Food for Thought - Life as a Chef

  •   2018-11-21  |  nepaltraveller.com

Reeya Pradhan from Nepal Traveller has a tête-à-tête with Hotel Shangri~La’s Executive Chef, Vikram Kumar about his passions and culinary journey that started from one of the leading international hospitality brands to Shangri~La

With a rich 24 years of experience underneath his belt, Chef Kumar is a charismatic figure towering over his apprentices vis-a-vis his powerful demeanour and exceedingly large number of skills. When asked what inspired him to cook professionally, he mentioned that he loved cooking and it was his first day itself in culinary school that made him want to be a chef.

He did his catering from Bangalore University, India. Previously working for the Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts, Chef Kumar is also involved in fusion food with all the background that he has in various types of cuisines.

  1. What fuels your passion as a chef?

Well, being an Executive Chef I am always hungry to create something new and exotic and constantly up for the new challenges that it brings. And as the culinary field is always evolving, new trends of cooking are coming up every day and the idea of food itself is persistently changing. And that fuels my passion as a chef.

  1. What is your favourite cuisine? What are the new trends that you have noticed when it comes to these cuisines?

My favourite is the Mediterranean cuisine. And the new trends that I’ve noticed these days definitely involve people inclining towards healthy and organic food. And of course, vegan culture is on the rise even in Nepal, generally out of curiosity though. But in this cuisine, a lot of salubrious elements are involved, so, I love to create new dishes related to Mediterranean food using the freshest produce and proteins I can procure from my small garden or our local farmers market.

  1. How has your experience at Shangri~la been so far?

My experience with Shangri~La, so far, has been excellent. The people that I work with are very friendly. All my co-workers - the staff in the kitchen and the hotel they’re very nice. It’s a very good and healthy environment to work in.

  1. What three things would you consider to be your strengths?

My three strengths would include the facts that I am a team player, an avid learner and a good listener. I get along with people very easily as I am very sociable, and I love to lead my team - I am fairly positive about my leadership qualities as the Executive Chef.

  1. What are some of the upcoming food-related events at Shangri~La?

Upcoming food events in the hotel are the Cake Mixing ceremony, Christmas brunch and New Year bash, all equally important.

  1. What advice would you give to people who are interested in building a career in the food industry?

Be punctual, always follow the schedule. Remember that hard work is always the key to success. Be honest to your work. Try to learn the new arts of culinary as frequently and as much as possible. But most importantly, have faith in yourself.

  1. What are your signature dishes?

My signature dishes are Lobster with fennel and cardamom jus and Fillet mignon with sage and green pepper.

 

Chef Kumar prepared two special dishes for us: the Pesto crust Rack of Lamb with Green Pepper and Red Wine and the Fried Basa with Parmesan beetroot and lime sauce on peas bed.

The lamb shanks were decadent, succulent meat falling apart at the bone, the jus was peppery enough to add a kick to your tongue. Whereas the saffron risotto served on the side was the creamiest and cheesiest pasta dish one can ever have. And with aromatic spices lacing every bite - you could simply taste the luxury. The second dish almost appeared to be a take on the classic British comfort food, fried fish and mushy peas except, it was obviously amped up with rich flavours. The fish was moist and flaky while the beetroot and lime sauce added the perfect hit of sweetness and zestiness to the dish. And the bed of peas was smooth and buttery which was a perfectly complemented the star of the show- the batter fried Basa.

 

Recipes of the week:

Pesto crust Rack of Lamb with Green Pepper and Red Wine

 

Ingredients:

Rack of Lamb-120gms

Olive oil-100 ml

Clarified butter for browning- 40 grams

Garlic paste

Salt and pepper to taste

 

For the sauce:

Basil Leaf - 50 gm

Parmesan cheese - 30 gm

Olive oil - 40ml

Pine nuts - 30 gm

Garlic - 40 gm

Shallot - small, diced

Red wine - 60 ml

Green Pepper - 40 gm

Butter – 40 gm

Salt and pepper to taste

Thyme – 10 gm

 

Instructions:

Massage the rib rack thoroughly with a mixture of rosemary, thyme, and garlic and sprinkle freshly ground black pepper and olive oil. Place the meat in the refrigerator overnight to rest and marinate. Remove lamb rack the next day and keep at room temperature for 1 and a half to 2 hours before you cook. Next, wrap the exposed bones in foil so that they don’t burn and place the lamb rack bone side down (fat side up) on a roasting pan lined with the foil as well. Accordingly, place the roast in the oven roast at 450°F for 10 minutes or until the surface of the roast is nicely browned. After removing the dish from the oven, generously lather the Pesto sauce on the meat and cover it with foil and let rest for 15 minutes. Now, heat some olive oil on a frying pan and add chopped garlic and chopped shallots to sauté it. Then add the demi glaze, green pepper, thyme and red wine, keeping in min to reduce it to half. And finally, on a clean plate, arrange the lamb and vegetables and pour sauce on the top of lamb. Serve hot and with a side of your own version of risotto.

   

Fried Basa with Parmesan beetroot and lime sauce on peas bed

 

Ingredients:

Basa fish Fillet - 100 gm

Basil -10 gm

Salt and pepper to taste

Refined flour - 80 gm

Parmesan cheese - 30 gm

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil – 40 ml

Refined oil for frying

Green peas - 40gm

 

For the sauce:

Butter - 40 gm

Lime juice – 10 ml

Garlic chopped – 20 gm

Beetroot puree - 25 gm

Salt and pepper to taste

Finely chopped parsley

 

Instructions:

First things first, marinate the Basa fillet with salt, pepper, Parmesan cheese and olive oil. Now, heat the refined oil in a fryer and deep fry the parm-crusted fish. Next, heat another frying pan and add butter, chopped garlic, and sauté, adding the beetroot purée a little later. Then add the lime juice and continue reducing the sauce, taking it off the heat when thickened. On the side, boil some green peas while adding a sufficient amount of seasoning, and once soft, mash it coarsely. To assemble the dish, on a clean plate, make a bed of green peas and arrange the fish top. Garnish with micro herbs and serve the crispy fillet with the soft peas.

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