ABOUT FOOD AND CURRY . . . AND BEER
& COOKING ARTICLE
Weve heard of selling ice to Eskimos and coal
to Newcastle . . . but curry to India?
chef Dominic Chapman talks about a chance encounter with a
beer magnate. Helping British chefs, aim for the stars, and
a forthcoming trip to Kolkata as part of the Best of British
A year ago I met a man on a scuba diving boat in Greece.
We got talking about food and curry . . . and beer. So far,
so English, I hear you say.
My diving companion turned out to be none other than Lord
Karan Bilimoria, the founder of one of the great success stories
of the UK food and drink industry in the past twenty years.
chances are that if you like curry then you will know Cobra
Beer and it is a mark of the brands popularity that
the two are now synonymous with one another.
We shared a passion for curry and in the course of our conversation
he wanted to know why more British curry chefs hadnt
won a Michelin star - there are only two in the UK - and what
could be done about it.
It was a good question and, on my return to the UK, he put
me in touch with some of the countrys leading Indian
restaurateurs to find a way forward.
I was invited to a seminar for chefs, where I was invited
to talk along with Atul Kochhar who was the first Indian chef
to win a Michelin star in the UK.
The British have a long-standing love affair with curry dating
back to 1809 when the first Indian restaurant opened in London.
There are now more than 12,000 Indian restaurants in the
UK with some geographically defining their surrounding area,
such as east Londons Brick Lane and Birminghams
I have the utmost respect for British curry chefs. They are
hugely passionate about their restaurants, have frighteningly
large menus to contend with and a large and increasingly demanding
number of customers. They have an intimate knowledge of spices
that leaves me feeling like somewhat of a novice.
Balance is everything in cooking and too little of this or
too much of that can be the difference between something that
works and something that doesnt.
I relished the chance of getting involved and recently held
a master class for Indian chefs where I talked about my own
experience in the food industry and what I thought was needed
to win a Michelin star.
I should preface that by saying I have never personally
sought accolades for my cooking. My priority has always been
to put my heart and soul into being the best I can be, in
my chosen profession. I believe that this is a good starting
point for anything anyone wants to achieve in life.
If you love what you do and can mix that passion and enthusiasm
with a willingness to learn and keep growing then you will
be a success.
My personal recipe is simple. I focus on consistently producing
the best food that I can and that, in turn, is measured by
the number of customers who come to the restaurant.
You can be the greatest chef in the world but if people arent
enjoying your food, whats the point? It is so important
that the food you produce fits the surroundings you are in.
My basic advice at the master class was to consider reducing
the number of dishes on the menu, refine the remainder to
a consistently high standard, buy the best seasonal ingredients
you can afford, keep in touch with your customers tastes
and ensure everything you do is done with thought and passion.
Its far better to be exceptional at a few things than
mediocre at a lot.
As a young chef, its also important to be a sponge
and soak up as much knowledge as you can. If youre really
committed to the kitchen you soon realize that learning is
an on-going journey. It doesnt have an end point and
there is always something new to experience, eat or see.
am glad to say that I will be travelling with a group of like-minded
chefs to the Taste of British Curry Festival in Kolkata in
August when we will be preparing more than 70 dishes over
a ten day period at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
These include high street favourites like British Chicken
Tikka Masala alongside signature dishes including Shepherds
Manpasand Pie, Lamb Chops with Plum and Coriander Sauce and
Bengal Lancers Shrimp Curry.
There is even a version of Sunday Roast and Yorkshire Puddings
although beef is off the menu for religious reasons and replaced
It might sound a little odd taking curry to its birthplace
but the festival has had an enthusiastic reception in the
past from countries as far afield as America, Bangladesh,
Malaysia, Spain, UAE and Eastern Europe.
India is also a country that isnt covered by the Michelin
The Michelin guide is of huge interest to Indian restaurants
in the UK. My involvement will give diners the chance to taste
some British classics like Potted Shrimps, Fish and Chips,
Chicken and Mushroom Pie and Lancashire Hot Pot.
Well all be flying the British culinary flag in our
own way and, while I wont be cooking Anglo-Indian dishes,
I am hoping to learn a huge amount about India and its food
while I am there.
It will be my first trip to India; I am looking forward to
cooking with some great Indian chefs, meeting some interesting
people and experiencing the country and culture.
This trip will be a huge education for me and is very exciting.
I cant wait to experience the delicious food of Kolkata
and the diverse experience of India.
To find out more about the Taste of
British Curry Festival visit www.facebook.com/CurryLifeMagazine
Hub-UK : email@example.com