In Conversation with Chef Hari Nayak
Chef Hari Nayak is a well-known Chef in the hospitality industry, who apart from being a chef is also a restaurateur, an author of 6 bestselling books as well as a culinary consultant in North America. Famous
Chef Hari Nayak is a well-known Chef in the hospitality industry, who apart from being a chef is also a restaurateur, an author of 6 bestselling books as well as a culinary consultant in North America.
Famous for his unique and simplistic style with food, he has provided a new modern outlook on Indian cuisine that has created a sensation in North America. Let us know the simple and stylish facts that have made him unique in every way.
HospiBuz: Every successful person always has an inspiring story behind him/her. What drove you towards being a Chef and about your epicurean journey.
Chef Hari Nayak: My journey has remained the same since I was a little kid. It was always about deconstructing and innovating and recreating the experiences. I was always a curious kid when it came to my food. Watching my grandmother cook or the local chaatwalla, I would come home and try to recreate the same taste and experience. I would not stop till I got it right. I would then add twists to it of my own and see my friends and family smile with delight. I haven’t stopped since then.
HospiBuz: You have worked in North America, where you created a sensation amongst the population about the Indian cuisine; this must have been a result of a lot of hard work and discipline. What are the principles that you follow which bring a uniqueness in your cooking, especially when you work for a diverse population with different taste preferences?
Chef Hari Nayak: My principles are fairly simple. I use local and seasonal ingredients and influences of regional cuisines which help drive familiarity with the dishes.
HospiBuz: “Indian yet Modern” is something that Chef Hari Nayak is known for, we would like to know how you amalgamate these two concepts together.
Chef Hari Nayak: I use Indian flavors and spices and combine it with Western cooking techniques and presentations to create my dishes. Indian cuisine is known for being very involved and complicated and for its spicy, heavy sauces. I try to break the stereotype by making it more appealing both to the western audience as well as the new generation by deconstructing the dishes, using lesser and more accessible ingredients and making the sauces lighter to the palate.
HospiBuz: You have been providing culinary consulting services to many organisation and international restaurants. How do you manage such wide portfolio and what are the basics that you follow while offering the consultations because when it comes to international cuisines, you must have to completely understand diverse cultures of different regions.
Chef Hari Nayak: I think I had the advantage of growing up in India which has one of the most diverse cuisines in the world and then studying in CIA, New York which in my opinion is the melting pot of all cultures and cuisines. So I have always had the opportunity to explore various cuisines and study
the basic principles, ingredients and spice that go into making a regional cuisine unique. I stick to the basics, follow market trends and play with the ingredients that are regionally familiar and yet helps me push boundaries by dabbling with influences from other cuisines.
HospiBuz: You have been the author of 6 best-selling books, which one you would rate nearest to your heart and why?
Chef Hari Nayak: That will have to be Modern Indian Cooking- it was my first book co authored with a good friend chef Vikas Khanna ,written in very early stages when no one in America was trying to explore progressive Indian cuisine or do something different with Indian cuisine. It was a bold step at that time. The welcome response I got to the book is what paved my way into everything I am doing now. It encouraged and inspired me to explore and innovate more with Indian cuisine and introduce it as one of the forerunners in the global culinary map.
HospiBuz: You have been a global Chef now, after being experienced working in numerous countries where you have introduced Indian Cuisines in most innovative ways. How much people have loved Indian cuisines and how much value do you think Indian Cuisines hold in global trends?
Chef Hari Nayak: There is tremendous love and value for Indian cuisine globally. The diversity of flavors and dishes are unparalleled to any other cuisine. People love it knowing just a small segment of the cuisine- there is so much more to explore and so much opportunity to know about the different cultures and regions of India through its cuisine. It is the one of the fastest growing cuisine and I am confident it will very soon it will be one of the top three regional cuisines of the world.
HospiBuz: You have grown up while living in Karnataka which is itself famous for its spices, food, culture and taste. How much has this influenced your cooking?
Chef Hari Nayak: I think you can never go far from your root and where we grow up or where we come from always play a big part in who we are and what we do. Be it comfort food or creating a new dish or recipe, I often go back to my roots for inspiration. I love using the flavors subtly which evoke memories of childhood and home and at the same time leaves you wondering what the ingredient is.
HospiBuz: What would be some quick tips you would like to give to our aspiring young chefs who dream of entering into global market becoming global chefs.
Chef Hari Nayak: The whole world is your palette. Use the cuisines as your colors and play freely! Don’t limit yourself, don’t be afraid to explore and innovate. See the world, experience it, be curious. Work hard and follow your passion.
Thank you so much for your prestigious time!!