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Sanjana Patel, 35, Creative Director & Executive Chef, La Folie, Mumbai
Pastry Queen Of India | A distant dream “To own a cocoa plantation and make my own chocolate.”
Sanjana Patel shares a special relationship with chocolate – one of reverence, love and discovery.
It was two years ago, when she broke her leg on a surfing holiday that Sanjana Patel, ironically, found a firm footing.
At this point, her notes from training as a chocolate technologist with global giants like Pierre Hermé came in handy. She bounced back as a bean-to-bar chocolate maker. Patel steps out of her comfort zone to share her craft at The Classroom by La Folie, where even home bakers without a culinary degree get a chance to work in her kitchen.
She was crowned India’s Pastry Queen in 2015 and ranked as the 4th Best Pastry Chef globally at the World Pastry Queen Competition in 2016.
She has embarked on a journey to create chocolate from its origin – the bean. She travelled to cacao farms across four continents to source the best beans for creating the finest blends of couverture chocolate.
Prateek Sadhu, 33, Executive Chef & Co-owner, Masque, Mumbai
Prateek Sadhu ‘11 is executive chef and co-owner of Masque. His first exposure to a kitchen was in 1990. He was four, watching his mother cook in a Jammu refugee camp, for their family that had recently fled from Srinagar. Born in Kashmir in 1986, Prateek grew up around family farms, learning the basics of the kitchen from his aunt and mother. This natural curiosity for food soon derailed initial plans to become a commercial pilot; instead, he enrolled at a hotel management school in India, before graduating from The Culinary Institute of America with double gold medals.
It was during a trip to intern at Noma in Copenhagen, the scene-defining restaurant of the last 20 years, that Sadhu found his perception permanently altered. Observing how Noma’s hyper-local ‘time and place’ philosophy led to dishes that told the story of Nordic cuisine without simply rehashing traditional meals, Sadhu realised how he could head home and develop a style of Indian cuisine that was truly tied to the natural bounties of his land, without being bound to the stereotypes that are associated with the country’s cooking. This was the genesis of what he now calls his “wilderness-to-table” philosophy, which encompasses practically every positive trend in food right now: it’s farm-to-fork, forage-led, vegetable-forward, sustainable, and zero-waste. And what’s more, it is founded on a love and understanding of India’s culinary and cultural diversity, as well the sharing and giving that is so fundamental to home life in the country.
In recent years, Prateek Sadhu has brought little-known Kashmiri ingredients to the fore, foraging and collaborating actively to bring revelatory dishes to diners.
Vignesh Ramachandran, 27, Director of Culinary Design, Once Upon a Time, Hotel Greenpark, Hyderabad
Vignesh Ramachandran is a one-man army fighting to give South Indian cuisine a seat at the table. “South Indian food is so under-represented in the Indian culinary scene. South Indian restaurants themselves focus on fish curries or Chettinad chicken. Where is the food we grew up eating?” he asks. “I want to delve into familiar dishes and elevate them to restaurant-quality fare. Take our Madurai kari dosa, for instance. We top this uttapam with chicken pepper fry and a 63-degree egg, boiled sous vide. We then serve it with a coconut chicken jus to die for. We don’t need wasabi and Parmesan to make this interesting. The original ingredients are enough.”
Chef Vignesh Ramachandran is a foodie and has travelled the world but, the executive chef at Vasantha Bhavan Signature is partial to South Indian food.
Hanisha Singh, 32, Chef Patron, Plats, Delhi
Food is a family affair for Hanisha Singh, who co-owns Plats in Delhi, along with her husband. Called the power couple of Delhi’s FB scene bring hearty food to people at inexpensive prices (where they could’ve charged a lot more).
Plats opened in October 2019 – a contemporary international cuisine serving comforting yet refined dishes from around the globe, with seasonal ingredients and their own unique spin.
“This particular spot came to us twice, and we were like let us look at it seriously. We never met anyone who we’d want to partner with, so one thing was sure that whatever we open will be ours, which was also a big risk.” “But everything started falling in place, and you don’t want to break the flow…” chips in Bhote. A turnaround time of three months—from ideating to a spanking space — while they simultaneously wrapped up other work commitments gives you an insight into their efficacy.