South Indians Sparkle

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Stop press. Our very own Keralaites are making international headlines. They are being applauded and awarded. Celebrated and feted. I must confess that though I’m a North Indian, I’ve always had a big fat soft corner for South Indians and South India. It was during my tenure in the Indian Revenue Service (I resigned as commissioner of tax after working for 15 years) that I got to know South Indians closely. And since then have been a fan. So it is with great delight and pride that I write about the  three superstars…

2 MICHELIN STARS IN SAN FRANCISCO

He’s the only Indian chef in the world to receive two Michelin stars. Soft spoken, brilliant Keralite Chef Srijith Gopinathan grew up being influenced by his grandmothers cooking and the exotic spices in his Kerala home’s  backyard. From the perfumed kitchen of his family to culinary school and then working with  Raymond Blanc, the genius of cuisine in London gave Srijith a huge headstart.  For six years in a row, Chef Srijith earned a\Michelin star and it was just recently that he got the highly coveted two stars.

I had his most mindblowingoriginal Californian-Indian masterpieces in San Francisco’smost prominent century old, award-winning landmark hotel restaurant located in Campton Place, the throbbing heart of this beautiful city. Helmed by the dynamic and charming AshrafiMatcheswala who never ceases to amaze me with her prowess in hospitality but also as an award winning marathoner. It was with the two of them that I not only tripped out on an amazing dinner but also learnt more about the  Dungness crabs, famous over here. Infact Chef Srijith has shared his fabulous recipes of “Crab and peaches” but space constraint prevents me from including it here. Should you need it please mail, tweet or instagam @rashmiudaysingh

COOKING UP HISTORY IN NEW YORK

Making waves in New york city and getting rave reviews for his brand new Perineis  executive chef AshferBiju. This brilliant and friendly Keralite chef heads up NYC’s  85 year old iconic landmark which keeps reinventing itself.  Escoffier, the King of French chefs (and codifier of French cuisine,) did all the initial menus  at this magnificent  stately Pierre. Today,  AshferBiju is making history again. To bring back the era of celebration of food and dinind, he researched menus and recipes from 1930s 40s and 50s (when Pierre had opened its doors to public.  He found dishes / recipes that are classic which fell into three categories – New York Classic, French Classic & Pierre Classic – with several overlaps. While some classics are retained with its original recipe,  other dishes are made relevant using local produce from Upstate New York and Long Island.Interestingly there is a spice thread which runs through the menu and pays tribute to “The Pierre Grill” one of the first (or the first) fine dining Indian restaurant that existed at the hotel in 1950s. I not only taste history here but have many an amazing meal withJoint-degree holder from  the finest in America and France, the great wit and dynamo Francois Olivier Luigi. He helms this exquisite icon  andnot only ensures that it  retains it’s historic grandeur (handpainted murals et al) but also rocks ahead youthfully. Chef AshferBiju and Michael Mignano  share many a superb recipe with us, should you need it please mail, instagram or tweet @rashmiudaysingh

GOURMAND WORLD COOKBOOK AWARD WINNER

“Best Indian cookbook in the world” is her most recent award given by the numero uno Edourard Cointreau of the highly prestigious and coveted Gourmand World cookbook awards. These awards are the worlds most respected and sought after, global culinary awards. Nimi Sunil Kumar, Our very own Conoor resident, was given this honor in China recently.  She is a  highly accomplished author/culinary teacher/freelance writer / food photographer and a part time food blogger/ dietitian.  It is for her third cookbook “4 o’clock temptations of kerala” that she won the title “Best Indian cookbook in the world ” (209 countries competed for it)

She has written three books on authentic Kerala cooking. “Lip smacking dishes of Kerala”.The book bagged the third place for the “Best Local Cuisine Book in the world” in Beijing in 2014. She started “Nimi’s Lip Smacking Classes” in Jan 2012 for foreigners and for these is listed on international websites and books and has received many a certificate of excellence.

Congratulations to all three. You do not just South India but also India proud! Jai ho.

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GLOBAL AWARD WINNERS: Chef Srijith Gopinathan and Ashrafi Matcheswala ( Sanfrancisco, by the sea ). 2) chef Ashfer Biju and Francois Olivier Luigi ( NYC) 3) Edouard Cointreau awarding Nimi Sunil Kumar in Beijing.
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