The secret lives of chefs

Theirs are the minds behind the country’s outstanding fine-dining menus. But what are these chefs’ personal food peccadilloes and where do they get their best bites? 

kelvin cheung
Former executive chef, Ellipses, Mumbai
American classics got a contemporary do-over in his hands (sample: The deconstructed Rocky Road). For this third-generation chef and Chicago local who moved to India, simple cooking with a focus on local produce is what he lives for.

Comfort food: Soup. Hearty, brothy soup. With lots of vegetables and bones.
Food staples: Coffee and Diet Coke are permanent food groups of mine. And, meat. Pork, specifically.
Antidote to a night of drinking: Afghani curry at King of Iran, Byculla. The lamb or chicken rolls from Ayub’s at Kala Ghoda or Bade Miya, Colaba.
Cravings: There’s no telling, I’m like a pregnant woman. Right now, I could use some chicken feet. Or oysters.
Weirdest food you’ve tasted: Horse tartar in Toronto. Hot pot, which includes chicken testicles and pig brain, at Phoenix, my family’s restaurant in Chinatown, Chicago. And whale sperm at my favourite sushi restaurant, Zen, in Toronto, again.

alez sanchez
Executive chef, The Table, Mumbai
He’s just 30 and has already stood shoulder-to-skillet with culinary hotshots like Roland Passot and David Kinch. And since he has assumed the reins at The Table, he’s garnered countrywide recognition for his highly technical and intuitive approach to food.

Lazy snack: A fried egg sandwich with crispy bacon and lots of mayonnaise.
Strange food habit: I love chewing on the cartilage from chicken bones. In fact, I’m likely to eat most of the bone itself.
Staple ingredient: I can’t do without onions. They play a fundamental role in the layering of flavours for many of my dishes.
Best addresses for fresh produce in the city: Crawford Market and Sahakari Bhandar.
Kitchen cheat: I don’t like to use artificial flavouring, but white truffle oil (which is most certainly artificial) can be great, if used correctly and sparingly.


Chef and owner, Le Poisson Rouge, Om Made Café, Goa
French cooking meets local flavours  in this glocal chef’s attempt to cater to a market “attached to tradition, but learning to look beyond”. A staunch proponent of pleasurable yet healthy eating, Bazire has a raw food menu at both Om Made outlets in Goa – the best way to simmer down on a blistering day by the sea.

Favourite restaurant in the city: Bomras, Candolim. The beef salad and the grilled calamari salad are delicious.
Favourite after-hours hang-out: Cavala Resort, Calangute. The ambience is fantastic and it is a great place to meet people.
Weirdest food you’ve tasted: Goat stomach, in Morocco. 
Indulgence: Grilled marshmallows drenched in chocolate.
Best address for fresh produce in the city: Ambrosia Organic Farm, Baga. They grow vegetables and supply cold pressed sunflower oil, wild honey, golden sugar, sundried tomatoes, muesli, barley porridge and much more. 


Group executive chef fine dine at Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality Pvt Ltd
The young chef who heads the group that gave us some of our favourite places like Salt Water Cafe, Smoke House Deli and Social Offline has redefined the way we eat classic European food.

Favourite Indian street food: Sev batata puri.
Comfort food: My mother’s Pakhat (Skate Fish) curry with rice.
Favourite drink in the city: Hendricks with tonic, anywhere in the city. 
Cravings: Fatty Duck liver on toast.
Weirdest food you’ve tasted: Crispy Bulls Dicks at Bror in Copenhagen.

thomas Z

Executive chef, The Bombay Canteen, Mumbai
Prodigy to celebrity chef Floyd Cardoz, he champions the modern Indian food trend with a side of quirk and fun.

Favourite Indian street food: Paani Puri, because it’s so simple yet a fantastic burst of textures and flavours in one bite. I get my weekly fix of at least three plates!
Comfort food: Kerala duck and potato curry with puttu, because my grandmom used to cook it for me growing up and it reminds me of her every time. It’s the first thing I eat every time I go back home to Cochin.
Favourite drink in the city: Sugarcane juice at the local ganna-wala. In addition to the fact that it is delicious and refreshing, there’s a thrill to it because it has to be freshly juiced.
Secret food shopping address: Mahima stores in Bandra for all kinds of unusual Indian knick-knacks.
Favourite after-hours hang-out: Not too many places are open past my work hours, but on my day off Three Wise Men in Santacruz for Monday night karaoke. It’s where I get to catch up with friends, unwind and sing my heart out!


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