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Plating food that tells a story


One of England’s top Indian chefs Stephen Gomes, talks about being a gastro-physicist at heart, his passion for food and his plans for India and more.

Chef Stephen Gomes wears many hats. One of England’s top Indian chefs is just one of many titles that go with his name. From being dubbed the Lady Gaga of Indians to being compared to British celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal — it’s a tall order. How does he manage to sport all of them and yet keep his head on his shoulders? We caught him when he was in the city for the launch of Chemistry 101, a new gastro pub, which he is heading.

Over the years, you seem to have earned different titles. While some call you ‘Lady Gaga of Indians’ others go as far as to liken you to Heston Blumenthal. Do these titles really describe you and the kind of food you cook?

To be honest, when I started off it was fun. And Heston is a legend. I do a lot of Indian food and a lot of molecular gastronomy but I am not clearly Heston. More Lady Gaga and Willy Wonka because my food is like that — interactive, fun, magical and has a story of its own.

Who is your inspiration?

My father plays an important role in my life and is my true inspiration. He has been a chef all his life and I look up to him. I also draw inspiration from my childhood and from comics by Marvel and DC. I think being a chef has always been in my genes.

When you are making/creating a dish, what is it that goes on in your head?

I work backwards. I work on flavours. I start with the finished product first, and then deconstruct it. For example, if I am working with Pork Vindaloo, I would take the pork away put it in liquid nitrogen just to see what happens and how it tastes. I would take the gravy and make something else out of it. I have experimented with Vindaloo before and have made an ice cream Vindaloo. So what I do is cook traditional flavours with different cooking appliances and methods, and yet retain the original flavours.

Have any of your creations left you speechless because it turned out better than what you had imagined?

Yes, just the other day, I was in the lab working on the Never Ending Story. It’s actually a dish similar to Kathi rolls served with a pomegranate and chilli sauce. And I man-aged to create the sauce using a kitchen appliance and give it the effect of a floating lava.

Any plans to bring Moksh, your Indian restaurant in the UK to India?

Moksh is very close to my heart and I think if anyone wants to experience it, they will have to make a trip to the UK. However, I am planning something different in India.

What is your favourite global cuisine and Indian cuisine or dish?

I love French food, and am partial to Indian street food.

How responsive has the Indian palate been to your kind of food?

People in India are now more open and adventurous to trying something new. Globally, too Indians are travelling a lot and are exposed to different cuisines.

Source: DNA
(Photo: moksh.co.uk)

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