Meet Rishim Sachdeva, new chef at Olive Bar & Kitchen, ready to spice things up with an edgy menu. He tells Dhara Vora about the new star attractions
What's the key to reinvent an already popular menu?
For me, it was to understand the flavours and textures that Olive's loyal patrons were already used to, and had come to expect and love during a meal with us. Another thing that was important was to take stock of the produce and proteins that diners enjoy the most, and ensure that they remain on the menu. For example, I found that diners really like chicken dishes, so, I came up with the Roast Chicken main course. It features bacon bits and potato roesti which make it a hearty, comforting dish. However, it is spiced with curry powder, which balances the slight bitterness of the kale - new flavours on an old favourite, which jazz up the dish while not alienating it from the diner.
Tell us a bit about the plan for the new menu? What will we see? Please name a few dishes which you think will be the stars?
I have changed around 60% of the menu, while still retaining traditional favourites such as the beloved wood-fire oven pizzas, and pasta dishes. Guests can expect a plethora of seasonal flavours, as I will be focusing a lot on fresh and local ingredients. However, I'm also a big fan of preserving through fermenting and pickling - so for example, the strawberry vinaigrette that I serve on the Strawberry and Kale House Salad will still be available once strawberry season is over, after a few months' time. The keywords for my new menu are: healthy, fresh and light. Each dish follows this mantra.
What are the ingredients that you will be focussing on?
I will focus on mostly local ingredients, as I don't believe that it's sustainable to import everything, and the prices are also not justified. The only things we are currently importing are our salmon (Scottish) and the lamb (New Zealand). Otherwise, our produce is all local. I work very closely with our suppliers and have a wide, trusted network around the country. I'm especially enjoying working with GMO-free produce as much as possible. Every two weeks, I make a trip to the markets to scope the scene and see what's new and exciting.
European food is a very broad term. In what way will you make most of this cuisine and how will you pick the dishes for the menu?
I totally agree that the term 'European food' is too broad. In fact, these days I personally believe that all cuisines today feature inspirations and ingredients from different parts of the world - global flavours have crossed all boundaries. My food is therefore Mediterranean, to respect the strong foundation behind Olive's culinary philosophy, while incorporating elements from my experiences in London. I'm also drawing on my Indian roots and my knowledge of Indian cooking - for example, the preserving process is inherently Indian - yogurt is fermented, and Indian households have been pickling fruits and vegetables for centuries. That's where my love for preserving stems from.