Le Meridien Kochi’s newly-appointed Executive Chef on his culinary philosophy
A closer look at the annals of Indian gastronomy reveals that our cuisine revolves around simple recipes. But as any novice cook who has attempted to make butter chicken by following an instructional YouTube video would tell you, ‘simple’ does not mean easy. Such uncomplicated and authentic dishes—juxtaposed with the season’s freshest produce—form the crux of chef Pawan Pal Singh Maini’s culinary doctrine.
Hailing from Faridabad, chef Pawan’s tryst with cooking began over two decades ago and since then, this IHM Mumbai alumnus has prepared appetising nourishment for everyone from former US president Bill Clinton to prime minister Narendra Modi. Having joined Le Meridien Kochi, three weeks ago as an executive chef, I catch up with the 41-year-old for lunch within the warm and inviting Latest Recipe restaurant.
It only takes one bite of the first dish to grace my table, a Lucknowi Gosht Alubukhara, to infer that Pawan is yearning to re-engineer the menu at this five-star deluxe property. As I temporarily lose myself—by immersing a flaky lachha paratha into sweet plum gravy coating the tender leg of lamb slathered in red chilli paste—he explains that his first order of business is enhancing the hotel’s brunch experience.
“Ember is no longer a museum restaurant, we’ll be relaunching it in a new avatar soon. A-la-carte updates are also being planned, by merging it with our in-house organic garden,” adds Pawan, who previously helmed Radisson Blu (Ludhiana) and Oakwood Premier (Pune) as the Chef de Cuisine.
After stepping into the kitchens for a pedagogical intervention, Pawan returns with two surprises—albondigas and penne pasta liguria. “My forte is desi, but I used to own and operate The Palace Fine Indian Cuisine restaurant in Florida (from 2002 to 2012). By catering to the needs of the Latin-American and Italian clientele in the region, my palate has evolved,” claims the imposing figure, as I delve into the dumpling-like poached beef meatballs wallowing in a robust tomato sauce and slightly chewy pasta cooked in pesto topped with grated parmesan.
Meal for two `1,800 onwards.
Image courtesy: instagram.com/gichutom