Monsoon allows us to hunt down streets for different flavors. This time, we had a chance to meet Chef Alpan Gavitrikar, the executive chef of Out of the Blue, Mumbai. Before gracing our table for a pep talk about his life and experiences, he let us taste – and enjoy few of the famous dishes there. And they were indeed delicious.
We tasted the awesome OOTB cracked pepper fondue. The main tip here is how the cheese was melted. “One needs to keep stirring it till the cheese is completely melted”, says Chef Alpan. “The required ingredients were added here on and the fondue once ready was transferred on to a fondue pot. It is important to keep the fondue warm throughout to maintain its consistency.” Fondues were served with assorted boiled vegetables and chunks of bread. You must try the Desi Fondue, it is a perfect comfort food with the incessant rains. After having tasty bites, we started our questions.
1) How do you describe your style of cooking?
I like grilling and using innovative, fresh techniques with unique ingredients to create something new. My dishes will lend your palate a variety of flavors, all melting in the mouth in a perfectly created combination.
2) How do you keep the kitchen running in chaotic situations? How do you calm everyone around you?
I am calm in nature and don’t get hassled easily so automatically I am calm and peaceful even in a chaotic situation. In case somebody else is harrowed I take them aside to understand their problem and help them to solve it.
3) What was your inspiration getting into this profession?
My Inspiration comes from within, as I always loved cooking even as a child. I used to see my mother cooking and was always attracted to the crackling sounds the ingredients made when being sautéed, when the initial smoke and aroma of green chili and cumin seed filled the kitchen, etc. I have grown up eating tasty homemade food and that’s what my aim is – to deliver memorable experiences to the visitors via the aroma, look and taste.
4) What is your signature dish?
Its Nachos Upside Down and 7 layers Dip. I pay a lot of importance to the Nachos. They have the right amount of salt, have substance and crunch and, as a result, could hold the weight of toppings – even more toppings than the nachos came with.
Seeing us trying to visualize the dish again, he laughingly added, “You’ll love them.”
5) Is there one secret ingredient or spice you love to cook with?
I love cooking with Ghost Pepper Chilies (Naga Chilies). The best versions are sometimes called as the hottest chilies in the world. And the best thing is that you can add these flakes to any recipe, meal, or dessert you want.
6) What is the most interesting or fun experience you’ve had while in restaurants?
6 months back we were innovating new dishes to put on our menu and I enjoyed using my creativity and introducing Nachos Upside Down, 7 layers Dip, Tomato Confit Pasta and an upcoming Dish on the Menu called Shawarma Delux. While experimenting or thinking of a new recipe, hunting for the perfect ingredients.. all this makes it pretty interesting.
He signs back, “the job of a chef is pretty cool if you start loving it.”
7) One cuisine you would love to experiment with?
Conceptualizing fresh and delicious sizzlers from the Oceanic Cuisine. Australia, New Zealand and Tasmania present a varied and colorful mixture of ingredients and one can create magic on a pan if conceptualized and cooked properly.
8) Name any other chef who inspired you at the start. And who is your best food critic?
Chef Tanai Shirali, My Head at Out of the Blue Pune. He believes in evolution. He believes in innovating food. He believes in one culture grabbing great ideas from another and running with them. My guests are always my best food critics, and I want to make them happy everytime they visit here.
9) Favorite places to eat when you’re not at the Out of the Blue?
Umame at Churchgate. Their desserts are good. Its one of those places where delectable Pan Asian delicacies are available and the service is also good.
There’s also Masala Library at Bandra Kurla Complex which uses good proportion of ingredients in the food. And the servings look good as well as taste good.
10) Who did you experiment your initial recipes on?
My sisters Aditi Govitrikar and Arzoo Govitrikar. Both of them have less time on their hands but are my darlings. They find time to taste my preparations, and rate them too!
11) Where do you go when you need to escape for a breather?
Nothing gives a recluse to me as much as my parent’s home in Panvel, Mumbai. I feel home, and happy there.
12) One thing unique about Mumbai.
One thing I love here in Mumbai is the way people open up to new possibilities. Even in food, people are open to experiment with new ingredients and new cuisines. Regarding food, they’re unbiased and truthful about the look, smell and taste. That’s what makes me try to innovate and bring out better dishes.
13) Any advice you would give to budding chefs?
The way I know it, there is no shortcut to success, so every aspiring chef should always be disciplined and fully professional. Once you’ve gained confidence and an upper hand, you can start experimenting more.