBuz: What food habit do you find different in Indian and other (foreigners)?
Chef Atul Kochhar : In India we snack a lot. We also tend to eat quite large portions of food. I see this as a major difference with other nationalities who eat smaller portions of healthier foods and tend to keep the sweet snacks to a minimum.
HospiBuz: What is food to you?
Chef Atul Kochhar : Food is soul, food has the power to bring people together, foods allows us to sit and rest with friends and family and unwind. Food can heal; food allows us to grow and to me is very important, it brings us all closer. The breaking of bread has always been part of the human story.
HospiBuz: Small message for your admirer and struggler in the hospitality world.
Chef Atul Kochhar : Dedicate your time to training and learning. It will help you in the future to grow up and command the kitchen. It will be tough, it will at sometimes be painful but you must persevere. It will be worth it in the end.
Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!