1

The Heat is On

Sous vide – the culinary technique that sees vacuum-packed items submerged in a water bath at precisely controlled temperatures – helped define the food of the Noughties. Many of the world’s leading chefs, from Heston Blumenthal to Thomas Keller, employed it behind the scenes. Alongside the much-vaunted rise of “molecular gastronomy”, it allowed science to play a more prominent role in high-end cuisine, guaranteeing accuracy, consistency and even perfection.

 

But it’s not exactly mouth-wateringly sexy, is it? So just as every movement prompts a counter-insurgency, the past few years have witnessed the more populist re-emergence of cooking and smoking over fire and charcoal. From London to Singapore, the Maldives to Mauritius, barbecue is back. What’s more, the dishes emerging from the parillas and kilns of today’s kitchens and outdoor cooking stations feed not only our appetites, but our raw primal instincts.

 

At his Singapore restaurant Burnt Ends, chef Dave Pynt smokes pretty much everything. “Pineapple, leeks, quail’s eggs, fish – you name it, we can get smoke into it,” he says. Pynt, originally from Perth in Western Australia, opened a pop-up in East London in 2013 under the title Burnt Enz. It proved such a roaring success that the chef was whisked off to Singapore with his four-ton dual-cavity oven to open the fully fledged version (replacing the questionable “z” with a respectable “ds” in the process).

 

While the restaurant is built around a big beast of an oven, with counter seating and three customized charcoal grills, the sophistication of the cooking and depth of flavor drawn from simple ingredients is astounding. There is superb, succulent meat on offer – harissa lamb, pulled pork, Jacob’s Ladder short rib, even Hida wagyu from Japan – but there are also surprising delights, such as charred fennel imbued with almond-wood smoke and served with orange and burrata.

 

Such has been the big-bearded Aussie’s success in tuning into the food zeitgeist in restaurant-mad Singapore that Burnt Ends is now ranked in the top ten of the well-respected Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Pynt’s inspiration and mentor, however, is a man frequently cited as the current king of “grill cooking”: the hermit-like Spaniard, Victor Arguinzoniz.

 

Arguinzoniz grew up and still works in the remote countryside south of Spain’s Basque Country. Over the past two decades, his restaurant Asador Etxebarri (asador being Spanish for barbecue) has built its reputation to the point where intrepid diners and international chefs will make the pilgrimage from all corners of the world to experience his food.

 

What’s so special as to draw such discerning crowds, as well as critical plaudits? Well, every element on the substantial menu is cooked on hand-crafted, adjustable-height grills: juicy Palamós prawns, anchovies on toast, fresh buffalo mozzarella (from the chef’s own herd grazing next door), eel, enormous Tomahawk steaks, even smoked-milk ice cream.

 

The influence of restaurants such as Etxebarri and Burnt Ends is reflected across the globe. More and more chefs cite Arguinzoniz and the legendary Argentinian chef, author and restaurateur Francis Mallmann as guiding forces. Mallmann wrote the book on the philosophy and craft of cooking over flames and embers – Siete Fuegos: Mi Cocina Argentina (Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way) – following a Damascene conversion after years of preparing haute cuisine in the classic French style. A maverick and raconteur, he has become a cult figure, in part due to his regular appearances on food shows across American TV networks.

 

In the States, barbecuing traditions run very deep, especially in the South. Danny Meyer is the doyen of the New York restaurant scene, with Union Square Café, The Modern and Gramercy Tavern to his name, but he originally hails from St. Louis. He brought southern barbecue into the city in the form of Blue Smoke in Manhattan’s Flatiron district – a format so successful, it has spawned offshoots at ballparks and even at JFK airport.

 

Head west to The St. Regis Deer Valley in Park City, Utah, and you’ll see a whole hog being spit-roasted every Sunday in the summer on The Mountain Terrace. Chef de cuisine Rachel Wiener sources pigs locally, alongside finest American wagyu from Idaho and seasonal vegetables from local farmers, all of which might find their way on to the Traeger Grill.

 

In the Maldives, St. Regis guests can take things a step further by enjoying a mobile barbecue station with a bespoke menu anywhere from rooftop to the terrace – and even on the beach itself. Expect to feast on rib-eye steaks and the freshest grilled seafood. The Royal Villa at The St. Regis Mauritius offers a similarly luxe take on this al fresco classic.

 

Our appetite for this natural form of cooking shows little sign of abating, with built-in charcoal barbecues, wood-fired ovens, and even smoking sheds de rigueur in the homes of fashionable food lovers. This fire is not ready to be put out, so let’s throw another steak on the grill.



