Master Chefs: Generation next

The country’s top culinarians pick the names that will dominate platters and conversations in the new year.

Written by Shantanu David | New Delhi | Updated: December 28, 2014 12:00:09 am
(Clockwise from left) Rahul Dua’s bhapa doi cheesecake; char-grilled mushrooms by Amit Naithani; Beetroot Tikki by Satinder Vij (Clockwise from left) Rahul Dua’s bhapa doi cheesecake; char-grilled mushrooms by Amit Naithani; Beetroot Tikki by Satinder Vij

Chef Manu Chandra (Olive Bangalore, Monkey Bar and The Fatty Bao) on Thomas Zacharias

Thomas Zacharias Thomas Zacharias

Thomas Zacharias is someone to watch out for. He trained at the Culinary Institute of America and worked at restaurants such as the three Michelin-starred Le Bernadin in New York, before he returned to India where he worked under me at Olive Beach in Bangalore. He was also Executive Chef at Olive Bar and Kitchen in Bandra, Mumbai. Now, that he’s poised to run the kitchen at Floyd’s (Cardoz, New York-based celebrity chef and owner of Tabla) soon-to-be-opened The Bombay Canteen, Zacharias looks set to dish out some interesting tidbits.

Chef Viraf Patel (Cafe Zoe) on Shilarna Vaze

Shilarna Vaze Shilarna Vaze

I have known Shilarna Vaze (known as chef Chinu on television) right from the days when I worked as Sous Chef at Indigo Colaba. Look out for her as she is going to be all over the place in 2015. She plans to do many pop-up restaurants to showcase her skills, she is expanding her catering business in Mumbai and Goa, creating a YouTube channel and, most interestingly, planning to launch a gourmet food brand.

Chef Sabyasachi Gorai (Fabrica by Chef Saby) on Amit Naithani

Amit Naithani Amit Naithani

It is hard to pick one person but, out of the younger crop, I would choose Amit Naithani, who is handling the kitchen at Amreli in Hotel Diplomat, Delhi. He is armed with the Oberoi stamp of excellence and, being from Lucknow, he has a sort of nawabi approach to his food which he manages to contemporise with dishes such as Sikandari Raan wrapped in filo pastry. I think he has the requisite skill set to become a culinary star in the years to come.

Chef Arun Kumar (Zambar) on Satinder Vij

Satinder Vij Satinder Vij

I think Satinder Vij at Punjab Grill is going to be someone to reckon with. He’s talented and very good in terms of both innovation and presentation. Fusion is the rage in India these days and is going to be this way for the next few years. In a market where everyone’s on the lookout for something exciting and unusual, Vij’s out-of-the-box approach to his food and its visuals is going to take him far.

Chef Manish Mehrotra (Indian Accent) on Rahul Dua

I am sure most of the other chefs have already recommended him (they did!) but for my money, it’s Rahul Dua. He’s doing really interesting things with Indian food at Cafe Lota in Delhi, a restaurant that has made its mark on the market with its unusual takes on the regional foods of India. Dua is very, very good at what he does, which is playing with ingredients. I think he needs to be a little more adventurous, maybe venture out of his comfort zone and explore a fine-dining concept, and he’ll make an indelible impression on our palate.

(with inputs from Meenakshi Iyer)

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