All chefs have the same story. It begins in the kitchens of their mothers and grandmothers. My own mother was a wonderful cook and she is the one who sparked my lifelong interest in food,” says Chef Dayanshakar Sharma, whose London restaurant, Grand Trunk Road, was recently awarded a Michelin Plate, a fairly good indicator that the eatery is well on its way to getting those coveted stars.
Growing up, Sharma dabbled in culinary experimentation before going on to graduate with a culinary diploma from Udaipur in 1991. While hotel management is seen as a viable career for poor students, Sharma was a science student with good grades. However, after being unable to secure a place in medical school, he decided to pursue his passion as a career, and after his diploma he went on to work at various Oberoi and Taj properties, becoming the youngest chef to be sent to Sri Lanka for a food festival by the latter.
These food festivals continued to propagate, with Sharma having to re-encapsulate the glory of Indian cuisine and the varied regional tastes that define it. “From France to Singapore and Malaysia to Switzerland, my food has always been about India. There are no gimmicks or alterations. I present Indian food in its complete historic entirety.” That being said, Chef Sharma is not someone who feels the need to keep up with fads. “I don’t believe in the idea of contemporary Indian. Our various cuisines, no matter their original geography, are specific and, to put it simply, serious. India has so many cuisines that are not easy to replicate,” he says.
By Indian being a serious cuisine, he means there are more steps to creating a representative meal of the sub-continent than of an xyz dish somewhere from our current borders. “No offense to the Bangladeshis, but when they created and then started to promote Chicken Tikka Masala in London, people had no idea what actually defined Indian food, and so thought that that dish was representative of our cuisine,” says Sharma, who has since gone on to educate London’s global palate on Indian flavours through his restaurants.
Since then, diners in London have come to appreciate the variegated palates and plates of regional cuisines that come together to define an “Indian” menu. Under his command Grand Trunk Road has won 11 awards over the last three years since opening. As former head chef of the critically acclaimed Imli, (now known as Tamarind Kitchen in Soho) and of the Mayfair institution that is Zaika, as well as chef of Tamarind (the first ever Michelin Starred Indian Restaurant) and from leading teams of 12-14 chefs, his previous position as the Indian Food Consultant for a number of major airline catering companies has seen him continue to develop his understanding of flavour and execution.
With more than 32 years of knowledge and experience, his work has helped to establish the image of a range of high-profile names and outlets in Middle East, while his time at India’s Taj and The Oberoi Hotel saw him design and complete a host of events and state banquets for foreign presidents, diplomats, and celebrities. Now, he’s one of them.