Your address: The St. Regis Deer Valley; The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort; The St. Regis Mauritius; The St. Regis Singapore

 

Flame reaction

Chicken char-grilled to perfection. The sophistication of today’s grilling methods means almost any food can be thrown on the griddle... even ice cream

(Photo: Gallery stock)

 

Chef

Kitchen Confidential

Oscar Portal is the innovative head chef at The St. Regis Mexico City, where he oversees six restaurants, from the King Cole Bar to private dining. Prior to moving to Mexico, he was pivotal in transforming the gastronomy scene in Madrid, while one of his first projects at St. Regis was creating a refined fish-and-chips pop-up called Krug & Chips.

 

What do you eat when you’re home alone? Because I cook so much at work, when I’m at home I often eat takeaways: pepperoni pizza, cheeseburgers, sushi, and Chinese dishes like vegetable spring rolls, rice soup and dumplings. If I cook, it’s only because my two-and-a-half-year-old son has to eat well. What I eat is not good for my health!

 

What would you order from your own menu? Clarified chicken broth or fish broth, then short-rib glaze [roasted short ribs] followed by Parmesan ice cream.

 

What is your favorite dish to cook? Anything with fish or seafood. These dishes are a real challenge to cook, because their taste – particularly turbot – is so delicate.

 

Any local food that particularly inspires you? There’s a really spicy dish I love from the coast of Mexico called aguachile – thinly sliced shrimps, lime and vegetables, which can be cooked in different sauces. I also like mole, an ancient Mexican sauce that’s really complicated to make; some recipes use over 100 ingredients.

 

The proudest moment in your career? The first was when I was working in a restaurant called Pinera in Madrid and the newspaper El Mundo voted us Restaurant of the Year in 2010. Considering how many restaurants there are in Madrid, this was a huge achievement. The second was moving to Mexico City and becoming executive chef at St. Regis.

 

Which dish are you most proud of? Smoked eel salad with tomato gel, watermelon and prunes. It’s molecular cuisine; I created it at Pinera in Madrid and it’s as beautiful as it is tasty.

 

The most delicious thing to eat in Mexico City? Taco al pastor. You can find it in local taquerias, but it’s best bought as street food. You should buy it the minute you arrive. For simple, tasty food, there’s nothing better. I particularly like the corn tortillas filled with marinated pork, curry sauce, onion, pineapple and coriander.

 

Which meal would you have again, if you could? One I had with my wife when she was pregnant with our first son. We’d been apart – I was working in Mexico while she was at home in Madrid – and we reunited in San Sebastian during Holy Week at [our friend] Martin Berasategui’s restaurant. We ate lobster salad, hake in green sauce and chocolate mousse. It was one of the best meals of my life.

 

The secret to running a restaurant? There’s no magic formula, but you do need to make sacrifices: you work long hours and you give up holidays. If you don’t love it, there’s no future.

 

What was your favorite food as a child? A soup my mother used to cook, cocido madrileño, and my grandmother’s meatballs. I could eat these foods every week and never get tired of them.

 

What reminds you of home? Every Saturday, my whole family gathers around my mother’s table. I go home twice a year and we still do it. Sitting around that table makes me feel like a boy again, and brings back memories of helping my grandmother in the kitchen when I was little.

 

Your address: The St. Regis Mexico City

 

Oscar Portal

 

ISSUE-8-FOOD-1_issue7

Kitchen Confidential

Widely regarded as one of the top chefs in Italy, Valeria Piccini’s restaurant, Da Caino, in southern Tuscany, has held two Michelin stars since 1999. Three years ago, Piccini was invited to team up with The St. Regis Florence’s executive chef, Michele Griglio, to create Restaurant Winter Garden by Caino, the hotel’s fine dining experience, housed in an exquisite former courtyard with lofty ceilings and sumptuous décor. From day one, the collaboration between these two culinary masters has been a resounding success: in 2014 the restaurant was awarded a Michelin star for its unique take on classic Tuscan cooking.

 

What do you eat when you’re home alone?

 

V.C. Spaghetti and eggs with tomato sauce.
M.G. Something very simple like a beef fillet.

 

 

What would you order from the menu at Restaurant Winter Garden by Caino?

 

V.C. Right now I would order the homemade ravioli stuffed with grey mullet on a cream of fresh peas and grey mullet roe.
M.G. For the ultimate experience you really have to try the tasting menu.

 

 

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

 

V.C. Definitely pasta and desserts.
M.G. Spaghetti with tomato sauce.

 

 

Are you inspired by local ingredients or traditions?

