Come April and The Mad Hatter will open its doors to Mumbai's foodies. The sophisticated Indian fine dine in Juhu is the brainchild of city-born chef Stephen Gomes, considered as the UK's top Indian chef
Across the oceans, and over a telephonic conversation, the excitement in chef Stephen Gomes' (41) voice is unmistakable. The multiple award-winning chef grew up in Four Bungalows and owns the popular Indian restaurant Moksh in Cardiff, UK, and is all set to start a fine dine in Juhu.
Chef Stephen Gomes
Titled The Mad Hatter, the eatery will feature dishes with Gomes' signature mix of Ayurveda, molecular gastronomy and science of spices. The menu comprises authentic Indian dishes created using innovative techniques that push the boundaries of traditional cooking.
Dishes like Hyderabadi Mince Cupcake (a take on the Shepherd's Pie), Vodka Dosa with Malibu Ice Cream, Dal Makhani served with Dal Makhani Ice Cream and Edible perfumes feature on the menu. There's also the chef's special: Fog Over Borivali Forest, a dish that is prepared using smoke guns and featuring sounds of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which can be heard using ear plugs through speakers under the table. Gomes plans to stick to local produce and recreate classics with an Indian aesthetic.
Hyderabadi Mince Cupcake
He explains his vision, “Molecular gastronomy is often criticised for not having 'soul'. I term the food I dish up as 'funky food' or food with funk. It's wacky and contains inputs from every cuisine.”
The chef admits that winning awards might be easy but maintaining the reputation is tough: “Innovation is the key, and to not overdo it.” In his kitchen, Gomes works with a lot of appliances and with liquid nitrogen, carbon dioxide and spices to deconstruct various dishes. His Mumbai eatery will also have a chef's table where Gomes will cook at the table.
Einstein In India
Gomes belongs to a family of chefs and is the fourth generation to pursue the craft. His father was an Executive Chef at Sun-N-Sand, his grandfather was a chef on board a battleship during World War II while his great-grandfather was Head Chef at the Eastern Shipping Company during the Raj.
Naturally, the bar is set high. Gomes recounts an anecdote where he called his father to share the news that he was awarded the title of 'Best UK Indian Chef' and asked him to come down. His father replied saying that he would visit only when Gomes was awarded the title of the 'Best UK Chef'. “It was never an easy journey,” he admits, adding that his mother was the biggest chef as she would cook for a family of chefs.
A larger aim, he says, is to preserve childhood memories through his creations. That inspired dishes like the Khari Biscuit Ice Cream, a tribute to the ubiquitous teatime snack. Ayurveda also has a significant place in his preparations. “I consult with doctors to get the dishes right. The meals include Tulsi Pani to cleanse the palate and it will be a spiritual experience,” he shares.
Gomes admits that he decided to open The Mad Hatter in Mumbai as his heart still beats for the city, and for its eateries like Ashok Vada Pav near Dadar's Kirti College. “The idea is to give back to the city,” he sums up.
The Mad Hatter will open in April in Juhu.