I met the Demon Chef at JW Marriott Michelin pop up

26 Nov

Why would a chef call himself ‘The Demon Chef,’ I wondered as I drove to JW Marriott Juhu for the second edition of the Michelin pop up with three star Michelin chef Alvin Leung. Was he ill-tempered? Maybe he looked…you know… or maybe he’s demonic in the kitchen…all these thoughts crossed my mind as I entered Spices our venue for the chef’s table.

As I took my seat I kept turning towards the open kitchen at the back to catch a glimpse of the Demon Chef but all I saw was a rock star looking guy with a funky hairdo. Could this be the chef? Well he definitely was! I decided to reserve my questions (and my judgement) for later and get down to doing what I do best – eat!

Chef Leung doesn’t look like the average Chinese chef and that’s probably because he isn’t. He’s doing to Asian food what Ferran Adrià is doing to Spanish and European food. Chef Leung has invented what he calls ‘Xtreme Chinese’ where he presents heirloom Chinese dishes with a modern twist. Newer ingredients, innovative cooking techniques, dramatic presentations and novel tastes – that’s Chef Leung’s forte.

The first course of dim sums was refreshing. I loved the shrimp dumpling with truffle on top. It was miraculously light with a translucent skin. The Sichuan lamb dumpling was filled with a soup that shot out when you pierced the casing. Chef Leung deconstructs traditional Chinese food and brings them back in a completely different form. So the dishes taste new but not without a strong sense of déjà vu. It shocks you in the beginning but delights you in the end.

pic5The best dish for me was the delicately poached lobster on a bed of spicy Sichuan hollandaise and chilli sauce. The dish stunning to look at, was a veritable explosion of flavours, colours and textures.  Interestingly this tattooed demon chef is one of the only two self-taught chefs in charge of a professional kitchen that has ever received Michelin stars, with the other being Heston Blumenthal. Impressive.

pic6The next course of organic chicken with Arborio rice, wood ear fungus and sand ginger cream was sublime and beautifully presented. Though the rice had a nice bite and the chicken a crispy skin, the ginger cream lacked a punch. I missed a strong element in the dish.  The concluding course of coconut ice-cream with glazed pineapple and tapioca pearls was delectable.

pic7For the Michellin popup at JW Marriott Juhu Chef Leung has consciously raised the heat bar. “I won’t call it spicy but I did turn on the heat a little for Indian palate. But hot doesn’t necessarily have to be more chillies,” he added. Carving a dish out of the Mumbai stable the Bombay Duck is something the chef is toying with.

Leung’s dishes are not without the drama. So expect fumes, powders, foams, unrecognisable reductions and scientist like cooking methods. But despite all that Leung’s food is what food should be – tasty!

IMG_1350At the end of the meal the demon presented himself and I couldn’t help but notice the calm on the chef’s face. After all, the first night (which is generally the most difficult) was done with and he was now facing a bunch of happy diners.

So why does he call himself the demon chef? “Well not all demons are bad. Moreover nice is boring,” says Hong Kong’s most innovative chef. I agree.

Michelin pop up at JW Marriott

Date: 25th-28th Nov, 2015

Service: Lunch & Dinner

Price: 4500 per person+ taxes(without alcohol)


Work, Play, Chill at FLYP@MTV

25 Nov

low res FLYP @ MTV (2)Viacom18 Consumer Products, the consumer products arm of Viacom18, is all set to extend the iconic youth brand MTV, from broadcast and digital space to an on-ground experience by launching a chain of cafés titled FLYP@MTV. The hospitality partner for this unique association will be Funbars Hospitality Pvt. Ltd. Funbars will be the master licensee that conceptualizes, develops, executes and operates the chain.

The first FLYP@MTV will make its debut at Connaught Place in New Delhi in the month of December. The plan is to open 10 more cafes in the next five years beginning with Mumbai and Bangalore.

lo rews Flyp @ MTVAccording to Saugato Bhowmik, Senior Vice-President, Consumer Products, Viacom 18 Media Pvt. Ltd., apart from specially curated entertainment and a menu by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar, FLYP@MTV will also function as an extended workspace during the day and transform into a place to chill in the evening and a play zone at night. “The café will be fun, irreverent and entertaining,” he adds.

low res Flyp 1

Here’s what you can expect at FLYP@MTV
Explore the world of MTV in the previous years through Oculus and Controllers. Customer can also select and play videos from the MTV Archive.

