Big dreams are always in the pipeline, for all of us, always. But when you know that they are within reach, well, that’s a different picture altogether. Entrepreneur-restaurateur Rohini Dey surely knows how it feels. An ex-World Banker, former McKinsey consultant, a PhD and ultimately the owner of Vermilion — the widely acclaimed restaurants based in New York and Chicago, Dey is all about dreaming big. The jaw dropping moment is when she confesses, “As a student, in the US, I couldn’t even make rice.”
Birth of a cuisine
She recalls the time when she shifted to the US and restaurants were either this or that. ‘This’ was low-end “tailored Indian” restaurants that were “atypical” and quite a cliche. On the other hand, ‘that’ was almost a repulsive exclamation as the food despite being upscale was pretty much “timid and wasted out”. Indian-Latin was scintillatingly new Dey brought to the table, evoking extreme emotions.
The moment one tucked into a Tandoori Skirt Steak, Blue Corn Crusted Scallops or a Brazilian Seafood Stew, the international critics were totally won over. Dey feels that after translating her food dream for ten successful years, it has become a “highly visible platform” and her India talent hunt is “in a way…like coming back”.
Dreams can come true
The big meaty prize is the opportunity to head her distinguished restaurants or be part of the kitchen depending on the calibre. For the promising, permanent residency can be in the offing, too. The basic criteria includes experience of being a sous chef for at least three years with a formal degree in the culinary arts. The clinchers are — an impressive resume, brief essay on the significance of this opportunity and an Indian-Latin recipe.
Cook to impress
Along with Dey the panel involves Shabana Azmi, Sharmila Tagore, Nikhil Chib (Busaba), Vikas Khanna (the Michelin-starred chef) and many more to be revealed. Looking forward to the cook-offs that will happen in Delhi (April 30) and Mumbai (April 23), once the ten candidates are selected, the cooks would be even interviewed by Dey herself. A passionate woman rights’ supporter, she says, “I am strongly encouraging women to apply” and break the norm of this being a “hugely male-dominated industry. I am enthused and optimisitic about how it will turn out,” she signs off.