Fresh food cooked with love. That’s the formula A D Singh and chefs Evan Gwynne and Max Orlati are recreating at Olive, finds Rishi Majumder
Photographer: Shriya Patil
The Khar outlet’s menu is set for a more Italian hue, from Wednesday. To find out why, we eavesdrop on Olive’s A D Singh, as he talks shop with Executive Chef Evan Gwynne and Chef de Cuisine Italiano Max Orlati.
SINGH: We’re adding authentic Italian dishes at just the right time. Food trends are shifting towards originality. ORLATI: Well, with good reason. I know fusion was the fashion. But why create a mish-mash, when you can bring out the flavour of just two ingredients? That’s what Italian cooking is: concentrate on fewer ingredients, but bring them out completely. What’s present in America and England is a bastardisation of Italian cuisine. Just anything with garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and Balsamic vinegar isn’t Italian cuisine. GWYNNE: The reason authentic food’s come to the forefront is because people are more welltravelled and understand food better. A few years ago, people wouldn’t eat pizza without tomato sauce (laughs). If I served a North African lamb kebab or Moroccan chicken, they felt it was like dhaba food!
SINGH: For that matter, even in the west, Asian cuisine is picking up. London’s Bombay Brasserie has Michelin stars. And Italian food’s picked up here… (Looking at Orlati) Why do you think that’s so?
ORLATI: Well Italian and Indian food habits are remarkably similar. Both people order together and share the dishes—like a pizza or curry—rather than having one dish each. But I think Italian food’s losing out, because it’s so simple.
GWYNNE: People don’t want to dine out on something homely. They don’t understand, that is what’s authentic.
ORLATI: Let me ask you: who makes the best food—the best dal or parathas? Mom! That’s another food preference Italians and Indians share. Which is why authentic cuisine will always be held dear. It’s about fresh food cooked just right, with care and love. And you know it’s original because it’s been preserved for generations. What can beat that? We need to preserve it.
GWYNNE: Unfortunately, with fusion, most chefs use flavours that war with each other, so they cancel each other out. What we need is a marriage of flavours.
ORLATI: And you simply can’t disrespect the original dish.
GWYNNE: Exactly. So there are two rules of fusion. One, always respect the classics. Two, be prepared to go ‘back to the drawing board’, no matter how ‘great’ a chef you are. That kept in mind, you can change the mindset of the original dish.
ORLATI: What do you mean?
GWYNNE: Well, take British chef Heston Blumenthal, who’s also a chemistry graduate. This guy makes things that are truly bizarre. He breaks down ingredients into component elements. And checks to see which ones have at least three elements in common. Then he fuses them. So basil and coffee have nothing in common. But he fuses blue cheese and chocolate, or bacon and eggs ice-cream!
SINGH: I guess that shows that, while authenticity is important, we should also push our boundaries.
This article first appeared in Mumbai Mirror, Times Of India: http://alturl.com/vkr5