The new executive chef at Park Hyatt believes in sous vide cooking and the fresh herbs in their patch of green
In just 10 minutes of our meeting, Grzegorz Odolak has already told us about his brunch at The Flying Elephant, the herb garden that supplies basil to their kitchen and his stint in the middle East. The new executive chef of the Park Hyatt urges that we head to their multi-level restaurant and start with a nice Mediterranean salad, but I insist he tells me all about his journey as a chef first. “Ah! My mother was a chef back home in Warsaw,” he begins. “Of course, I was inspired by her and joined culinary school.” We then learn about his three year romance with Mediterranean cuisine at a stand alone restaurant, before an opportunity with Hyatt came knocking. After six years at Hyatt Warsaw, the chef moved to Hyatt Regency Dubai and then to the Grand Hyatt in Qatar, before Chennai.
“I came here last November to see the place, and liked it,” says Odolak, adding, “then came the tough part of convincing my wife.” Nevertheless, he took charge at Park Hyatt this January and his family joined him two weeks ago. “My first week here was very interesting,” he says, recalling trips to the markets and discovering our local produce, that he plans to highlight. Odolak, 33, is also looking forward to a visit to Ooty and hopes to bring back some seeds for their herb garden. As a matter of fact, his bowl of fresh herbs (think basil, mint leaves, asparagus sprouts, edible flowers, etc) seem to follow him across the different stations of The Flying Elephant, as he plates up a couple of signatures. “Colour is very important,” he says, sprinkling dried carrot flakes over the scallops resting on a bed of carrot puree. His Mediterranean salad and homemade ricotta with blanched tomatoes prove his loyalty to making full use of fresh vegetables and herbs.
Slow and steady
Speaking of Mediterranean, the next time you visit the hotel, be sure to try their mezza — one of the few things the chef has changed since his arrival. “I’ve just added my finishing touches to them,” smiles the chef, who is a huge fan of Mediterranean and Thai cuisine. And if you enjoy pork, Odolak makes a mean belly, slow cooked for 12 hours. “I’m not a big fan of molecular cuisine though. I prefer techniques like sous vide,” says the fan of the Michelin star American chef Thomas Keller, who swears by the technique. Among other things, the chef has introduced a market concept to their Sunday brunch at The Flying Elephant and spends maximum time with suppliers. A curry leaf cheese by Mango Hill has caught his attention, he says, adding that he might come up with a way to make use of it. But can we expect to see any Polish cuisine on their cards? “I did a Polish whole duck with beetroot that was quite popular at the Masters of Food & Wine promotion. But on the menu, duck is not very popular,” is his answer.
— Ryan Peppin