Chef Hemant Kishore of Etude de Chocolat talks about the essence of his cooking
‘Inspired by food and life' is a mantra that stirs up passion in pastry chef Hemant Kishore. It's a mantra that's prompted this young entrepreneur to come back to his hometown after his stint as a chef in some of the top restaurants/hotels in the United States (U.S.), to start Etude de Chocolat (Studio Chocolat), a culinary enterprise that caters to all things food.
And like any recipe for success, this mantra too has some signature ingredients – in this case, Hemant's Alma Maters. “The food part of the mantra refers to my training in baking and pastry arts at The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) – arguably the best culinary school in the world, where I learnt everything that a pastry chef needs to know and then some. The second part of it refers to my zest for life, in part a tribute to those golden days at Manipal University, Karnataka, where I was a graduate student at the Welcomgroup Graduate Institute of Hotel Administration, and where I was first introduced to wonderful, multi-layered world of food. CIA's motto is ‘We speak food' while Manipal University's is ‘Inspired by life,' so naturally, mine's a combo of both. If food and life define me, then they are the essence of my cooking too,” says Hemant, who recently set up an industrial-size baking unit near Sreekariyam to kick start his culinary dreams.
As we wind our way through a residential colony to his work place, that wonderfully warm smell of baking grows stronger and stronger, until it permeates the air. There we find a harried Hemant, hard at work, “facing sleepless nights,” as he rushes to prepare batch after batch of his signature New York style Rum and Fruit Cake, all which have to be shipped across the country in time for Christmas.
The right ingredients
“The biggest challenge is getting top quality ingredients. For instance, it's nigh impossible to get unadulterated butter. Here, often you find that it comes mixed with dalda. The cardinal rule of baking is never to compromise on the quality of the ingredients,” says Hemant, who worked as a chef for world famous chefs like Joel Robuchon, Michael Mina and Tom Colicchio at their three star Michelin restaurants at the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Las Vegas, and as a sous chef in upmarket eateries such as Vermillion and Brick Lane Curry House in New York, to name a few.
“Working in these kitchens in the U.S. opened my eyes to a lot of different cuisines and techniques and styles of cooking – not only pastry. In fact, I'm game for anything to do with food. Venezuelan, Mexican, Bulgarian, Korean, Jamaican…you name it I can make it!” says the chef.
In fact, it was a trip to a resort in Barbados when he was in class four, that got Hemant interested in baking in the first place.
“I recall being awestruck by these incredibly beautiful cakes that were exquisitely decorated masterpieces of art. After that I was forever pestering my mother, Nandini, to buy me cookbooks. Of course, like most parents, mine too wanted me to go for engineering/medicine. I even studied science (in Christ Nagar School and St. Thomas Residential School). But I was much too passionate about cooking to think about doing anything else,” says Hemant.
After the Christmas rush, Hemant plans to start consulting in culinary issues, introduce a line of home-made American chocolates, expand his mail order cake business and so on.
Box of treats
Hemant promises to “do whatever you want with food.” Studio Chocolat's fruit cakes are priced at Rs. 650 ( delivery charges extra).
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