Ahead of his Global Padyatra pop-up at Kakapo, New Delhi, Chef Vicky Ratnani speaks to us about the inspiration behind the menu, his favourite travel souvenirs and more. By Anushka Goel
Chef Vicky Ratnani is no unknown name in the culinary world. His signature humour, quirky recipes, and the abundance of knowledge reflect in his personality – whether you meet him in person or watch him on his many culinary shows on TV. And his food – complete with a variety of techniques, flavours, and influences – is sure to bring you back to the table for more.
In an exclusive conversation, the chef talks about his upcoming pop-up at Kakapo, New Delhi, what draws him to the space and the culinary influences this refreshing, seasonal menu will showcase.
In conversation with Chef Vicky Ratnani
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T+L India: How did the Global Padyatra pop-up with Kakapo come into place?
Chef Vicky Ratnani: Well, I’ve known Chef Honey (Mishra, Chef Consultant), Mankaran (Johar, F&B Consultant), and Aftab (Sidhu, F&B Consultant) for many years. When I came to Delhi the last time and visited the restaurant, I fell in love with it – the whole vibe and the location – and I like what they are doing with their food and beverage. So, I thought this would be a great spot to come and do this global-influenced menu that’s seasonal and sustainable. That’s how the initial thought started, and finally, it’s happening!
T+L India: Tell us a bit more about the idea behind the menu.
Chef Vicky Ratnani: The kitchen at Kakapo is very well equipped – it’s got a Josper oven, great cooking equipment, and I like to cook with charcoal over fire. The elements of the menu are based on what is available very fresh, so really nice mushrooms from the farm, butternut squash, banana peppers, trout from Himachal, organic chicken, lobster and prawns from the east coast – it’s a very produce-driven, seasonal menu which has got the quirk of India as well. That’s why it’s called Global Padyatra – dishes that have inspired me from different cuisines and different places. It’s just techniques and flavours inspired from different parts of the world, with a stroke of Indian DNA in it. So this menu has come about taking off from that.
T+L India: The menu showcases a lot of international dishes and ingredients such as couscous Indianised for the audience. Is finding a middle ground between two cuisines to let both of them speak a challenging task?
Chef Vicky Ratnani: I don’t think I have a problem with that. When you have a clearer understanding of food and flavours, it is very easy to kind of – I wouldn’t say easy, it is much more – I do it with ease, because you have to understand both the flavours or both the influences which you are trying to combine. You have to have a good understanding of both sides in order to understand what will really make sense.
T+L India: As a chef, you must have travelled extensively. How much of each space or place do you bring back into your personal style of cooking?
Chef Vicky Ratnani: There is always taking back things from every place you go to. You can’t really quantitatively calculate how much of it but there is a fair amount, which kind of leaves an impression in your memory, in your subconscious. It’s another flavour or another experience that you add to your cap, and wherever there’s a chance you know when you have to unravel it and use it. So, it changes and varies with time and place.
T+L India: What’s your favourite souvenir to bring back from trips, when it comes to food?
Chef Vicky Ratnani: All the time! I’m using these Omani black lemons in the sauce for the lamb on the menu, and I am also carrying some lovely Mathania chillies from Rajasthan… Yeah, so whenever I travel I bring back either a spice or a particular kind of oil or equipment, I buy a lot of books, and you’ll see all this stuff on the menu.
T+L India: What are your favourite places to shop, when it comes to local ingredients?
Chef Vicky Ratnani: In Delhi, I like to go to Khari Baoli to check out spices sometimes. I visit the INA market. When I am in Mumbai I go to Crawford Market. In Barcelona, we go to Mercados and Sant Antoni. There are various spice shops in New York where you get some really good things. And also a lot of bylanes and kinara shops in cities like Bangaluru, for example.
T+L India: Anything else you’d like to say?
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Chef Vicky Ratnani: Well, I hope people take this menu well, there’s a lot of fun, there’s a lot of quirkiness in the menu, a lot of things like the whole interactive element, and there’s a point of conversation as well. The diners are going to have a good time!
Hero and Featured Image: Courtesy of @vickythechef/Instagram
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