8 Questions With : Akshay Nayyar, Corporate Chef at Sanjeev Kapoor Restaurants Pvt. Ltd.
Updated on: 13 Jun 2016
Is Indian food not trendy enough for Instagram? Has dining out at an Indian restaurant been relegated to family outings largely? And where in Bengaluru can one find North Indian food that's not a greasy, spice-laden affair leading to heartburn?
These questions appeared to be plaguing Akshay Nayyar, a Delhi-bred, Dubai-based chef who has recently opened Kopper Kadai restaurant in Koramangala. Lately, there's been this movement of sorts in the Indian culinary scene whereby restaurants are increasingly trying to contemporise Indian food. A good time then for Nayyar to make his foray into Bengaluru - tapping this revival of interest in Indian khana with a twist.
To give the much-lauded young chef (he was just awarded Most Promising Chef at the World Brands Summit 2016, Dubai, by the director of PHD Chambers of Commerce, Govt. of India) due credit, he has put as much thought into plating as creating signature dishes for Kopper Kadai. For instance, their bestseller, the Ganna Chicken (perhaps, inspired by the Asian lemongrass chicken skewers) features minced chicken kebabs on sticks of marinated sugarcane - a dish that caught Masterchef Australia judge Matt Preston's attention on a recent visit to the city. But what's more endearing, is Nayyar's use of old family recipes and the stories that come with each dish. Speaking to Bangalore Mirror about his quick yet challenging rise through the culinary ranks, the 28-year-old chef, TV host and cookbook author reveals his recipe for success.
At 28, you have helmed Sanjeev Kapoor's Signature restaurant and Marco Pierre White's Titanic for a five-star hotel in Dubai. What was the experience like working with big names in the industry?
It was a great learning experience and huge responsibility. These were premium restaurants with an average cover charge of $60 to $80. A lot of time went into research and consulting with these chefs to develop the menu. My earlier training stint at Ananda in the Himalayas (the luxury spa resort) exposed me to authentic world cuisine as they had guests from the world over staying there and you couldn't get away with a shoddy job. They served almost eight cuisines at Ananda.
Today, being a chef is considered glamorous. But when you got into hotel management in 2005, what was it like?