Book a Bakra: Consumers can book pranks which can be recorded through hidden cameras and mics. You can book your buddy for a hilarious Bakra – MTV Style.

Select and buy MTV merchandise right through the virtual shelf.

FLYP@MTV will be equipped with MTV style recording studio for the audience who are gifted with the capability of singing.  One can record the songs and upload it after reviewing audio and video file of the song. There will be headphones, touch-screens, microphones and cameras available for the same.

The café’s culinary style hinges upon progressive Indian food – local flavours presented in a global style created by celebrity chef Ranveer Brar.




Molecular Magic at PaPaYa

25 Nov

Pa Pa Ya, Palladium, Mumbai (01)If you blinked this year, you probably missed a restaurant opening. So many newcomers popped up. But Zorawar Kalra’s Pan Asian restaurant Pa Pa Ya is a celebration of the scene, not an also ran. The best place for soloists is a stool facing the bar; dates and groups should aim for the rear, where 3D molecules light up the scene.

WHAT’S HOT: Admirers of Zorawar will recognize his signature style: first-rate ingredients gently coaxed into memorable performances. This is food that makes you think: Can rice crackers make a delicious pizza base? Can salmon chunks and pickled veggies find happiness inside a rice bun? Yes and yes!

PA PA YA mezze platter, edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel (low rez)

Mezze platter of edamame hummus, wasabi chickpea falafel

We begin the evening with an edible treat of basil compressed watermelon which gets a delicious assist from lemongrass and sweet chilli foam. It’s served on oyster shells plated on a stone bowl. Dramatic and delicious! The sushi matrix (17 pieces of sushi served on a cuboid matrix) will fly you to Japan and back.

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee_Pa Pa Ya

Beer battered Avacado Tacos, corn and scallion kimchee

The kitchen high-fives vegetarians, although sliders with grilled chickpea and edamame rolled out on a toy truck is likely to find the carnivore’s hand returning to the truck, too. Do try the Sushi Burger which is a rice bun with salmon and pickled veggies in cream cheese and aioli. Among the liquid pleasures include cocktails like Lighthouse, a vodka drink poured into a light bulb and Wise Whiskey which is whiskey with rosemary foam. Both are delectable.   Sushi Burger_Pa Pa YaThe curtains come down with a Liquid Hazelnut Fondant matcha cake which gets competition from the white peppercorn ice cream it’s paired with. Pa Pa Ya dares you to eat differently, and rewards you in the process.

WHAT’S NOT: The changing wall colours can be distracting as also the playlist of EDM and trance. The pork belly skewers glazed with sichmi mirin and soya is distractedly sweet.

HOW TO GET THERE: Palladium Mall, Third floor, Senapati Bapat Marg, Lower Parel (West). Tel: 022-43475454.

Cost: Rs 3000 for two


Fitness gyan from Gautam Gulati

23 Oct

fitness, actor, Bollywood, Azhar, 6 pack abs, Gautam Gulati Gautam Gulati loves to flaunt his physique and is often seen shirtless. That’s understandable when you have a sculpted body with six-pack abs. The actor, who will soon make his Bollywood debut with Ekta Kapoor’s Azhar insists is a result of an all vegetarian diet and not artificial proteins.

Click on the picture for My story in The Man magazine

Luxury is a glass of water in the desert; friendship; grandchild says iconic designer Stefano Ricci

22 Sep
Stefano Ricci, , menswear, fashion, Mumbai, Italian, suits, crocodile skin, luxury

Stefano Ricci

Luxury brand Stefano Ricci evolved from a tie manufacturing firm into a full- spectrum luxury lifestyle brand, on the basis of serious investment in research and craft-based expertise. After a strong retail footprint of 43 stores across the globe the brand recently opened its first store in Mumbai, India at the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel. I caught up with the founder Stefano Ricci whose mission is to design garments for the wardrobe of a man who already has everything.

