What do Chefs eat? The answer’s less elaborate than you would imagine. As it turns out, after a surfeit of fancy food, they like to keep it simple. Once they’re home, most of them also prefer to stay well away from the kitchen. And given how many food tastings they do everyday, all of them have tricks up their sleeves when it comes to staying fit. Shonali Muthalaly takes a sneak peek at their food habits…
Chef Willi, COO, Tuscana Kryptos Pvt Ltd. and Burgundy Restaurants
Favourite restaurants: 601 at The Park. We order the duck and salmon there. And Chap Chay at Raintree Hotel on St. Mary’s Road. I usually order the pork spare ribs and bok choy here. My partner, Marika and I eat a lot at home though. Al fresco dining on the terrace, surrounded by plants and lit with candles.
Everyday food: Breakfast is yoghurt with fruits and untoasted muesli. Lunch — hardly ever. I do so many tastings, I’m not hungry. For dinner, I try not to eat starch. So we do something like a chicken in wine. Lots of salads. Last night, Marika made a Russian beef stew. When I cook: We always have omelettes on Sundays. And I always make them. Since it’s the end of the week I clean out the fridge and use whatever I find: pepperoni with cream cheese, sometimes mozzarella and onion, sometimes mushrooms. I also do a lot of barbequeing — mostly some imported meat, sausages from Bangalore and crabs from the local market. I make a beautiful chilli crab!Power food: I used to have a health elixir. Fifteen fruits and vegetables in all. Spinach, beetroot, carrot, bitter gourd, coriander, ginger, garlic, celery, apples… But buying all the ingredients became too much work. Now we have fresh juice every morning — a mix of pineapples, guava and papaya.
Chef Rajesh Radhakrishnan, Area Director, Food Production, The Park Hotel
Favourite restaurants: Moonrakers in Mamallapuram where I eat calamari with their signature red masala. And Nair’s Mess, Chepauk, for their amazing seer fish fry and fish curry with rice. I love seafood. It’s probably in my genes because of my Kerala origin!
Everyday food: Breakfast at home is very structured — dosa, idli, aapam with egg curry... We also always have papaya and seasonal fresh fruit. Lunch is usually in our employee dining which serves simple and mostly South Indian food. Dinners are usually not part of the agenda, unless I am eating out. I am very particular that I taste a lot of the food we create/produce at the hotel. When I cook: To be honest, I seldom cook at home. After being in the kitchens for 12 hours or more, you do not want to wear an apron and start cooking once more at home! So if I have to cook, it would be a simple pasta with tomato, basil and olive oil. My most impressive dish is baked sea bass with olive, tomato and basil dust served with roasted sweet potato and jalapeno chutney.
Power food: A couple of almonds in the morning.
Chef Dharmen Makawana, Executive Chef, The Leela Palace Chennai
Favourite restaurants: For me, there’s nothing like home food, I have found it hard to find a place that can match up to my wife’s culinary skill. Her chicken stew with green papaya and drumstick leaves is a personal favourite.
Everyday Food: I start with cereals or oatmeal. Lunch and dinner is at the hotel on the run between several food tastings and improvisations on the menu. I usually work late hours; hence, at the end of my day, I prefer to grab a sandwich or a snack.
When I cook: I like to play with bread and eggs. I bring on the creative style while preparing my eggs. These are the 2 basic ingredients that people would always find in their kitchens and are very quick and easy to prepare. My most extravagant dish is a roast baby lamb marinated for 24 hours with mustard and herbs, and garlic and red wine with spiced stuffed tender cassava leaves on a spit over charcoal with roasted kumara garlic stalks.
Power food: Muesli bars.
Mohamed Siddiq, Executive Chef, Taj Club House
Favourite restaurants: Nair Mess near Chepauk Stadium where I eat the omelette and masala fried fish. I also enjoy the food at Zara, because it’s simple and tasty.
Everyday food: Breakfast is an egg white masala omelette or porridge with dry fruits and nuts at the hotel after our morning meetings. Lunch is also at the hotel; sometimes we eat at the employee dining. I like to keep it simple — mostly North Indian food, like dal-roti. Sometimes a salad. And dinner is usually at home — puttu and beef curry. Or chappati with chicken curry.
When I cook: I like food to be uncomplicated. I usually make seafood with the least possible mix of spices/ herbs. At the end of a long day, I would make myself a flat omelette with plenty of sliced chicken sausage, spring onions and local cheese. My most impressive dish is ‘Tomb of Tradition,’ which is a moulded tapioca mash with crackled mustard seeds, local spinach porial and curry grilled bay prawns.
Power food: Freshly squeezed juice of beet, carrot and apple with wild honey — this is an all-in-one power food, with a lot of medicinal benefits.
Chef Stig Drageide, Executive chef, Park Hyatt
Favourite restaurants: Stix at Hyatt Regency for stir fried prawns with XO sauce and dumplings. Dosas at ID, Sathyam Cinemas. And Bay View at Vivanta By Taj for fresh seafood from the grill. On days we’re tired, we order pizzas from Tuscana on Chamiers. My daughter loves their margherita pizza.
Everyday Food: I have a croissant and quick cup of coffee at work, around 8 a.m. For lunch, I usually try our restaurants to check on new items and standards. Or I go to our employee restaurant called the Green Room for a quick vegetarian curry with bread and a salad. For dinner, I am very lucky to have a loving wife who cooks for me when I come home around 10-11 p.m. — and it’s usually comfort foods like pastas, chicken dishes, burger with chips, shepherd’s pie, etc.
When I cook: I like to make traditional food with my own signature on it. At home, after a long day, I’m not in the mood to try out something extravagant, but something familiar, like a nicely cooked piece of fish or a grilled chicken. I love seafood, and very soon we are going to serve a classic French dish called ‘Papillote’ in a very modern and stylish way, using snapper, mussels, white wine and vegetables, all cooked in a plastic wrap.
Power food: I’m trying to put on weight! So my wife gives me a healthy protein shake every morning with fresh orange juice.