Meet Chef Marco Pierre White, who is popularly known as ‘God Father of Modern Cooking’. The youngest chef to win three Michelin stars at the age of 33 in 1994, Marco is in Delhi to be a part of 5th edition of Gold Rush’s World On A Plate, India’s largest gourmet festival. The 58-year-old chef believes that Indian food is more philosophical than just being recipes. He has tasted food from the top 25 restaurants in Mumbai and a few in Delhi as well and is impressed by the versatility of cuisine. He loves the technique of balancing flavours and the usage of spice. No one, in his opinion, uses spice as well as the Indians. It was only after his first trip to Mumbai, he could understand why the French, American and Australian chefs are coming to India to learn the art of using spices. In an exclusive conversation with Times Food over Espresso, the legendary chef talks about his spiritual connect with Indian food, favourite dish and why he loves to relish food here with his fingers.
Indian food and spices
I am in love with Indian pulses. If there is one thing that I can eat any day here is- Sambar. I feel its á magical portion that has the perfect blend of spiciness, tanginess and sweetness too. Since the time I have reached here at the hotel I have eaten lamb curry twice because it was cooked with the bones and I personally loved it because it helps balance the flavours. As far as Indian spices are concerned, they are the gems of Indian cuisine. From cinnamon to turmeric, the wide array is so tempting to me and with time I have realised that these fresh natural spices behave differently in every preparation and that is what makes them different from spices we use back in England.
Food and spirituality The way spirituality helps you connect within, food in India does the same. Here, cooking is a bit more philosophical than just technically following the recipe. Also, every Indian dish has a story connected to it, which further builds the bond with the food, when eaten with fingers. My trip to India helps me ditch fork and knife and use my fingers, as I love to eat with my fingers! It gives me a different level of satisfaction.
Indian food in Britain
Indian butter chicken has some connection with the food culture in England and I feel amazed to see the way people relish it at restaurants and even at home. Thanks to technology that it’s easy to understand the process, but I feel that the magic this land offers, is still missing in the flavours out there. I experienced that magic during my first trip when I landed in Mumbai.
Street food and Marco
I love street food because it gives me a reason to observe how the spices behave outside the fine walls of restaurants. Also, it is the easiest way of experiencing the nuances of culture. While I haven’t explored much in terms of street food in India, but hope to do so and broaden my knowledge about the land of food that knows the art of using spices.
World on a Plate
Food is a means of communication. It breaks the barrier of language and helps people connect on the basis of flavours and I guess World On A Plate is doing the same for the last 5 years. In my opinion, it’s the Michelin of India, as it brings together the like-minded people, who breathe, dream and live food, and WOAP as a platform acknowledges and rewards them. The recognition works as the fuel of satisfaction and also charges them to bring more to the table.
Plating versus flavours
I have seen both phases. There was a time when it was all about quantity, but today, the customers are more concerned about the visual appeal and the portion size, as they want to explore more and more flavours in one go. I think the chefs are not lost in beautifying the plate, rather they have become more functional as they plate the dishes from the perspective of making them easier to eat and this is what I love the most about them.
It often happens that aspiring chefs and people from the world of hospitality ask me for words of advice and my only mantra or gyan is to be ‘Honest’. I believe that if you cook and serve honestly, your job is done. Also, it is important to be a generous human and learn something new every day to keep going in life.