Chef Gautam Uchil
Kitchen Executive and Western Kitchen head at The Oberoi, Bengaluru
Which is your favourite cuisine to experiment with and why?
I have two. One is Italian which uses simple ingredients to create beautiful dishes. Different flavours like good quality olive oil, garlic, fresh or heirloom tomatoes, saffron, fresh seafood, garden herbs etc. The end result is a wholesome cuisine with balanced flavours and texture too. The second favourite being Thai. It is filled with the art of balancing flavours of fresh herbs and spices. A cuisine which also boasts the use of simple, fresh ingredients and a rustic style of blending them to create the most amazing dishes.
Since you were present in Bombay during 26/11, how did these events change your perspective professionally?
The biggest perspective it blessed me with was respect for the time one has, people you work with and the place you work for. One cannot take for granted any of these aspects in the professional scenario. A deep sense of respect for my colleagues who put guest’s safety first even for some cases at the cost of their lives. This truly left a very meaningful impact on me as an hotelier. Hospitality in India also underwent a tremendous change where aspects of security and measures to safeguard our guests and their well being are utmost in any hotel’s planning, execution and infrastructure now.
What is one thing that sets apart B'lore diners from the rest of the country?
Bangalore is a metropolitan city with people who have travelled the world, experienced different cuisines and therefore have knowledge about what they want and what they should expect from a restaurant. They are good critics and faithful audience to the food you have to offer, if you do it sincerely and with passion. They look for consistency, quality and warmth of the whole meal experience
What is the best street food you have had?
Being from Maharashtra, living my teenage years in Mumbai and Pune I really have experienced some great street food these cities have to offer. To me the memory of the Vada Pao is an everlasting one. I can never miss out on this dish when I visit home. The best I have eaten will always be the one near my school in Pune at the Nisarg tea stall near Symbiosis on Senapati Bapat road. The love for this dish prompted me to even put the dish in a slightly modern avatar of Vada Pav sliders with the accompaniments and chutneys on our Polo Club Menu.
What dish do you find to be most challenging?
I always thought of it. It seems to be the simplest dish you can think of but involves precision in cooking, timing and cooling the dish. It is the humble steamed rice. It has to be a good long grained, every grain separate. It takes a great deal of care and precision and experience to create the same consistently each and every time. This rice is kind of the central piece of most Indian or Oriental meals which holds all the other dishes together.