 

V.C. Always. We try to use local products as much as possible. For example the grey mullet and the grey mullet roe both come from Monte Argentario [a peninsula off the southern Tuscan coast].
M.G. I’m constantly inspired by Tuscany’s incredible culinary tradition and all the outstanding products the region has to offer.

 

 

What’s been your proudest or most memorable moment during your career?

 

V.C. When I was awarded a second Michelin Star at Da Caino. And when we received our first Michelin star at Restaurant Winter Garden by Caino.
M.G. In 2005, when I did my first service alone [as head chef], in charge of an entire kitchen staff.

 

 

Which dish you’ve created are you most proud of?

 

V.C. It’s impossible to choose just one. My favorites are tortelli pasta with Cinta Senese [a type of pork], tortelli with cacio cheese and pears, and I always love cooking anything with pigeon, because for me it’s the best meat.
M.G. I’m very proud of my risotto with peas and squid.

 

 

What’s the best thing to eat in Florence?

 

V.C. Lampredotto, which is a traditional Florentine dish made using part of a cow’s stomach, boiled in a broth with tomato, onion, parsley and celery.
M.G. You can’t beat a Florentine steak.

 

 

If you could revisit any meal in your life, what would it be and why?

 

V.C. It has to be lasagne – I love it.
M.G. I’m a big fan of jerk chicken, a typical Jamaican dish. One day I would love to recreate it with a touch of Italian style.

 

 

What’s the secret to running a restaurant?

 

V.C. Never losing the passion you had at the beginning, constant research, and humility, which I’ve noticed seems to be decreasing.
M.G. I’m still trying to find out, but passion and constant dedication are without doubt the starting points for a successful restaurant.

 

 

When you were a child, what was your favorite type of food and do you still eat it now?

 

V.C. For me it was always pasta with butter and Parmesan cheese, but to be honest I don’t eat it very often these days.
M.G. I always loved dark chocolate. It’s one food I’ll never give up.

 

 

Which dish or meal most reminds you of home?

 

V.C. I’ve always had a nostalgia for foods that are derived from the cheese-making process. My parents were dairy farmers, so I always loved eating “cuculo”, which is the spun curd before it becomes cheese, and “scottino”, a combination of hot ricotta cheese, buttermilk and bread.
M.G. Sunday roast beef always makes me think of home.

 

Your address: The St. Regis Florence

 

Michele Griglio and Valeria Piccini have joined forces to create a menu of Tuscan dishes with a contemporary twist

 

 

Mare di champagne (sea of champagne)

 
 

 

Sella di lepre (saddle of hare)

 

ISSUE-7-FOOD-2_issue7

Kitchen Confidential

Having first started cooking at the age of 15, Egyptian-born chef Michael Mina made a name for himself at Aqua in San Francisco, from where he established – with tennis star Andre Agassi – an empire of 18 restaurants across America. Since being named the James Beard Rising Star Chef of the Year in 1997, he has won several awards, fronted a TV program and written an eponymous cookbook.

 

 

What’s your favorite dish to cook?

 

Anything cooked outdoors. At home, in northern California, I am blessed to have an outdoor kitchen in the garden with a wood-burning oven. Often, I’ll give guests a basket to pick vegetables from the garden, which we then cook over wood. I love things like fresh vegetables on pizza, or côte de boeuf cooked on the flames. I adore shellfish, too, particularly abalone from the Bay area, which I grill with lemon, egg-batter with brown butter or sauté, niçoise-style, with olives, capers and lemon.

 

 

What do you eat when you’re home alone?

 

Spaghetti with thinly sliced garlic, cooked nice and slow in olive oil with a hint of red chili and lemon.

 

 

Anything local you’ve been inspired by?

 

Greens that we don’t get anywhere else, exceptional seafood and wonderful tomatoes. My wife makes the most amazing Bloody Mary using them.

 

 

What’s the dish you’re most proud of?

 

A dish I made for my wife on our honeymoon in Hawaii. She wanted caviar, so I found some and served it to her in bed with warm potato cake, smoked salmon and eggs. It’s a dish I now serve in all our restaurants.

 

 

What’s been the most memorable moment of your career?

 

Winning the James Beard Award for Rising Star Chef in the United States. I was so proud, as it was my first award, and because there are so many young talented chefs. Another great moment was my son being accepted into the Culinary Institute of America.

 

 

Are there any foods that are overrated?

 

Anything that’s out of season. And beef that’s called “Kobi” or wagyu beef but isn’t. Real wagyu is one of the most amazing products there is, but the term can be used rather loosely.

 

 

Are there any particularly fine ingredients in California?

 

So many. Particularly good are sanddabs, which are like little sole. We fry them in a pan with a little oil and butter and serve them with lemon.

