When there’s a new Star Chef in the city, you never decline an invite. And absolutely not when he’s a Belagavi lad coming back to his roots after two decades. So it was an evening of celebrating Japanese cuisine with the legendary Chef Abhijit Chavan Patil who has recently joined the Fairfield by Marriott at Belagavi as the Head Chef.
Abhijit is a Belagavi boy, who studied at Marathi Vidyaniketan and completed his graduation in Commerce from BK College Belagavi. He comes from a family that owned the pioneer in open garden restaurants in Belagavi, Vimal Lawns.
His interest in culinary studies led him to Goa at ACE for a three-year course. During that time, he reminisces; he never took any money from home and used only his paltry stipend for all his expenses. “I worked for 17 to 18 hours during my early career,” he says, adding that that is the time when young people should put in all the hard work. You can reap the benefits later, he says. He was very fortunate to be at the right place at the right time, starting off with the historic Taj Mahal Palace Hotel at Colaba – Mumbai when it began Wasabi by Morimoto, the Japanese restaurant.
He worked there from 2005 to 2012 and gained experience and fame for his mastery of Japanese cuisine. For someone who loved his Indian and spicy food, this was a huge change. He went on to work for Taj Krishna at Hyderabad and also the Taj Falaknuma there till 2013. He then joined The Leela Group in Bangalore as the Sous Chef at their new Zen- Japanese restaurant and worked there for 9.5 years to become the Head Chef. During that tenure, he also worked at the launch of their London-based Japanese restaurant Koyn, but the climate didn’t suit him and he returned to India after setting up the team and the menu. Several restaurants headed by Chef Abhijit went on to win coveted awards in the Pan-Asian category for many years.
He came back to Belagavi when he found an opportunity to offer Japanese cuisine at Fairfield by Marriott. It’s a homecoming after almost 20 years. Abhijit is one of the 16 chefs who started out at the first Japanese restaurant in India under the legendary Masaharu Morimoto, also known as the Iron Chef. Of those original 16, only 3 to 4 are left today in this field.
Asked about how well Belagavi is ready to welcome Japanese cuisine, Chef Abhijit says that the big metro cities regularly have Japanese tourists, businessmen, and delegations who love to try their authentic dishes. Belagavi has also been exposed to Pan Asian cuisine of late since people travel and know good food.
Japanese cuisine is considered minimalistic but strictly adheres to quality and seeks perfection. While Indian food looks at additions to bring out the flavors, Japanese food looks at deletions to retain the original flavours of any ingredient.
Chef Abhijit presented his signature dishes at Chef’s table for a group of invited guests.
APPETIZER Ichimi Tarabagani – Sake flambéed crab, baked with spicy creamy mayo served with tobiko and scallion. Avocado Tartare– Avocado & tanuki tartare with spicy creamy mayo, teriyaki drizzle.
SALAD – Yam Som O Pomelo tossed salad, prepped with roasted coconut, crisp onion, bird’s eye chili, mint, and palm jaggery dressing
MAIN COURSE Hachisunoha Chilean Seabass Miso Yuzu & miso glazed Chilean seabass, served with fresh shimeji and baby spinach. Kinoko Sukiyaki Fresh assorted mushrooms & tofu simmered in sweet soy and mirin broth.
DESSERT- Tub Tim Krob Jellied water chestnut and lychee in sweet coconut cream with tender coconut ice cream.
Each dish is a work of art with its subtle flavours, textures and layers. The Chef also explained all the steps, some lasting over 35 hours, in preparing each dish. Certain key ingredients like Yuzu & miso which were specially flown in fresh from Dubai for this event.
Fairfield by Marriott is soon launching its Japanese menu under Chef Abhijit Chavan Patil but one can book a special session for limited guests. Contact Mr. Chinu for details: 9071426940