The modern menu and the men behind it: Abhijit Saha

They’re known to transform the staid to the splendid, ordinary to the extraordinary and all this with complete panache and finesse. They can go to extraordinary lengths to serve that one perfect meal that will leave a lasting impression. Their offerings whipped from the freshest ingredients can make any diner sink in their teeth and go gaga over their epicurean delights. And it’s not just about the food memories they help create that tend to last a lifetime, but also the extreme reverence and warmth with which they handle their modus operandi. Meet these restaurateurs who are at the helm of culinary affairs in their kitchens serving a treasure trove of culinary treats and are clearly the talk of the town for all the right reasons.

Text: Namita Gupta.

Abhijit Saha, Chef, Entrepreneur and Co-founder, Caperberry and Fava (Avant Garde Hospitality Pvt. Ltd.)

The entrepreneurial plunge: Guest judge of MasterChef India 2016, ‘Chef of the Year’ and ‘Best Chef of India’ award winner at the Indian Restaurant Congress, Abhijit has several feathers in his chef’s cap. After passing out from the Institute of Hotel Management, Pusa, New Delhi, he worked with Taj Group of Hotels followed by The Manor Hotel and The Park Hotels. “After working as a Chef in hotels for many years, I decided to become a Chef-Entrepreneur with my first restaurant Caperberry in 2009; followed by Fava a year later in Bengaluru and Saha in Singapore in 2014. I had worked long in the industry and felt it was the right time for me to take the plunge. My latest project Red Rhino – Craft Brewery & Inspired Kitchen in Whitefield, Bengaluru is a combination of a brewpub and dining destination. The menu is inspired by global cuisine and food that pairs well with a variety of beer. I am also in the process of opening RockSalt, Indian Bar & Restaurant near St Marks Road with a focus on Indian tapas and cocktails.

Technovations: “Caperberry was the first restaurant to introduce molecular gastronomy and molecular mixology in India.  I’m someone who loves to thrive on creativity and innovations. From 2001 to 2008 as Executive Chef of The Park, I introduced several new cuisines to Bengaluru at a time when there wasn’t enough buzz about eating out. With Caperberry I introduced modernist cuisine and Fava brought in Mediterranean cuisine to the city in a comprehensive manner. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of work towards modernising Indian cuisine and presenting regional Indian food with its rich flavours to a global audience in Singapore,” states the man who’s earned the tag of the “Forever Young Chef,” adding, “One of the most important trends right now is sustainability and of being aware of wellness through food. The new menu at Fava is all about sustainability that supports the local farmers with local seasonal produce, utilising resources in a manner that is environment friendly and encouraging organic and whole grains. We believe in food that is not just flavourful and well presented, but also great for health, for instance hormone-free chicken, deep sea fish/ seafood, grass-fed lamb and organic vegetables and fruits and also whole grains like black rice, millets and quinoa.”

Food & wine trails: The chef who enjoys F1 racing, wines, travel, architecture, design and photography loves to take his food and wine trails across the world seriously and has been to many such. “I went to Italy recently for the ‘Great Italian Wines or Asia’ program in Rome ad Umbria where I tasted over 300 Italian wines and dined in some great restaurants over a period of 4 days. Following this I visited Piedmont and Tuscany. In Alba, I enjoyed the truffle festival and enjoyed the unlimited truffle dinner at 2 Michelin Star Restaurant La Ciao del Tornavento and then went to the Barolo and Barbaresco for some amazing wines. In Tuscany there was more great food and wines as I made my journey through Florence, Siena, Chianti and San Gimignano. Last year I had hopped across prominent vineyards across Napa Valley again besides visiting San Francisco and Los Angeles. In the past I have enjoyed my food and wine tours across Spain and Australia,” shares Abhijit.

Caperberry and Fava (UB City), Café Cassia (Cinnamon Boutique, Ulsoor) in Bengaluru and Saha in Singapore.