 

 

What do you like most about Dana Point?

 

The community, which is made up of arty surfers. They’re very social and love interacting with our staff, which makes the restaurant relaxed and fun.

 

 

If you could revisit any meal in your life, what would it be and why?

 

A dinner at Sushi Kanesaka in Tokyo, which was the most perfect meal I’ve ever had. The chef cooks for only four people at a time and everything he did was unbelievable. We had 28 courses, including several kinds of tuna, each of which had a different fat content, and spiny crabs that were cooked, taken out and mixed with their roe, then put back into the crab shell.

 

 

What’s the secret to running a restaurant?

 

Having balance; precise but engaging service; and connecting, making friends and building long-term relationships with each other and our clients. Having the right chef and the general manager is essential, too, as they are the mother and father of your new restaurant family.

 

 

What was your favorite food as a child?

 

Hamburgers, which I still love. But they have to be perfect. The bun (ideally potato) has to be toasted right. The meat has to be ground quite coarsely, then flattened just before it’s cooked, so it’s still full of juicy air pockets. Extras should be simple: I like a piece of cheese, ketchup, onion and pickle.

 

 

What meal most reminds you of home?

 

Kusheries, which my mother has made all my life. It’s a typical Middle Eastern dish, made with rice, lentils and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce with caramelized onions. It’s not something you can just whip up: the lentils and chickpeas need soaking overnight and the tomato sauce has to cook for a couple of hours. But it’s worth the effort because it’s so delicious.

 

Michelin-starred chef Michael Mina

 

 

 

Whole fried jidori chicken for two, one of Stonehill Tavern’s signature dishes

 

 

The restaurant’s imaginative tasting menu uses the freshest local ingredients

 

 

Big_Feature_Wolfgang_1060x560

Kitchen Confidential

Austrian-born chef and restaurateur Wolfgang Puck came to the US in 1973 and has since built an international culinary empire. The Michelin-starred chef, who caters for the Oscars and is the star of TV food shows, is also active in philanthropic endeavors through his charitable foundation.

 

How did your cookery career begin?

 

My mother was a professional chef, so from the age of about 13, I used to go with her to work; it was either that or learn to be a bricklayer or a mason with my father, and I hated that! I loved the pastry section at the restaurant my mother worked in. They made incredible Baked Alaska, and it’s where I tasted canned fruit for the first time. I had some pineapple and thought it was just amazing.

 

What sort of food did you eat as a family back home?

 

I grew up on a farm, so when my mother made soup, or a salad, she’d just go into the garden and pick what she needed. As soon as the first tomatoes were ripe we used to make delicious sandwiches on dark rye bread with butter, parsley and a little onion. It sounds so simple but when the ingredients are straight from the ground, it’s an amazing thing.

 

Your first job was working for the legendary chef Raymond Thuilier at his restaurant L’Oustau de Baumanière. What was that like?

 

Raymond was about 72, and he had this passion and love for ingredients that I’d never seen before. When I met Raymond I just thought, “Wow, I want to be like this guy. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life.” Famous people were coming in all the time, even the Queen of England and Picasso. When Peter O’Toole was making a movie in the area, he always used to eat lamb, well-done, with a Cartagena Pinot Noir, and we’d stay up chatting late into the night. Then I’d take him back to his room on my little motorbike; he used to drink quite a lot of whisky after dinner.

 

What’s the best meal you’ve ever had cooked for you?

 

One of the most interesting was recently at the Carolina restaurant at The St. Regis Punta Mita Resort in Mexico. The young local chef there, Jose Mesa Arroyave, cooked my wife and me the most amazing Mexican food ever. It was so beautifully presented and not what you’d expect: charred octopus on a crispy tortilla with a black bean purée, a deconstructed tortilla soup served in a spoon as an amuse-bouche, a quail taco and ceviche… I don’t often get surprised, but this was a revelation to me.

 

How would you describe your new Spago restaurant in Istanbul?

 

It’s in one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever been to. Every room has an amazing piece of art in it, and the restaurant itself is on the eighth floor with an incredible view. We have a big, beautiful terrace that takes up almost half the space. It’s not too formal, just cool and relaxed, and in the evenings it’s like one big party. We have a DJ at the bar and everyone goes from table to table. It’s great if you’ve just arrived in the city, because you can still sit by the bar and relax, soaking up the atmosphere.

 

How have you gone about planning the menu?

