Hot Air Chat with Dheeraj Malhotra, Head Chef, Moet’s Stone, Delhi

Not always do you see a head chef talking so humbly, yet the experience and passion showing in between his lines.
This time, we got an opportunity to have a chat with the Head Chef, Moet’s Stone, New Delhi, regarding his love for cooking and other things. The place has a very casual chilled out ambiance with comfortable low couch seating and serves as a perfect place for dinner and drinks with friends. Here is the excerpt of the talk we had.
Dhiraj Malhotra Moets Stone

1) How do you describe your style of cooking?
I believe in progressive modern cuisine with influence from Italian & Australian style of cooking. Experimenting on various recipes, giving them a new, delicious twist always helps me discover new ways and new flavors of cooking.
Fusion cooking helps me make sure the customers feel happy after looking at the food, smelling it and tasting it. Food should be memorable, and that’s of utmost importance to me.

2) How do you keep the restaurant running in chaotic situations? How do you calm everyone around you?
I keep everything calm by communicating with the team and interacting with them constantly, at all times. Talking is very important to co-ordinate the team and this helps to improve the standard of the food and the service delivered to our customers.

3) How long have you been cooking professionally? How did you start?
I began as a trainee chef in 1997 and became an Executive chef in 2014. All these years were short but the journey was a long, memorable one which included learning, practicing, experimenting, and implementing in various stages and thanks to all my senior colleagues, my chef, and my teams, the journey was very fruitful and overwhelming. I worked hard and believed all the way that my experimental recipes can matter to the guests.

4) What is your signature dish?
Lots of them, I am sharing one which is Ravioli Pear & Pecorino tossed in almond sage butter sauce. This is a bistro-worthy vegetarian dish which is easy to make, but tastes more delicious with some secret ingredients and modification in the proportion of the things used.
Pear & Pecorino Ravioli

5) Is there one secret ingredient or spice you love to cook with?
My secret ingredient, will be fresh herbs like tarragon, parsley, rosemary, thyme. I can’t work without fresh herbs in the kitchen. Herbs are most important ingredients to accentuate the aroma and the taste of food prepared. Also, the fresh herbs are beneficial for the health.

6) What is the most interesting or fun experience you’ve had while in restaurants?
A wonderful experience I faced was to create a menu for the opening party of Hilton hotel in Australia. It was a great experience as it included a mix of dishes – world cuisine as well as select Indian dishes which are presumably game to the taste of the people there.

7) One cuisine you would love to experiment with?
I believe Indian cuisine still has potential to work on and improvise with. There are a large number of hidden traditional dishes which can be given a twist and produced with a refreshing new look and taste.

8) Name one chef who inspires you. And who is your best food critic?
Chefs who have inspired me are Chef Heston Blummenthel, who is the proprietor of The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, one of four restaurants in Great Britain to have three Michelin stars; and Chef Vikas Khanna, the award winning Michelin starred Indian chef, restaurateur, and cookbook writer, filmmaker, humanitarian and the host of the TV show MasterChef India. The best food critic as per me will be Vir Sangvi & Matt Preston, who is an English-Australian food journalist, restaurant critic, writer, and television personality.

9) Who did you experiment your initial recipes on?
Whenever I try to make a new experimental recipe, I taste them first myself, and after that I ask my core team to taste it and give their suggestion on that. You have to give that kind of recognition to your team, until that you’ll just be a boss in the kitchen, not an ideal chef.

10) Do you enjoy being in any place other than the kitchen?
When not at the Moet’s Stone, I am there with my family, cooking traditional North Indian delicacies. He chuckles, saying, “Do visit my home someday. You’ll love the food!”

11) Any advice you would give to budding chefs?
My advice to all young chefs will be to focus & emphasize on the things what you love to do. A small phrase to all of my upcoming generation will be “Love what you are doing”. If you love what you are doing, the end result will always be great.

After a few more chat, we let him head to the kitchen, to produce another delicious signature dishes of his. Popular dishes there are the Quattro Formaggi Pizza and the Grilled Chicken in Black Pepper Sauce with Fettuccine. Yes, Moet’s Stone is definitely a hit.

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