The Dish: Manish Mehrotra, Indian Accent

Chef Manish Mehrotra, corporate chef at Indian Accent New Delhi, New York and London, started his career in Mumbai as part of Ananda Solomon’s team at the Thai Pavilion of the Taj Hotels. He joined Old World Hospitality in 2000, opening several restaurants around the world and heading up its Oriental Octopus restaurant in New Delhi. Inspired by chef Rick Stein because he prepares “out-of-the-world recipes which, though not fancy, are delicious”, Mehrotra offers an inventive approach to classic Indian cuisine. He lives in New Delhi with his wife and daughter. Indian Accent, owned by Old world Hospitality, was first established in New Delhi before before transplanting its high-end contemporary Indian concept to New York and late last year, London’s Mayfair. Established in 2009 by Rohit Khattar in March 2017, the group’s New Delhi restaurant was named 78th best restaurant in the world at the World’s 50 Best Restaurant awards in 2017 – the only restaurant in India to be featured.

Chef Manish Mehrotra, corporate chef at Indian Accent New Delhi, New York and London.

What/who influenced your decision to become a chef?

It was a very personal decision. I developed a keen interest in the kitchen while I was in catering college.

Can you remember/describe your first shift in a kitchen?

Absolutely. It is a very fond memory which still lingers in my mind. My first shift was at Thai Pavilion – Vivanta by Taj, Mumbai, where I was asked to wash woks in a large quantity.

What is your earliest wine memory?

I was introduced to wines in college while working for a cooking session. That was the first time I used wine in my dish.

What has been your most memorable meal?

Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm. I was blown away.

How important is wine to a meal, from a chef’s point of view?

Wine and food pairing is an imperative combination as wine really helps in enhancing the overall experience of food.

What would be your ultimate food and wine pairing?

Sauvignon Blanc with my all-time favourite Modelo Kerala curry is an ultimate combination.

Who is your inspiration in the winemaking and gastronomic world and why?

I don’t really have an inspiration in winemaking however, I do for the gastronomic world, and that is Thomas Keller.

Biggest kitchen disaster?

Every basic mistake in the kitchen can turn out to be a big disaster. It could be anything from the burning of a dish to be served to a guest to the wrong marinating of the meats… and so many more.

If you could give your younger self advice starting out as a chef, what would it be?

Work hard. Read More. Explore the world. Experiment. Learning is the key to success.

If you weren’t a chef, what would you be doing?

I would have gotten into my family business and running my dad’s gas station.

Besides cooking, which talent would you most like to have?

To be able to play a musical instrument.

What would be your best piece of culinary advice for an aspiring home cook?

Never follow a recipe like a bible, always add your own touches and innovation.

If you could only eat at one restaurant for the rest of your life, where would you choose?

None. It has to be my home kitchen always with my wife and daughter.

What else would you like to achieve in life?

I am working on it.

And finally, what is your life motto?

To keep working and making people happy with every dish I prepare.

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