I prefer to use simple and fresh ingredients: Chef Ravi Kant

A graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management Pusa with around 16 years of culinary experience, Ravi Kant, Executive Chef, The Lalit New Delhi specializes in Indian and Italian cuisines. Creative and experimental, he elevates the simple grain to deliver an authentic and delectable dining experience. The chef recently spent six years in the hotel and shares his inspiration and journey with us:

1. When did you decide to become a chef?

My mother has been a big influence in my culinary life, watching her I developed an innate love for cooking. Ever since I was a child, I have enjoyed being with her in the kitchen and family time is best enjoyed during meals. I followed my passion and graduated from IIHM. I started my training and worked in various positions at the back and learned a lot over the past two decades. My love for food and cooking continues to grow despite a demanding profession. It ignites my soul.

2. How would you describe your general culinary philosophy?

I respect food, as I respect nature. I try to focus on ethical choices in terms of ingredients and food waste. I believe in Mark Twain’s words, “To eat is human, to digest is divine”, and I have always emphasized a balanced and healthy diet, which is why most of my recipes include different grains and seeds. I prefer to use simple and fresh ingredients from my own garden, the food is organic and nutritious.

3. What is your signature dish? What do people love about it?

I have always loved making Coq au Vin. It was one of the first dishes I specialized in, it was its simplicity that caught my attention. It’s a simple but delicious dish, where the chicken is cooked with wine, it’s the best of both worlds. The flavor, the process, the ingredients make this a very special dish for me and I would recommend people try it. Over the years I’ve realized that people love it because it tastes pristine, it’s classy, ​​and it’s a very safe option. You can’t go wrong with chicken and wine.

4. Describe how you deal with food waste as a way to reduce overhead.

As executive chef of the group’s flagship hotel, I have to find sustainable ways to manage the kitchen. It’s not only good for business, but an imperative need with growing environmental concerns. We follow FIFO – “first in, first out” which is a useful way to organize food. Most meal prep leaves unusable leftover stems, peels and bits of food, so we turn them into biocompost. Even coffee grounds and tea leaves make a great addition to a compost pile. It’s an effective way to reduce waste and turn leftovers into nutrient-rich fertilizer. We believe in a clean kitchen, so don’t overcook large quantities, instead feed fresh food according to customer preferences, which helps us minimize waste.

5. What food and drink trends do you follow?

Vegan food has grown in popularity and I support the trend because it has great health benefits. Dairy-free diets are endorsed by celebrities, have gone viral on social media, many chefs are cooking up new recipes, and supermarkets are filling the aisles with options. I also enjoy hosting vegan meals, especially desserts which have been introduced to our menus.

6. What chefs and cuisines inspire you?

I am personally inspired by chefs, who have changed the world of food and impacted society as well. One of the chefs is Marco Pierre, who became the first British chef to receive three Michelin stars at the age of 32 in 1995. The other inspirational chef is Ranveer Brar. He is one of India’s youngest executive chefs. He started his career at a young age of 16.

7. What is your magic ingredient that you think enhances all dishes?

There are so many ingredients that it’s hard to choose just one. I love cooking plant-based foods and proving that non-traditional ingredients can also be delicious and have intense, deep flavor. To get the umami flavor in dishes you would usually get from meat or fish, I use mushroom powder, which you can buy or make by mixing dried porcini mushrooms or shiitake into a powder. This will give stews, vegan bolognese, tom yum soup or sauces an extra boost of intensity. I focus on creating dishes with healthy and nutritious grains that are generally avoided. I like to bring out their flavor and elevate their use.

8. You mentioned that cereal was an important part of your trip, how come?

I come from a family of farmers; cereals have been part of my beginnings since I was very young. I played with cereals (millet, barley, rice, rye and bran) in the kitchen, in a way it made me become the chef I am today. It’s amazing to see customers pay more attention to their food and what they put into their bodies, which has helped me become a skilled chef. It’s a treat to create nutritious dishes from healthy ingredients.


    Ruchika Garg writes about art and culture, for Entertainment & Lifestyle daily supplement, HT City
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