Thirty three year-old Pooja Raheja is admittedly emotional about food, and doesn’t hide it. In fact, she’s far from it —she wouldn’t have co-founded a culinary design studio if she were not dead serious about “marrying food and design.”
Raheja and her husband, 34 year-old Neeraj Sharda, launched Eat Drink Design on October 24 this year to introduce the concept of design in food. The couple owned Le Chocolat at Bandra before Raheja went on to work on events in New York in 2010. “Many of us are well-exposed to different cultures and cuisines, but when it comes to food design and presentation, we are still stuck with the same, foods served in standard dishes. The type of parties have changed — there are marriage showers, for instance — but we present food in the same way. There is a disconnect between the ethos and the look of the food served.”
Through her catering service, Raheja says she plans to change the way guests cook and serve food. For instance, for a recent card party during Diwali, Raheja catered to a client who was served food on platters with images of cards and jokes printed on them. “The colour of the food was in sync with the colours of the playing cards,” says Raheja.
With Eat Drink Design, Raheja takes orders for cakes, brownies, desserts and entrées such as thai curry, moroccan curry, fish and chips etc. “We also apply molecular gastronomy to some dishes, which, in layman’s terms, means understanding food and food ingredients in greater scientific detail and applying that understanding to create surprises in food.
We take this progressive approach to cooking and transform day to day ingredients to give them unusual and surprising textures, play with their serving temperatures, etc, but at the same time ensure that food tastes great.
For instance, in a Black Forest Cake, the cake consists of a light but warm vanilla sponge, paired with cherry coulis encapsulated in nothing but itself, creamy chocolate — flash frozen using liquid nitrogen, and edible chocolate soil to represent the traditional chocolate flakes that we see over a conventional black forest cake.” At a party, Raheja says, she served caramel popcorn as a drink in test tubes. For those who prefer a smaller affair than having a chef come home and cook and serve, Raheja also serves only the food. Instructions to store and serve the food the right way follow.
Eat Drink Design also designs food hampers for Christmas, New Year, brides-to-be, mothers-to-be and, believe it or not, even for those who are feeling blue. “While the brides and grooms get foods with ingredients which have aphrodisiacs, the hampers for those who are just feeling down include ice cream, cookies and tiramisu pots. A chick-flick is thrown in, too,” smiles Raheja. She adds that hampers are customised according to the client’s preferences. So if you’re feeling blue but chocolate isn’t your thing, ask for cheese. You’ll get it.