Back in the year 2000, Indian taste-buds had just began to open up to international cuisines. The F&B industry was going through a revolution and chefs were trying something new when it came to the food they were offering gastronomes. It was during this time UK-born and bred, Chef Shaun Kenworthy who began his career in Yorkshire, Manchester and London arrived.
Having become quite a name in the 'food scene' ever since his arrival, the Chef decided to set roots in India itself and soon after settled down in Kolkata.
Chef Kenworthy recently descended to one of SoBo’s most popular fine dine spot, Doppio Bar and Brasserie to curate a menu that combines flatbread with a variety of organic fresh produce and is sure to excite everyone. With a variety Flatbreads topped with Mixed Mushroom, Mascarporne and Shaved Truffle to Roast Pumpkin with Spicy Kale, Ricotta and Gremolata, Chef Shaun’s USP is the attention to detail right from produce sourcing to the method used whilst cooking to eventually the plating.
Speaking to this correspondent, the Chef talks about his passion for food, the USP of the menu and the position of Indian cuisine globally.
How did food happen to you?
I spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was little she was a great cook and interestingly, my Mum had a couple of catholic spinster aunts who were constantly baking cakes for the church. I used to love going to their house and probably had a lot to do with me starting my career as a pastry chef in all honesty
Tell us a bit about the new menu you created for Doppio Bar and Brasserie
For me food is all about putting beautifully simple fresh plates of food together with ingredients and flavours from all over the world. The Doppio menu is all about that
What do you think will be the USP of the menu?
There is a lot of emphasis on sharing with all of the nibbles, flat breads etc and we put a lot of thought and effort in strengthening the vegetarian and Jain offerings keeping in mind Doppio’s location in the city.
Which one is your personal favourite? Why?
I don’t really have favourites as such but if I was to give one item then I’d probably have to say the Pumpkin and Crorizo flatbread with the Morrocan chicken and sweet potato salad
Why flatbreads? What is your cooking style like? Who are your inspirations?
I love to keep things fresh simple and rustic and as for inspirations, I’ve always been a fan of people like Alice Waters of Chez Panisse fame and the older cookery writers such as Elizabeth David and Jane Grigson for their everything as fresh, local and seasonal as possible approach.
Where according to you the Indian food industry stands in the current global scenario?
Indian food is growing in popularity every year globally but I think when it comes to long term, all those big Indian flavours, which are mainly localized, traditional and regional is what will propel Indian food globally even further.
What is the newest fad in the food industry?
I think the whole world is all about back to basic’s today and you know, I’ve spent my life in food and seen fads and trends keep coming and going and coming back again but I’ve always preferred to be a trend watcher rather than take any of that too seriously as good simple hearty plates of food the whole world over still keep winning and are always in fashion.
If you are not cooking professionally, what do you love eating/cooking at home? Who cooks you or your wife?
I love cooking at home and tend to keep things simple, lots of one pot meals, grilled meats and fish and simple composite salads. Pinky is also a great cook and has a great sense of creating flavours, if a little reluctant though and would rather tell everyone that it’s my kitchen.
What is your soul food?
It depends where I am, fish and chips as soon as I land in the UK from my local chippy, Tom Kah Goong in Thailand, Butter chicken in Delhi, bus loads of pork in Spain etc and at home maybe a simple chicken, beef or pork stew cooked with lots of root veggies, a side of rice and some homemade mustard and vinegar pickled vegetables.
How do you source your produce? How important is fresh produce in a menu?
I always think fresh is much more important to me than the customer and continually looking at new sources for that. I’m the brand ambassador for Earth Day Network in India which focuses on finding sustainable and organic everything and our list keeps expanding every week with someone new
What are the things you love cooking the most?
I think I’m still most happy given the opportunity making bread and wallowing around in chocolate
How different is the scene in Mumbai when it comes to food as compared to Kolkata, where you are mainly based?
Calcutta and Bombay are both cities steeped in food history over centuries of travellers and communities coming and going so in many ways historically not that dissimilar although Calcutta has much more street food and of course our beautiful Chinese community and in many ways the Calcutta food scene is still much more about history and heritage, although slowly but surely Calcutta is changing and coming into the food century Bombay has been in for the past 20 years.
Do you suppose the f&b industry is now experimenting more with food?
Much more than any other point in history the world over and for sure it will continue.
Where do you see the f&b industry 5 years down the line?
International flavours and ingredients will continue to be fused with each other and we’ll continue to have more and more new combinations of flavour.
How has the restaurant scenario changed over the last five years in India?
Over the past lets say seven years India has gone from having primarily traditional cooks cooking food to a whole new generation of youngsters creating some great food and brand concepts and also the customer demand as everyone is so exposed to food these days through TV magazines and online. Food is everywhere.
Do you believe when it comes to the menu and food, less is more?
Always, I just wish the Indian customer could understand that a menu with few choices that is freshly written each day will always be the best meal you could ever eat in a restaurant.
And finally, if not a chef, then what?
Artist or pig farmer....