Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Farm to Fork as a concept is a relatively new trend in India, but it is worldwide and growing. That said, it is as old as time.

A few months ago I visited the ‘Phillipkutty farm’ in Allepy in search of Vanilla and went in for a tour with Aniamma who explained how orchids are grown and most importantly pollinated. She walked me down to the shade houses on the farm and pointed out various plants along the way which were home to many new baby orchid plants. She explained that patience is a necessary trait for vanilla farming. Plus, it is incredibly labour intensive, the vanilla orchids are pollinated one by one by hand, which is why vanilla is so expensive. The tour came to an end with a delicious home cooked Syrian Christian meal with many ingredients from her farm which left me thinking! The meal was decadent and tasted so fresh and to my joy I discovered that more and more chefs today focus on seasonal produce and supporting local farmers.

Kitchen Team at the Renaissance Hotel, Mumbai
Most restaurants now offer menus inspired by a myriad of seasonal ingredients and international techniques. While polished local ingredients are a rarity, Chefs are now feeling strongly about supporting local and as such, frequent the market multiple times weekly to pick what’s ripe and to standard. Some restaurants even practice a “No-No” list and aim to offer the best selection and quality of Food and Beverage to all guests. Any resources that are endangered or mismanaged; genetically modified or ill-treated are not served, and are added to the list. Free range meats are used; the majority of vegetables are grown on the site itself and are 100% organic. Television is another media which creates awareness and Chefs are being featured on food shows creating and discussing this epicurean revolution.
 “Sustainability and nutrition are becoming key themes in Bangalore, with the increased popularity of Fine Dining stand-alone restaurants like Caperberry, Fava, Tatva, Shiro, etc. Micro-Breweries like the Biere Club, Toit, and Left of Centre”, shares Abhijit Saha, Founding Director and Chef- Caperberry and Fava
Roasted Beet Salad at The Table, Mumbai
Avant Garde Hospitality. At “The Table” in Mumbai chef Alex turns out a globally inspired menu which reflects his collective experiences and changes daily depending on availability of the best produce. It has influences of the San Francisco style of cooking which is translated through sourcing fresh local ingredients and ensuring each dish is distinctively unique in flavour and texture.
Herb garden at The Renaissance, Mumbai
“The idea behind of having an in-house “Chef’s Garden” is to provide the guests with nothing but the freshest of ingredients grown and supervised by the team of Chefs, to incorporate the all organic vegetables in the restaurant menu. The concept goes well with one of the core values of brand Renaissance – being Indigenous, to be self – sustained, green and local. For the Chef’s Garden the hotel has specially sourced black soil from Pune. The garden produces Iceberg lettuce, Curled lettuce, Red lettuce, Red cabbage, Brinjal – 3, 4 varieties (white, round, long), Carrots, Radish round, Celery, Eggplants - 4 varieties (Thai, oblong etc.), Beans, Tomato cherry, Tomato pusa red, Sweet peppers, Hot peppers, Lemon grass is grown in the farm along with exotic flowers like Flower Nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus) and Exotic candy. The fresh produce is used in the restaurants of the hotel - Fratelli Fresh, Emperor's Court and Lake View Café. The garden is a size of 2 basketball courts but the hotel will soon expand the space because the demand for the organic produce is over whelming and the hotel plans to produce more fruits and vegetables in house to offer the guests the best in the city”, says Surjan Singh Jolly, Executive Chef at the Renaissance Hotel and convention centre Mumbai.
Chef Saby of Olive
At Olive Beach and Mehrauli in Delhi Chef Sabyasachi Gorai launches a Farm to fork menu every winter, which he feels “is an initiative to offer the freshest local produce to our customers ensuring your meal is as natural, as organic as it can be. It’s also a step towards providing sustenance to the local farmers. This menu's ingredients are sourced from local farms and are almost all organic. This also reduces carbon foot print for transporting produces from far off places. Also it boosts economy of the local farms”, says Saby.
Chef Shaun kenworthy
 “Understanding more about our food, how it tastes and where it comes from makes the act of eating all the more pleasurable. There ought to be practical lessons in school which are as integral as a music or dance lesson wherein children are taught to gather fruits for example strawberries Guavas or whatever. Together, in a much-needed exercise for all ages, they’re learning exactly where our food comes from, how it gets onto our plates, and why eating locally grown vegetables and fruits even if that equates to sweet tooth-friendly strawberry shortcake is the first step in global salvation”, says Shaun Kenworthy a senior chef consultant based out of Kolkata.
As for me my dream cuisine experience would be a visit to the local market with a Chef at buying fresh ingredients followed by a cook off and lunch at his restaurant. There would be no menu, just what the chef decides to cook each day from the freshest market ingredients. Trust me, at a time when organic and fresh are the words on every foodie’s lips, my dream never seems more modern even if the recipe is centuries old. It did happen for me in paris ....a yummy gourmet meal cooked by chef cyril in paris!
Chef cyril at cuisine attitude, Paris

 published in The Man