When are you happiest at work?
I love interacting with people, learning about new culinary traditions and cultures. I try to meet all the guests who arrive at the restaurant to converse with them, learn about their preferences, their eating habits and later on to curate specials based on their palate. I am very passionate about incorporating ingredients to their liking and cooking something special for them. I feel joyful when guests appreciate and relish the food.
What trends are you noticing regarding wine and food pairings?
For the last couple of years, food is coming back to classics. We are moving back to the lost and traditional flavours of the past. Around a decade ago, we saw that food became more visual and theatrical and was animated with an element of drama. With the rise in social media, this trend became very popular, people went to restaurants to capture the food.
Now, people want food which pleases the eye, the palate and the environment. Emphasis is on real food, sustainable ingredients and traditional ways of cooking. This trend of nutritionally dense, authentic and ecological food is here to stay and will be developed more in the future.
I would say that the future lies in the past, it’s important to preserve the authenticity of dishes. If you forget your roots then there is no future.
What do you always avoid ordering on a menu?
I love to try out new things. I believe one should always eat local and traditional food. The moment I landed in India, I ate Dosa, Biryani and different types of Idli and chutney. Food made with love is always delicious.
I dislike eating processed food, especially French fries; these are highly processed and unhealthy. You will rarely see me ordering these.
Of the dishes you prepare, which one would you never eat yourself? Why?
I am blessed to say that I love what I cook and I cook what I love. Hence, I love to eat what I prepare. Certain times, I do adapt dishes based on preferences from guests or in region that I am cooking in.
Which is your favourite restaurant? What would you prefer to eat there?
I love to dine at St. Hubertus in Italy. It is a fine-dining restaurant up in the mountains of Northern Italy with a philosophy of ‘Cook the Mountain’. The chef plans the menu based on the local produce in the mountain region. For example, they do not use olive oil as there are no olives grown in the surroundings, instead they use high quality butter from the region. They serve authentic mountain cuisine sourcing seasonal produce from local partners in the region. I love to eat Beetroot Gnocchi at Saint Hubertus.
Describe one incident when you messed up a recipe real bad.
In the start of my career, I was trying to make Schmarren – A dessert deep fried in oil and I made a volcano instead (just kidding). Let me explain, I used a wet spoon to turn the Schmarren in hot oil and the oil started to bubble and then the whole vessel and oil caught fire. Thankfully, my colleagues helped me out and a disaster was averted.
What is the best recent food trend?
Cooking responsibly, while not only thinking of fame and money but also thinking about the environment is crucial. Reducing plastic usage, cooking locally sourced produce, using healthy alternatives to processed ones and still maintain the taste and the quality is a trend which is here to stay.
– Chef Lorenzo Stelzer, curator, Italian pop-up, Shangri-La Hotel Bengaluru