There’s nothing between me and my chef. Even the glass is gone. The move to the globalisation of the culinary experience often has unexpected facets — from English high teas in remote corners of the Commonwealth to desi Chinese joints in the US of A. Among the unintentional results is the outing of the curries and raans.
The open, interactive kitchen became the norm in the west a while ago, but cuisines of the east, especially Indian, have been hesitant. The Frontier at ITDC’s Ashoka was a pioneer of sorts in India and this trend has since been adopted by most top end hotels. But in a major shot in the arm for the consumer, persistent queries have pushed the stoves and chullas out in to the open. “The open kitchen is in, where the kitchen is the restaurant and restaurant is the kitchen — everything is interactive and you can choose what you want to eat and how you want it,” says Vivek Bhatt, executive sous chef of Shangri-La Hotel, Delhi. “There has been a globalisation of food, and India too has become part of the process,” says Sandeep Kachroo, executive chef, Taj Westend, Bangalore, where all the three restaurants — Indian, Vietnamese and the coffee shop, have open kitchen.
“Display and open kitchens are rapidly gaining prominence, not only because they offer a way to express the concept of a restaurant, but they also attract guests’ interest towards the process of cooking, says Marcus Mathyssek, executive chef, Hyatt Regency, Delhi. “In most cases, the concept is backed by the demand for fresh preparation by customers who today are far more perceptive and demanding than ever before. Chefs can directly seek instructions from the guests on their likes or dislikes, receive immediate feedback, and showcase their product and skill.” Admittedly often it is the non-Indian who ends up with her nose against the glass panel (or next to the tandoor), though the occasional Indian too drops the know-it-all to chat to the chef. “A lot more of our foreign clients are curious,” admits Vikas Ahluwalia, F&B manager, Taj Banjara, Hyderabad, who points out that an open kitchen helps psychologically.
Among the major advantages is that it assures vegetarians that the utensils and the base dishes are kept entirely separate, confirm most chefs. “I feel reassured,” is the comment a guest makes, saying that it can be a factor in