|Chef Vikram Khatri
“Simple things can create miracles”! That’s what Chef Vikram Khatri makes us believe in with his terrific skills with Japanese cuisine at Guppi by Ai. On one such afternoon, we met this no-attitude ( even though bagging the Chef of the Year award in 2010 ), humble and “I know what I serve” Chef and we came home enriched with the knowledge he shared with us about Japanese cuisine.
After having done Hotel Management from Bangalore, he got the opportunity to train himself at the Sakura under 5 International Japanese Chefs and that’s where he learnt the success mantra of cooking which is “You have to know your basics” which he follows till date and recommends to all the upcoming chefs or the staff he works with. In 2007, he worked with The Ocean Room, one of the finest modern Japanese cuisine restaurants in Sydney, and there he recalls, learning happened with pleasure as he got to taste different types of dishes and he wanted to bring his experiences to India. So he joined the Olive Group ( as a part of core team ) to open the famous standalone Japanese restaurant Ai.
He recalls a very interesting incident when he was being chosen to work at Sakura. A well known Japanese Chef was taking the interview, and Vikram, being a fresher was naturally nervous of the questions that he will be loaded with. But surprisingly, the Chef just asked Vikram to show his hands and in a few hours, Vikram got the confirmation of having being chosen. The hand-mystery, which he came to know later on, was to check how clean your hands and nails are, as hygiene plays a very important role for Japanese (or for that matter, any cuisine or restaurant).
We asked his views on molecular gastronomy, and as much as he had tried doing it himself, and also respecting the people who are popularly and successfully adapting the new cuisine in their restaurants, he believes in using fresh and organic ingredients in his food. He likes to experiment and do inventions, but with Japanese cuisine, he prefers to stick to the traditional methods of cooking to keep the taste authentic. He laughs over the fact that he was not very good at Science in his school days, but realised later on that food is all about Science and today understands the importance of it.
Most of the dishes at Guppy are made from scratch and hence he believes having thorough knowledge of the cuisine is important to maintain the balance of flavours, otherwise there are high chances of the dish going wrong altogether. Communicating with the guests, making sure they are comfortable and enjoying the food served to them and always haggling with the suppliers for the high prices they demand for the top-notch ingredients required at the restaurant are some of the other daily chores of this smiling Chef. But what we saw was he seemed happy with what he was doing and that showed in his food. As they say, “The best dish is the one cooked with love and a happy heart”.
We can only say three words to sum up praises for this Chef “Talent meets Technique”.