 

The very first thing I always do in a new place is to go to the farmers’ market and the fish market and see what ingredients are best in the area. I love to support the local suppliers and they have amazing fish in Istanbul – turbot, wild sea bass, shrimp – and the lamb is the best that you’ll find anywhere. We do an amazing Chinese-style dish with it where the lamb’s marinated in soy sauce, chilli flakes, mirin and spring onion, and then just grilled over a charcoal fire. Of course, if you still want our signature smoked salmon pizza, you’ll be able to order one here, too.

 

Any ingredients that you’re particularly fussy about?

 

I love proper chocolate, and I get that from Jean-Paul Hévin in Paris. I always have some in the freezer. I won’t touch cheap chocolate; it has to be 70 per cent cocoa and it has to have some flavor. And if I’m ever hungover, I have to have proper coffee. I’ve been into the kitchen of one of the fanciest hotels in Paris to show them how to make a cappuccino right. For $800 a room you deserve good coffee.

 

Who would you love to cook for?

 

Picasso, because I’d love to talk to him. Mozart, because maybe he could play the piano. And Roger Waters from Pink Floyd, because I love them. They’d have to enjoy food, though; there’s nothing more boring than cooking for somebody who doesn’t really enjoy great food and wine.

 

Your address: The St. Regis Istanbul

 

Wolfgang Puck in the kitchen

 

 Yuzu blueberry Baked Alaska

The terrace at Spago at The St. Regis Istanbul, which
serves Puck’s cutting-edge, farm-to-table cuisine

03_Hub_Big_Feature_1060x560

A Culinary Genius In Doha

The Scottish-born chef Gordon Ramsay originally set out to become a professional soccer player, switching to catering college at age 19 following a knee injury. He went on to train under chef Marco Pierre White before deciding to specialize in French cuisine, working alongside Albert Roux at Le Gavroche in London and Guy Savoy and Joël Robuchon in Paris. His first Michelin star came in 1997, when he was chef at Aubergine. When he was 33, his own venture, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, was awarded three Michelin stars. Today, his ever-growing chain of restaurants stretches from Los Angeles and New York to Paris and Hong Kong, and he continues to appear on television series such as Kitchen Nightmares and MasterChef. The chef launched two restaurants in 2012 at The St. Regis Doha: Opal by Gordon Ramsay, which serves classic western dishes in a bistro-style environment, and a fine-dining space, Gordon Ramsay Restaurant.
 
Which dish do you most enjoy cooking?
 
I love cooking all sorts; what I make depends on what mood I’m in and how long I want to spend in the kitchen. In my recent TV cooking series Ultimate Home Cooking, it was all about making tasty food at home: nothing too fancy, but great fish dishes, pies, desserts.

 

Is there anything you’d rather buy than make?
 
No. Cooking your own food is always a better and healthier option. I’m a big believer in cooking at home with the family. My kids do a lot of the cooking in the house and it’s much more enjoyable.

 

What do you eat when you’re home alone?
 
Something quick and simple, such as a good-quality steak with salad and a homemade dressing. I always like to see what’s in the cupboard: you’d be surprised what you can make with just a few staple ingredients.

 

What would you order from the menu at The St. Regis Doha?
 
From Gordon Ramsay Restaurant, I would choose the carpaccio of Scottish scallops. At Opal, the lamb burger with mint is one of my favorites, although I try different dishes every time I am there. I always ask the chef to create mini versions of dishes on the menu so I can sample all of them.

 

How do the dishes there differ from your other restaurants?
 
Opal is very similar to Bread Street Kitchen in London, and obviously Gordon Ramsay Restaurant is inspired by my three-Michelin-starred flagship restaurant. However, we do make changes to reference the local culture, the flavors that are popular in the region, and the fresh ingredients that we can get.

 

When you were a child, what was your favorite food?
 
Eggs Benedict. I’ve always loved having it in the morning; it’s all about the hollandaise sauce.

 

Which meal most reminds you of home?
 
Beef Wellington, which has become one of my signature dishes. It’s very versatile: you can change what meat you use (I recently used lamb) as well as the spices and secondary ingredients.

 

Which is the dish you’re most proud of?
 
King crab tortellini with lemongrass and tomato vinaigrette. It is simple and fresh and always impresses.

 

What’s been the most memorable moment of your career?
 
Getting the first Michelin star for Restaurant Gordon Ramsay (and of course getting three a few years later). But every time I’ve opened a restaurant it has been a really proud moment. I now have 25 globally and 13 in London, and there’s more to come. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have my restaurant business, TV career and wonderful family.

 

Are there any foods that you think are overrated?
 
No, although anything that is processed or poor quality is never good in my book. I grew up in a household with very little money so we ate some horrible food – spam. That definitely isn’t something I’d eat now.

 

What do you enjoy most about Doha?
 
