B Swaminathan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Pradeep Rao is the Executive Sous Chef at Conrad Bangalore, the second luxury hotel in the Hilton portfolio in India. Chef Pradeep Rao strongly believes that every dish should tell the story behind it, while keeping it simple without much involvement of molecular gastronomy. Pradeep believes that cooking is an art and something that you learn every day. His version of a perfect meal is a simple home-style meal cooked with a lot of flavours. His food philosophy is that even if it is a simple meal of dal and rice when cooked with the right flavours can be a real winner. In an exclusive chat with Chef Bharath, he shares on the latest trends among eating habits. Edited excerpts.
Which are the most important occupational issues faced by Indian Chefs in terms of delivering quality food?
Some of the best equipment that we use are imported, and maintaining them in our day-to-day operations is tough. Getting any repairs/ services to the equipment is a challenge that we face. The other challenge we face is that some of the English vegetables are not readily available in the market.
According to you, what the ways, the key trends you notice in the food consumption factors among the eaters in recent days?
Off late, the trend of food consumption has changed a lot. There are a lot of people who are health-conscious and count the calories they consume. Portion sizes in restaurants have reduced as it is what people prefer these days.
What are the unique aspects of your kitchen and what are the efforts you take to ensure the guest is consuming quality food.
We believe in using a lot of fresh produce in our kitchens. We cook food in smaller quantities so that the guest gets freshly cooked food on the table. For Eg: we get the freshest of seafood (even though we are not by the coast) for our Sunday brunch flown in a day prior to the brunch. We are very particular about our ingredients.
How you see the constant fluctuation of the price of food materials and how are you ensuring it does not impact the quality of the food?
The market prices vary from season to season. There are a few ingredients we can’t compromise on knowing the fact that they are the basis of any dish. Again when we design our buffet menu we see what is the best produce available in the market as per season and procure that to convert them into dishes on our buffet
What are the top qualities you expect from a food product company while using it for your dishes?
As mentioned before the freshest ingredients are what we believe in. Again we try our best to avoid the canned produce for giving a better quality to our guest. But there are few dishes in European cuisine where we have to use them. For example, a Canned Italian tomato is something you will find in hotels. We do quality check comparison with different brands and use the best to get the best.
What are the plans you have? In terms of new menu items?
Keep the flavours simple and portion sizes small. Also, plan a section in the menu where you have healthy dishes made out of millets and other healthy ingredients