Inside his green-coloured kitchen punctuated with wooden hue, Chef Michael mixes minced chicken and special herbs with his palms greased with a teaspoon of butter, rolling them into small patties. No oil is used in mixing the chicken or for giving the patties a glossy appearance. He bakes them for exactly five minutes on each side to cook the soft Thai Chicken Cakes, which are served in a plate decorated with thin strands of shallots, lime wedges, spring onions and carrots. The cakes melt in the mouth and leave an aftertaste of aromatic herbs.
Chef Michael is a culinary artist. For him, cooking is a craft that involves taste, aroma and health. Working with cuisines from different parts of the world, the Bhubaneswar-based chef churns out delectable recipes that are visually appealing and low on calories. Michael’s Kitchen is the only restaurant in Odisha serving world cuisine and health, as he says, is a priority here. There is something for everyone, including those on a diet and diabetics. “I started this restaurant with a thought to introduce people of Bhubaneswar to cuisines other than the basic Indianised Chinese that has been done to death,” says Chef Michael, who has headed actor Dino Morea’s Crepe Station Cafe in Mumbai for over a decade before deciding to shift to Bhubaneswar to join Hotel Mayfair as the executive chef. He also owned the Mexican eatery Ice n Rolls in Mumbai.
Michael’s Kitchen was started on June 1. “People of Bhubaneswar are willing to explore new cuisines. The demand here is more for South East Asian (Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Cantonese) and Italian and Mexican cuisines,” says the chef, who specialises in making crepes (French pancakes). His menu includes 10 varieties of crepes in savoury and sweet varieties. To make them healthy, he uses whole wheat flour instead of the traditional maida (refined flour). He does not use oil at all.
Hot picks from Michael’s Kitchen are Spinach Ricotta crepe and Baked Cottage and Olive crepe for vegetarians and Pot Belly crepe, which has large quantities of chicken and sea food with vegetables, and the chicken-filled Light Weight crepe. “While the Pot Belly crepe is equivalent to a meal, Light Weight crepe is light on stomach as it is made with just shredded chicken seasoned with herbs and greens,” he says. As Odias love their seafood, his Garlic Butter Crab and Prawns are much in demand.
The chef has come up with salads with high protein content for those trying to lose weight. “Techies and officers call us for special dishes low on carbs but high on protein and vitamins. We have a special menu for them with salads, including the Bulgur Salad and Smoky Oats salad, grilled fish, seafood and chicken,” says the chef. The Turkish Bulgur Salad (wheat) has a healthy texture of chewy grains and nuts seasoned with cheese, onions and tomatoes. “For our special oats salad, I grill and pan toss soaked oats for a smoky aroma. This is then topped with mixed veggies, herbs, grilled chicken and seafood,” explains Michael.
He also tweaks Odia sweets with European flavours. The typical Odia Chenna Poda (cheese cake) is sugar-free and smoked in apple wood. “It can be had with rose-flavoured rabdi,” he says. The chef plans to open two more units of his restaurant in Bhubaneswar in the next few months.