The people. They have always been very friendly and extremely professional.

 

If you could revisit a meal that you’ve had in the past, what would it be?
 
I’m very lucky in that I eat out a lot and get to experience lots of different styles, concepts and cultures. The most recent amazing meal I’ve had was at Quique Dacosta in Spain. I was in the area filming for television and found myself in a terrible restaurant. We wanted to show them what amazing service was, so I took them to Quique Dacosta; it was fantastic.

 

What’s the secret to running a restaurant really well?
 
You have to have a great team. I definitely do, and when I’m asked who does the cooking when I’m not there, I say it’s the same people as when I am there. To run a restaurant, and certainly to be a chef, you have to have passion for what you do, work hard and persevere.
 
Your address: The St. Regis Doha


 

 

 

 

Ramsay’s repertoire
 
Bleu lobster salad, croquant of celeriac and apple
with homardine sauce

Terrine of duck foie gras, dried apricots and almonds,
strawberry vinaigrette

Buttered truffle and guinea fowl with sweet potato purée,
chestnuts and mushroom mix

 

Issue 2 - The Spice of Life - Atul Kochhar - Image 1

The Spice of Life

The first Indian chef ever to receive a Michelin star, in 2001, Atul Kochhar is famed for bringing his country’s cuisine to the forefront of fine dining. His simple, elegant take on traditional dishes has made Benares, his original restaurant in London’s Mayfair, known across the world, and he’s had a series of equally successful ventures since. Growing up in Jamshedpur in East India, all of Kochhar’s menus focus on fresh, local ingredients, of the kind that his father used to take him to source when he was younger. His new restaurant, Simply India, at The St. Regis Mauritius Resort, serves tandoori specialities and Goan delicacies in a colonial-inspired setting.

 

What’s your earliest food memory?
 
Going to the local market with my father in India. He was a caterer, and sourcing fresh local produce was important to him. The colors and smells were so vibrant and exciting. I would always look forward to our trips together.

 

What is the dish your mother used to make that you still love?
 
Rogan josh. It’s a dish I’ve had on my menus many times, although my mother makes it best. It’s a classic Indian dish with lamb and lots of spices, such as cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, plus ginger, tomato paste, crushed almonds and yoghurt. It’s something my whole family used to enjoy together around the dinner table, so it has a sense of nostalgia for me as well.

 

Do you have a trademark dish?
 
I have a couple. But one of my favorites is my chicken tikka pie with wild berry chutney. It’s made with a great light pastry shell and filled with chicken tikka. We then use seasonal wild berries to make a sweet and savory compôte.

 

How would you describe your cooking?
 
Modern Indian. It’s a combination of the recipes and cooking techniques from my upbringing, with twists I’ve picked up along the way. I also adapt traditional Indian recipes to incorporate seasonal ingredients of other countries.

 

Who taught you to cook?
 
Both my parents. I have so many memories of my mother in the kitchen, cooking and showing me how to prepare dishes. However, my father taught me everything I know about the quality of fresh local ingredients.

 

Which chef has had the most influence on you?
 
Albert Roux [the French-born co-founder of London restaurant Le Gavroche, whose first job was as cook for Nancy Astor]. His passion and skill is so admirable, and he has been a mentor to me over the years.

 

What are the most important three ingredients to have in your store cupboard?
 
Spices! My favourites are coriander, cinnamon and cloves.

 

What’s your favourite late-night snack?
 
I hate to say it, but just simple cheese on toast. After a full day of tasting, I like to give my palate a break.

 

Why do you think Indian food is so popular worldwide?
 
It’s a very diverse cuisine, and I think the complexity of the ingredients and the fresh spices make it really well liked. Indian food has gained an incredible amount of popularity in the past ten years. When I first arrived in London in 1994, things were very different.

 

What do you think are the global trends in restaurant cuisine?
 
I believe Korean food will become very popular this year because it is bursting with bold flavors, and is pretty nutritious to boot. As always though, locality and seasonality needs to remain constant over trends, which change so quickly.

 

How does the food at your new Simply India restaurant at The St. Regis Mauritius Resort differ from what you serve at Benares in London?
 
There’s more seafood on the menu because I try to source everything locally. We do a delicious starter of lasooni scallops, with garlic, cauliflower purée and piccalilli. And there’s a wonderful main course of samundri do pyaaza – squid, scallops, prawns and fish, all cooked with tangy onions.

 

What’s your signature dish at Simply India?
 
Konju moille. It’s a beautiful dish made with Madagascan lobster, cooked with coconut and curry leaf. It’s very succulent.

 

What local ingredients do you use at Simply India?
 
