World-renowned chef Vicky Ratnani, currently the Chief Culinary Advisor at Hello Green, talks about how travelling has shaped his cooking, the places around the world he’d recommend for inimitable dining experiences, and the future of Hello Green, a food outlet making the rounds for its healthy options. By Gayatri Moodliar
1. You’ve travelled all over the world. How have all those experiences influenced your cooking style?
I think with travel you learn about ingredients and usage, about taste and flavours. And then you try to use it, or a part of it, in your cooking.
2. What, according to you, is the best culinary destination in India?
3. Any ingredient you carry with you no matter where you’re travelling?
My home-blend of spices.
4. Tell us about the best meal you had recently.
Biryani outside Jama Masjid.
5. Top five culinary destinations to travel to around the world?
Lucknow, Amritsar, Tuscany, Hong Kong, Chiang Mai.
6. What’s the most unconventional thing you’ve eaten while on a vacation?
Beef heart in Lima.
7. Solo or group travel?
Solo travel for sure.
8. How long did it take you to develop your own personal style of cooking?
It took about 15 to 16 years. I first learned the basics, then numerous travels taught me more. Working with other chefs has also been a big part. Gradually one starts to adapt; it’s like going to a gym.
9. How do you not crack under pressure?
Planning, organising, and passion.
10. What’s been your most memorable trip so far?
Varanasi and Machu Picchu.
11. Where did you last travel to?
Bali and Hong Kong.
12. Have you seen any exciting development when it comes to eco-consciousness during your travels?
Green kitchens, composts, rainwater harvesting, solar panels, and new methods of green cooking.
13. How do you see Indian cuisine influencing global ones?
Indian cuisine is aspirational for chefs abroad. Using spices is a science and requires technique. It is important to understand the nuances of herbs versus spices.
14. How do you see the future of sustainable dining?
It’s going to get even bigger. People will be going greener and there’ll be more responsibility in sourcing.
15. What can one do in their own kitchens to further the sustainability goal?
There’s so much: buy local, cook seasonal, avoid wastage, use everything (root to stem cooking), grow produce in your own garden, install a compost.
16. In sourcing ingredients, how much do you get involved?
I’m 200% involved. It’s the fun before the cooking.
17. When delivering through Hello Green, how do you ensure the freshness of the produce?
Things are prepped fresh in small batches and are tossed to order. Our ingredients are sourced from small farms so the carbon footprint is much less.
18. What is the scope for personalisation when it comes to the eatery’s programmes?
Hello Green has launched various meal plans for people with on-the-go lifestyles and millennials who are getting more conscious about what’s on their plate and the production process. We cater to anyone looking to get healthier—athletes, fitness enthusiasts, food connoisseurs, just about anyone. While placing an order, one can discuss their concerns and the team shall assist in the best possible manner.
19. What’s on the menu, in the future, for Hello Green?
Regional delicacies with choicest ingredients like warm bowls and millet biryani.
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