Mumbai: When 148 chefs around the world swap recipes

Updated: 05 December, 2019 08:16 IST | Phorum Dalal | Mumbai

Two Mumbai restaurants, The Bombay Canteen and The Masque take part in Gelinaz

Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque
Chef Prateek Sadhu of Masque

Two dinners in the city on Tuesday night – one led by chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen and the other at Masque led by chef Prateek Sadhu – were part of a
global food phenomena called Gelinaz.

In its tenth year, the initiative led by Lyon-based Italian food writer and impresario Andrea Petr brought together 148 chefs from across the globe to cook a meal in their respective restaurant kitchens but with a recipe swap. Each chef contributed an eight-course menu (called matrix) which was then put in a great shuffle. Each chef received an unknown menu, in the first week of November, as a starting point to be served at their own restaurant "without leaving home".

Chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen
Chef Thomas Zacharias of The Bombay Canteen

Hong Kong's Tosca di Angelo menu at Masque
When mid-day spoke to Sadhu on the morning after the service, he said, "We cooked over hip hop music and had a lot of fun. I only came to know a few hours before the service that we were serving recipes from 1-Michelin star Tosca Di Angelo in Hong Kong. The restaurant does modern Italian food with an Asian fusion," says Sadhu. His contributing menu had pani puri, mom's rogan josh, Katlam bread and mahuva dessert Pondicherry chocolate. Turns out, it went to AT, a restaurant led by Atsushi Tanaka in Paris.

"A menu is 60 per cent a chef's mind, so I had to make sure that my reimagining of it did not disrespect the recipe. For example, my first course was a lobster salad with peach jus, mustard sauce and caviar. I created it on a paper-thin mathri base, and used kasundi instead of mustard and caviar from Iran that a friend recently brought for me. Over all, it was a lot of learning, and ideas exchange," says Sadhu.

The Laitang Kobiraji Cutlet and Mud Crab Jasmine Rice egg yolk served at The Bombay Canteen Gelinaz
The Laitang Kobiraji Cutlet and Mud Crab Jasmine Rice egg yolk served at The Bombay Canteen Gelinaz

Bandra resident Padmavathy Bindingnavale booked a seating at Masque (R5,700) as soon as she heard Gelinaz was featuring two restaurants from Mumbai. "We had no clue what the menu would be, and once we were seated at the table, our server explained the concept and a brief of what would follow. Once the meal started, each course was duly explained. We were four of us and I opted for the vegetarian so that we could try all the dishes," says Bindingnavale.

For Bindingnavale the standout dish was a morel, truffle and shiitake broth served with a Kashmiri katlam bread. "The fried rice was delicious with ginger, garlic and pickled jackfruit. The dessert was unique in a malted barley tart.

Another customer, on condition of anonymity, said, the ravioli was undercooked and chewy, there was an overdose of truffle on almost all dishes. "There was a disconnect in execution," a customer said on condition of anonymity, adding, "One of the larger courses was a fried rice, but I went home hungry."

Bolan's Thai menu at The Bombay Canteen
At The Bombay Canteen, Thomas Zacharias received a modern Thai menu for the great shuffle. "Each recipe contribution is called a matrix, and it is really a Mission Impossible, because so many ideas converge here. We received extensive emails and when we sent out the menu, we had to send plating pictures, too. For me, it was the feeling of being part of something special," says Zacharias whose menu went to a Parisian restaurant called Dauphine.

Zacharias, who doesn't use international produce and sticks to regional availability broke the rule for the night. "Most of the recipes had pork, but it wouldn't have worked in Mumbai so we recognised a parallel ingredient and worked around it. For example, one dish was Egg's Nest, which is similar to the Parsi farcha. We did a take on mutton Kabiraji cutlet, but in a deconstruction format with a crispy pancake and crab salad. We converted the Boat Noodle Soup into a Pork Thupka, with a roast belly and morning glory.

Reshma Mane, home caterer, says while the dishes were Thai, they all had chef Zach's touch to them. "Two dishes stood out for me: the Kabiraji cutlet and the thupka were standout dishes, though the duck salad was too chewy," says Mane, adding that the décor too had a slight variation with orchids, candles and coconut shells. "It was an exciting event where you don't know what the cuisine is going to be," says Mane who paid Rs 2,700 for the dinner. Another customer, on condition of anonymity said, "The food was average. Not all dishes had a Thai connect."

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First Published: 05 December, 2019 08:09 IST

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