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Sustainable luxury comes home with Delhi’s top hotel chefs

By Rupali Dean  |  June 27, 2021
Anurudh Khanna chef

Whether we are travelling for the sake of a great meal or choosing to eat at home these days, we are all too aware of sustainability and especially how this is incorporated within the food industry. Many chefs and restaurants are using well researched practices to ensure that their offerings not only have environmental care at their heart, but also thoroughly please the diner too.

LLM – Luxury Lifestyle Magazine contributor Rupali Dean showcases six luxury hotel chefs across Delhi who are blending sustainable practices with a grand gourmet experience.

Chef Rajdeep Kapoor, executive chef, ITC Maurya

Being born into a family that discusses lunch over breakfast and dinner over lunch; Rajdeep has been curiously entangled with food from the earliest years of his childhood.

At the Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, Bangalore, in 1986 he was recruited by ITC Hotels as a kitchen executive trainee. Here, he received a comprehensive and practical understanding of the trade in all culinary and support departments. Today, at the helm of the hotel’s culinary department and at a platform which provides him with infinite scope to create, reinvent himself, ameliorate resources and set new trends, he relentlessly endeavours to ensure that every guest experience is a culinary moment of truth.

Rajdeep said: “Best and fresh ingredients can only be cultivated with our own intervention owing to the fact that food in the rawest and freshest form is not only tasty, but also has the maximum nutritional value. By own intervention one has the liberty to decide on what goes in the soil, for example safe and natural fertilizers and avoiding harmful pesticides. We are more open to trying out very different kinds of produce which are healthier, organic and sustainable rather than practicing methods of mass production.

“The organic food movement is part of a larger spectrum of sustainability movement. Organic growth is building healthy soil, enhancing biodiversity, avoiding use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and any kind of synthetic material. Sustainability emphasizes on a similar biological approach but expands the focus to improve broader agricultural practices by focusing on things like growing native food crops, using natural water resources, using soil conservation techniques, using non environment polluting methods of cultivation and not to reduce the biodiversity and wildlife habitat.”

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Bajra Ka soweta; haleem; gosht istew; choley batura; soya chaap.

Chef Anurudh Khanna, multi property executive chef For The Westin Gurgaon, New Delhi and The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa

An efficacious culinary professional who brings with him an experience of almost two decades combined with a unique blend of creative flair and passion for food, strong business sense and engaging interpersonal skills, Anurudh’s rendezvous with in-house cultivation began few years back, when he was in Pune.

“I got familiar with in-house organic farming and the farm-to-table concept and learnt various techniques of organic farming. Now, at The Westin Sohna Resort and Spa we are bringing luxury and nature on to the same table by encouraging in-house organic farming methods,” he shared.

“We, along with skilful horticulturists design and direct effective means to farm grow fruits and vegetables that further inspire menus for the food and beverage outlets and foster ‘globally inspired yet locally created’ dishes.

“Today people are ever more aware of the indigenous products around them, and it is vital to diversify the food that people intake. However, I would refrain from calling sustainability a trend or a movement. Trends and movements are born with the tendency to fade away; this is a way of life and is here to stay and needs to be made mainstream forever,” he added.

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Pearl millet risotto with seasonal tandoori vegetables; organic quinoa and mango salad; stir fry vegetables with kale, broccoli and house grown spinach; basil pesto spaghetti (with house grown basil ); home grown bathua stuffed parathas.

Chef Neeraj Tyagi, director of culinary, Pullman and Novotel New Delhi Aerocity

With excellence every day as his motto, Neeraj believes in chasing personal greatness and celebrating the progress achieved every day. His vision is to cultivate and maintain the finest of culinary operations, enhance dining standards, increase quality and productivity and ultimately guest satisfaction.

Agriculture is in his blood; Neeraj comes from a family of farmers and has travelled to various parts of India and experienced various cultures and their cuisine. “Most imperatively, as a chef I firmly believe you can’t dish out novel dishes without having fresh produce,” he said. “We at Pullman and Novotel New Delhi Aerocity resolutely believe in sustainable cuisine and hence we have chosen to own a 5000sqft kitchen garden. We grow our own seasonal and fresh produce and have also tied up with local farmers and artisans. The pandemic has affected and impacted import, while we have relied on local sustainable food for some time. We grow our own English vegetables, and all our menus are seasonal.”

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Immunity booster salad; today’s fish fillet; puran seekh ka murg; highway murg tikka; honey chilli bean fish.