The Madagascan lobster is great, and we use a lot of local coconut oil and coconut milk. The variety of seafood on offer in Mauritius is incredible.

 

Where is your favourite restaurant in the world?
 
D.O.M. in São Paolo, Brazil. It serves up all manner of exciting ingredients from the Amazon rainforest, such as cambuca fruit, manioc root and tucupi juice, which are so exotic. But I love the markets in Jamshedpur in India where I grew up, because that’s where my culinary journey first started.

 

Do you ever dream about cooking?
 
Yes, I think it would be hard not to when it’s on your mind all the time.

 

What would you have for your last supper?
 
A simple vegetarian curry with fresh naan, eaten with all of my family.

 

Which person, living or dead, would you love to cook for?
 
My father.

 

Your address: The St. Regis Mauritius Resort

Gary Rhodes: British Classic - Portrait

British Classic

Gary Rhodes, OBE, made a name for himself in the early Nineties, bringing traditional British classics such as braised oxtail, fish cakes and bread and butter pudding into the realm of fine dining. He earned his first Michelin star as head chef at the Greenhouse restaurant in London’s Mayfair in 1996, and opened his own restaurants, City Rhodes and Rhodes in the Square, a year later. He has since launched an array of restaurants around the world, and traveled far and wide to present such TV shows as Masterchef USA and Rhodes Across China. His newest venture is Rhodes 44 at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi.
 
What’s your earliest food memory?
 
I’ll always remember the first dessert I made when I was about 13. It was a steamed lemon sponge with lemon sauce, and I’ll never forget turning it out in front of everyone at Sunday lunch. I just sat there admiring the faces around the table as this lovely thick lemon sauce dribbled down the sponge. I thought to myself then, “I want to be a cook.”
 
Who taught you to cook?
 
My mother was really accomplished in the kitchen, and I was one of those children who wanted to help out a lot. Even today I still don’t believe I can match her lasagne. Peter Barratt, one of my tutors at catering college, was a genius, though – anyone who was taught by that man would say he was an amazing chef.
 
What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten?
 
Guy Savoy in Paris makes an incredibly creamy globe artichoke soup, with shavings of black truffle and Parmesan cheese, served with truffle brioche buns that are lightly toasted and spread with melted truffle butter. It makes me go weak at the knees. I’ve been to his restaurant six times to eat it.
 
What do you like to cook at home?
 
When I’m working in a restaurant I taste all the time, so by the time I get home I’m sick of the sight of the stove. People come over to our house expecting a big Michelin-star meal, but I’m not that kind of guy. I’ll just do a bit of fish, a bit of risotto and a big platter of cheese. Fish is the only thing I insist on cooking at home because I am fussy. Otherwise my wife, who I met at catering college, does most of the cooking. Try as I might I cannot match her roast. She manages to do the meat and all the trimmings such as cauliflower cheese, runner beans, carrots, gravy and lovely Yorkshire puddings all by herself – I’d need four other cooks with me.

What do you find most rewarding about being a chef?
 
You never stop learning. If people give me advice on our Arabic dishes, for example, for which there will be any number of recipes from all over the Middle East, and I think that those comments will improve things, I will definitely make that change. I never, ever want to stop cooking – it’s a continuing education and it keeps your mind alive.
 
What’s your favourite food?
 
I’ve always loved cheese, especially gorgonzola or a really runny brie de Meaux with truffles running through it. Years ago my wife Jennie wouldn’t touch cheese, and now we’ll both sit there together, munching into cheeses and tucking into a good bottle of wine. I find that quite romantic sometimes, just sitting, eating and chatting, without any pressure.
 
What style of food are you serving at Rhodes 44?
 
I wanted to do great British classics – my braised oxtail with mashed potato has been unbelievably well received – but at the same time venture into some local Arabic dishes, too. For afternoon tea we’re doing little pecan pies, Victoria sponges, scones with clotted cream and jam, and tiny quail’s-egg sandwiches. I’ve also done my own interpretation of a mezze platter, which has been very popular. We’ve made our own baba ghanoush, our own falafel with a tiny bit of melting feta cheese in the middle… Just as my scallops with a devilled sauce were on the menu in London for ten years, I’d like to think that our mezze platter would last a lifetime with us here.
 
Is there anything you would never put on the menu?
 
Tripe. I cannot abide it.
 
How do you find inspiration for your new dishes?
 
Sometimes I just wake up in the middle of the night and there’s a new creation in my mind. I’ll tell my wife, and she usually says, “Give it a go.” But she’ll also tell me if it sounds awful.
 
Who would be at your last supper?
 
