Hilton Bangalore’s new chef Amit Gera believes that resorting to local produce goes a long way in improving a restaurant’s productivity
For chef Amit Gera, learning on the job is the best kind of training one can receive. Not that he’s stating something unusual, but on his current assignment, as the executive chef of Hilton Bangalore, he intends to incorporate ideas and techniques he’s learnt from working with different chefs in his career of 15 years.
Having worked at some of the biggest hotel brands such as The Oberoi, The Leela, and The Sheraton, in different cities, Gera says that each of his experiences has taught him something new.
Keep it simple
“One of the most important things we’re going to be doing across all the restaurants when we upgrade the menus at the Hilton is highlight some of the signatures of the restaurants. Therefore be it the coffee shop, or the bar, there is going to be a few dishes that focus on the essence of the space,” says Gera.
And he’s quite fond of fusion food, but that too comes with a disclaimer. “I do fusion food from time to time. But I don’t like the idea of taking things too far. Moderation is key, even in progressive food. I think it’s important to understand what works with what, and not do something just because you like it. It’s absolutely okay to experiment but you can’t change the intrinsic flavour of a dish,” he explains, adding, “You can’t take a gimmick too far. It does work to an extent, I will agree, because you can attract people with it. But if I want a nihari, I want it to look and taste like a nihari, and not something else.”
A fresh take
Beyond all this, what Gera is quite passionate about is using fresh seasonal produce. “People should understand the importance of using seasonal produce. Let me give you an example; the red carrots you get in winter, which will disappear by January, make the best gajar ka halwa. After this, you’ll have to resort to mostly cold storage carrots. And you simply cannot get the real flavour from stored carrots. I am in fact
planning to make fresh apricot sorbets if I get good quality fresh apricots in February and pass them around in the lobby to whoever walks in. It’s important to keep the awareness alive — that fresh produce is best in its season,” says the chef.
He also wants to reintroduce vegetables such as the ridge gourd, squash, and bottle gourd in its various avatars. “The problem is most of us know how to cook them in one or two ways. That these vegetables can be as flexible as possible is something we need to focus on,” he says.
The chef, who enjoys fast food as much as he relishes good pasta, is also gearing up for the launch of Salt Grill, yet another outlet by the hotel.
“The entire concept is based on the idea of cooking on Himalayan salt slabs. We’re going to have a limited menu that will focus on grilled meats, some tandoori dishes, and even some south Indian dishes that can be cooked on the slabs,” he explains.
— Priyadarshini Nandy