Sandeep Pande, executive chef, JW Marriott New Delhi

Chef Sandeep holds an intricately elaborate experience in the culinary world and has many famed recognitions to his name. A master in Mediterranean, Thai, Indian and French cuisines, Sandeep has stayed across India and he has also lived and worked in six different countries; reflected in his culinary expertise.

“During my influential years as a chef we were shown the importance of ingredients. Great food is simplified as real ingredients, Cooked with passion, food fit for Gods. The best and the freshest ingredients need not be expensive or hard to source, they just need to be nurtured, cared for and cooked with passion. During those years, the wholesale markets used to cater to the hoi polloi as there was a clear dearth of good purveyors and sustainable and carefully grown food was seen as a secondary necessity by the masses,” shared Sandeep.

“The green revolution did produce enough but it also killed unique crops, sustainable farming practices and symbiotic eco associations. This continued right till 1990s when the world started opening up and we soon realised that cultivation is much more than tractor ploughed fields and urea sprinkles. Soon we had some of the best ingredients being made available to us in new concept called farm to fork. The rest, as they say, is history.”

Chef Sandeep enhances sustainable luxury at the hotel by working with partners to ensure that in certain months certain fish are not line caught or ensuring that they buy their vegetables from growers who use natural means to grow food. He is a strong believer of concepts like Hive to Home Honey where in pot honey is grown by multiflora honey.

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Super seed kachumber; himachal apple, celery and pecan nut salad; kochi prawn masala with red puttu; ragi roti and organic cage free chili chicken kathi rolls; hapus mango, fig, nuts and multi flora coorg honey flavoured kheer jam jar. 

Chef Manish Sharma, executive chef at The Oberoi, Gurgaon

Chef Manish heads the culinary brigade at the world cuisine restaurant, threesixtyone as well as the modern Indian cuisine restaurant, amaranta and is responsible for all the gourmet creations offered across the patisserie, conventions, banquets, bar and staff dining room at the hotel. Under his leadership, the hotel restaurants and patisserie have won numerous awards in the city by leading publications.

“Focus on indigenous products as well as more on organic products increased with the restrictions imposed on importing fresh vegetables around seven years back. This made me realize how to reduce the dependency on imports but rather work directly with farmers or local producers. King mushrooms, Japanese corn, micro greens, strawberries etc are a few ingredients I procure locally. Luxury is all about experience before someone talks about it, constant innovation is the key,” the chef shared.

“Creating home-made marmalade with mini oranges from the local farm with local jaggery and Kashmiri saffron, making paratha with a flour made with 10 different grains, milled by hand from a local craftsman and served with homemade butter are some examples.”

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Threesixtyone super green salad; selection of chaat boxes – Kolkata/Delhi/Mumbai; wild mushroom on sourdough bread; burrata salad; beetroot and quinoa tikki.

Sahil Arora, executive chef at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi

A veteran of luxury hotel brands, chef Sahil brings over 18 years of culinary experience to the hotel. Chef Sahil has previously worked with renowned luxury hotels and was part of the pre-opening team at Shangri-La’s – Eros Hotel, New Delhi. Coming with a wealth of culinary elegance and sophistication, chef Sahil together with his lifelong curiosity and openness to discovery is spearheading a dedicated culinary team at the hotel.

“Wellness is one of the fastest-growing trends and good nutrition is essential to a strong immune system. Guests have started opting for balanced dishes that have nutrient-dense, organic and sustainably sourced ingredients. People are always on the lookout for ingredients that boost immunity, promote healthy living and look tempting. During my learning under French executive chef Pierre Burgade, I understood the value of great produce and took this forward in my future assignment,” shared chef Sahil.

“Shangri-La’s philosophy of ‘Hospitality from the heart’ takes into consideration a guest’s well-being from a holistic perspective – physical, mental and nutritional. An integral part of eating well is responsible and sustainable sourcing of ingredients. At the hotel, seasonal, local and organic products are selected where possible, and the culinary team ensures that chosen cooking methods retain nutritional value and preserve the natural flavour of the ingredients. Wellness by Shangri-La includes nutrient-dense, unprocessed, whole foods that nourish the body and promote health. The food choices in the wellness menu are low in salt, added sugars and unhealthy fats.”

Five sustainably inclined dishes to order for home delivery?

Grilled snapper with sautéed greens and garlic butter sauce; nasik roasted tomato soup; fresh burrata salad; grilled free-range chicken with garlic mash and mushroom jus; lahsuni palak paneer.