The Expat Chefs of Bangalore
From Thailand to China, France to Italy and Japan to Germany, chefs are pouring into Bangalore to ensure that the food we eat in our fine restaurants is as authentic as say in Dusseldorf or Bangkok. If you’re a foodie, things have never been brighter.
Bangalore is home to a number of expats. So it’s no wonder that global cuisine is thriving in the city. Most restaurants boast of at least one expat chef and Bangaloreans are not complaining.
Chef Paithoon, Thai chef at Oko, The Lalit Ashok, is enjoying his stay in Bangalore. “People here have a passion for food and are willing to experiment,” he says. “I like everything about Bangalore. The crowds, the culture, theclimate. Most importantly, I like the people here. They are generous, courteous and make an effort to understand me when I talk. In fact, they even assist me,” he tells us.
Unlike many people from other countries, he loves Indian spices. “I love tangy and spicy dishes. Idli, dosa and sambar are some of my favourites,” he notes. If given an opportunity, he would love to settle down here with his family.
Think French bistro cuisine and Cafe Noir at UB City comes to mind. Chef Bruno moved to the city in 2010 after reading about it and has made Bangalore his home ever since. Ask him why he is here and he says, “Why not?” In the beginning, he did find it difficult to live in a new city. “However, now, I have a social life and am in a state of equilibrium,” he jokes.
Work here is less stressful when compared to Europe, he feels. “But I never compare the two places. I manage and adapt. Everyone here is curious and willing to learn,” he sums up. Much like home
The Oberoi has two expat chefs – Chef Attachai Kitisri from Thailand, who heads Rim Naam and Chef Liang Cheng from China, who heads Szechwan Court. The two chefs had always been curious about India and when the opportunity to work here came, they were eager to come. They are originally from Chiang Mai and Beijing respectively, both of them love Bangalore’s weather. The Indian kitchen, they feel, is well-equipped, modern and constantly upgraded. The work environment is warm and friendly too, much like their home.
According to them, Indians are well travelled and aware. “They come to our restaurant to experience the original style of our cooking. Sometime, they ask us to prepare dishes with ingredients, for which one has to acquire a taste, such as fish sauce / fish stock / galangal / Thai chilli,” says Chef Kitisri.
On the negative side, “I hate the traffic and the fact that people litter without any concern for the environment,” says Chef Cheng.
The Memories of China at Vivanta by Taj MG Road, serves a delicious sauce called the Tong
Sauce, a spicy blend of oyster and tomato sauce, chilli paste, ginger, garlic, black beans and vinegar. The man behind this sauce is Master Chinese Chef Lai Hin Tong William, whose main aim is to promote authentic Chinese food.
Bangalore has given him friends for life. “I have friends over here who I have known for over 30 years. I am good friends with my Executive Chef and General Manager too. Where can you find such friends?” he asks.
Though he likes Indian food, he cannot eat it everyday. “Just like the local people here cannot eat Chinese food everyday,” he laughs.
Chef B’ela Rieck, Executive Chef of Sheraton Bangalore Hotel at Brigade Gateway, feels the beauty of being a chef is working in various countries. Though he is from Germany, he and his wife share a keen interest in Indian food and culture. “The climate is great and the people are nice. The traffic is a bit annoying but I would not say I hate it,” he says.
Ask him if Indian hotel kitchens are any different from European kitchens and he says, “Yes. They are bigger, louder, and busier with extremely delicious food!”
Chef Vittorio Greco, the Italian chef at West View, ITC Gardenia, has had an amazing time in India. “My associates are young and open-minded and this makes my job all the more interesting,” he notes. He’s amazed at the number of cultures existing here and loves exploring the city in an auto, in his free time. “I love going to Cubbon Park in the afternoons with a cup of chai,” he smiles.
According to him, Indian and Italian food have many similarities as most of the vegetables and meats used in the two cuisines are the same. “But I’ve had the pleasure of serving people, who know a lot about Italian cuisine and this makes my work really easy. I ensure I give them the right explanation for the dish,” he sums up.
It was the pleasant weather in Bangalore and Japanese food-lovers in the city that brought Chef Benjamin JR S Prades, the Japanese chef at Edo, the Japanese restaurant at ITC Gardenia, to Bangalore. “I believe spices and richness play an important role in Indian food. So I have started mixing Indian flavours in Japanese food to create Japanese food that suits the Indian palate,” he admits.
Explocity discovered that most expat chefs, who have made this city their home, enjoy its weather and the warmth of the people. And the dishes they create every day to tickle the Bangalorean palate, makes for smiles all around.