Marilyn Monroe – she was stunning. Bill Clinton is a man I’ve always wanted to meet, too, and Martin Luther King would have to be there. Also Stevie Wonder. Oh, and I’m a massive Manchester United fan, so Sir Alex Ferguson [the legendary former manager] should definitely be invited.
 
Your address: The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

A corner of England in the Middle East 
The tea lounge at The St. Regis Abu Dhabi,
where guests can indulge in anything from quail’s-egg
sandwiches to Rhodes’s interpretation of a mezze platter

 

JohnDeLuciefeatured

Made in Manhattan

A born-and-bred New Yorker, John DeLucie was a late starter in the culinary world, discovering his calling at the age of 29. Since then, he has become a major figure on New York’s restaurant scene, making his name as the executive chef and partner of the Waverly Inn, the Greenwich Village restaurant that became the ultimate hangout for the city’s glitterati. DeLucie is now proprietor and executive chef of the Lion, Bill’s Food & Drink and Crown, three of Manhattan’s most celebrated restaurants. His latest project has been to reimagine the culinary offering at the refurbished King Cole Bar & Salon at The St. Regis New York.
 
What’s your earliest food memory?
 
When I was a child we lived with my grandparents, who were Italian immigrants, and one of my earliest memories is of being in the kitchen with my grandmother. My grandfather sold fruit and vegetables, and he would bring home any produce that didn’t sell that day. It was grandma’s job to make dinner with it. So it could be things like dandelion greens or broccoli rabe – food that was pretty unusual in America at that time. I remember having dinner at a friend’s house in my teens and eating iceberg lettuce. I didn’t even know what that was.
 
What was the first thing you ever cooked?
 
Ditalini with tomato and celery leaves and chickpeas – basically pasta fagioli. I’d seen my mother make it a thousand times and one day when I was about 13 I thought, “I want to do that.” I remember painstakingly taking the delicate light-colored leaves from inside the celery, not the big overgrown darker leaves – just like I’d seen my mother do.
 
Who taught you to cook?
 
My mother, my aunts and grandmothers were all instrumental. My dad had 11 siblings and my mom had four brothers and sisters, so every Sunday we would gather somewhere with a lot of people. There was always tomato sauce and pasta or ravioli and some kind of meat. It was a very food-oriented family.
 
What’s your favourite Italian-American dish?
 
Veal milanese. I just love a pounded veal cutlet drenched in egg and breadcrumbs and pan-fried. It’s the most delicious thing in the world.
 
What made you become a chef?
 
I had a lot of different jobs after college. I was a musician. I sold advertising, I represented fashion photographers, I worked as a headhunter in the insurance-brokerage industry. Around the time I was 29 I realized I wanted to cook for a living, so I enrolled on a masterchef class at the New School, and it turned out I had some aptitude. When the course finished I got a job making salads in a very busy restaurant on Third Avenue.
 
Did you ever have any cooking disasters?
 
One of my first jobs was at Dean & DeLuca. They asked me to make a potato salad and I got so excited that I forgot one vital ingredient – the potatoes.
 
How would you describe the menu you’ve created at the King Cole Bar & Salon at The St. Regis New York?
 
Over the years there have been some amazing chefs at The St. Regis New York, like Gray Kunz, Christian Delouvrier and Alain Ducasse. So when it came to creating the menu, we felt it had to be a real departure from the past. We took a simple approach: super-accessible dishes such as trout wrapped in prosciutto and grilled merguez. We were thinking about the modern traveler who would relish the splendor of the place but not want to get bogged down by food that was too traditional or too complex.
 
Where’s the best city in the world for food at the moment?
 
There are so many hotspots – Spain, Italy, the Nordic countries – but Brooklyn is really interesting right now. It’s a very exciting time. Trend-wise, vegetables are pretty hot – dishes such as carrots wellington and parsnip steaks. I think it’s great that we’re paying more attention to stuff that’s growing.
 
What’s your ultimate comfort food?
 
A great pizza with a delicious chewy crust – there’s nothing better. I like it best with just tomatoes and chilli and oregano.
 
What’s the most memorable thing you’ve ever eaten?
 
I stumbled upon a bakery in Naples with an old pizza oven that had been there for centuries. They were making flatbread, so we bought some, along with some buffalo mozzarella and a bottle of wine, and we sat in the park. It was just glorious – an incredible sensory experience.
 
If you could fly off right now and eat at any restaurant in the world,
where would it be?

 
Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant in Tokyo. Simple, fresh, honest – that’s the kind of
food I like.
 
Your address: The St. Regis New York


 
 

"Fish is my favorite dish."
Grand Royal Seafood Platter
at the King Cole Bar & Salon