If it weren’t for the rains hitting us right now, Pune would have been welcoming winters,” says Rohit Chaddha, Chef De Cuisine at Zeta, Hyatt Regency, Pune. To give the city a taste of winter, Chaddha has planned a food festival that will take diners on a trip to the largest mountain range of Europe, the Alps. The table is laid with dishes such as Cheese Fondue, Rösti, Schnitzel and Spätzle, that are staple or a specialty in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, France, Germany and other Alpine countries. Excerpts from an interview with Chaddha:
What sets the cuisine of the Alps apart as we travel from one country to another?
Although the climate is more or less the same through the Alpine countries, we see changes in ingredients and the cheeses. There is a lot of emphasis on meats and dairy, since in low temperatures you need high calorie intake and highly nutritious food. The use of dry-aged meat and the cheese differs extensively as one travels from one country to another.
Is there is any cooking method that stands out in the cuisine, and have you showcased that in the festival?
Pan searing, grilling, poaching and stewing are among the main types of cooking methods being used in the Alpine regions. Smoking is something that really stands out for me and we are showcasing this in the festival.
How did you learn or research the cuisine?
I have had the opportunity of working with chefs who have been on top of the game with Scandinavian and Italian cuisine. Executive Chef, Chef Anirban, is trained in classical Italian cuisine and I looked up to him for guidance. You cannot just pick a book and plan a festival like this. It comes from experience and sound knowledge of ingredients and cooking techniques. My senior chef keeps me in check with regard to too much experimentation and my juniors drive the kitchen. So, all in all, we have good team work.
What are the dishes that stand out for you?
We have some classic dishes on the menu that are made from local ingredients, such as Potato Roesti, which is classic yet beautiful. We are making Mushroom Ragout and Mac and Cheese as well, which we are pairing with Goan chorizo sausages. The classic Coq Au Vin is made with Kadaknath Chicken and is served with local indrayani rice risotto.
How have you aligned the tastes of the Alps to that of Indians?
The idea is to marry Alpine cuisine with local ingredients to come up with something unique and flavourful. We have aligned the taste with the use of local ingredients such as the local short grain rice for risotto. Our desserts use sitaphal and fruits, which are in season now, and Classical Baba Au Rhum.
The festival is on till November 24, 11 am to 11 pm. Contact: +91 20 66451618