BENGALURU : When are you happiest at work?
I am always happy at work and feel like it is the most positive way to be, especially when you’re given the responsibility to lead a large team. The best part of our job is when guests recognise our efforts and pay us compliments for the hard work.
What trends are you noticing regarding wine and food pairings?
Gone are the days when rule books were followed. Now the trend is less formal and more contemporary. The guests we get are open to experimentation. Theme dinners with wine and food is one of the most sought-after trends.
What was your biggest disappointment as a chef?
While I am aware that there is stiff competition in the market, it breaks my heart to see a team member leave. My vision for the team is to continuously strive to present them with exciting career opportunities, and it has always been my endeavour to deliver this. As an executive chef, it is hard for me to see talent go, and I try every possible way to retain them.
What do you always avoid ordering on a menu?
I avoid ordering spicy food off the menu as it always kills the taste and flavour of any dish. Authentic dishes with high spice level is fine but if the dish is generally spicy, I would definitely avoid it.
Of the dishes you prepare, which one would you never eat yourself? Why?
As a chef, there is nothing that I make and would not personally try. It is imperative for me to first be convinced myself before I offer it to my guests.
Which is your favourite restaurant? What would you prefer to eat there?
One of my favourite restaurants would be Sri Murlidhar Veg in Narayanpeth, Pune, which has been serving home-style thali since the last 60 years.
Describe one incident when you messed up a recipe real bad.
The incident took place during the early stages of my career at a food competition in Mumbai. I somehow messed up the recipe of a flourless chocolate cake during the competition. However, I managed to salvage the situation by recreating the recipe by following the instruction clearly next time, and that worked well for me.
What is the best recent food trend?
Zero waste is a trend that all chefs must adopt. Chefs are using leftover ingredients to create something new, whether it is using broccoli stems for purees and soups, dried tomato skin as garnishes or for making powders.I also believe in procuring ingredients from local farmers and avoid imported food items wherever possible. Millets is gluten-free and is hence gaining popularity among many of our patrons.
-Praveen Shetty, executive chef, Conrad Bengaluru