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Fashion trends for the style conscious man

15 Sep

low res opening picThe recently concluded India Luxury Style Week (ILSW) in Bangalore had quite a few notable trends that are going to be filtering into men’s wardrobe anytime soon. Playful mix and matches, slim fits, splashes of bold colour, etc. ruled the runway. Here are the five biggest trends for menswear and more importantly how to work with them

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Have you met the fresh faces in Bollywood – Ayesha Kapur, Athiya Shetty, Zoa Morani

10 Sep
Ayesha Kapur, Bollywood actress, Hidesign, Pondichery, Dilip Kapur, child actor, Black, Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Ayesha Kapur

Every year, Bollywood sees a barrage of new faces, new hopes and new aspirations. The year 2015 is no different and the industry is geared to welcome talented debutantes. Check out these hottest newbies, who are all set to make their marks and became stars, almost overnight.

Ayesha Kapur
Ayesha burst onto to the scene in 2005 with Sanjay Leela Bhasali’s Black. As a deaf, mute and blind girl she delivered a multilayered performance that undercut expectations. Though she went on to win awards for her performance she soon faded into oblivion. “I went back to school in Pondicherry as my parents were very particular that I get myself a good education,” explains the heir of Hidesign the leather accessories company. Post boarding school and whilst waiting to get into NYU for an acting course Ayesha landed in Mumbai for a short internship with Sanjay Suri. Her fondness for the camera bloomed into serious passion and she stayed back in the city to pursue her acting dreams. Auditions for over two months with Yashraj Films casting head Shanu Sharma led the child prodigy to bag a three film deal with the production house. The first film is slated to be Shekhar Kapoor’s futuristic Romeo & Juliet set in Mumbai in the future when water is the greatest wealth. Sushant Singh the male lead plays a boy from the lower city who steals into the higher city where he meets Ayesha.

Ayesha Kapur, Bollywood, actor, Black, Sanjay Leela Bhansali, HidesignUndaunted by the delay in her debut Ayesha says, “I am positive about the wait period as I know I am working on my art. I want to show the audience of what I am capable of with my first film.” The preparations for the big ticket debut include hectic schedule of a run in the morning followed by acting classes, dance classes, lip-synching, Hindi classes and so on. What’s her strategy to be ahead of the curve in Bollywood? “I am not worried about the competition. I just need to stay true to my art and creativity as an artist. As long as you are in the industry for the right reasons I believe things will happen naturally. I have the right team backing me.” When not honing her acting skills the equestrian sets off to Pondicherry to ride horses, write poetry and work on her brand of accessories – Ayesha.

Would she join the ranks of other phenomenally talented child actresses like Sridevi and Urmila Matondkar who grew up to be stars in their own right? Only time will tell.

Zoa Morani
As daughter of Karim Morani, Shah Rukh Khan’s closest friend, film producer and owner of Bollywood’s biggest event management company Zoa Morani’s Bollywood aspirations aren’t surprising to say the least. When kids her age were playing doll Zoa was touring the world and watching Karisma Kapoor and Shah Rukh Khan enthral audiences with their stage performances. “The energy was contagious and watching the actors on stage would give me goose bumps. I think that sowed the seed of acting in me,” she remembers.

Zoa Morani, actress, Bollywood, Morani Bros, acting

Zoa Morani

After a dream debut with Shah Rukh Khan production Always Kabhi Kabhi Zoa faced some rough weather when the movie tanked at the box office. There was more bad news in store as another film with Shyam Benegal too fizzled out and her father Karim Morani was embroiled in the 2G scam. When it became hard to find good work Zoa immersed herself in theatre. But all that is behind her now as Zoa is now gearing up for the release of her film Bhaag Johnny co starring Kunal Khemu and directed by Shivam Nair.

A thriller shot in Thailand Bhaag Johnny also involves a lot of intense emoting and action sequences. “It was tough and we had to run through fields with dried grass and sometimes thorns. But we pulled through and the result was totally worth it,” says Zoa who is an ardent practitioner of Ashtang Yoga. A theatre enthusiast she has also acted in a couple of plays including Taj Mahal Ka Udghatan. For this Alia Bhatt fan the ultimate Bollywood dream is to work with Sushant Singh and Farhan Akhtar.

Between now and the new year, these actors will go from being relatively unknown to virtually omnipresent. Will they rule the marquee or fall by the wayside – only time and box office grosses will tell.

Athiya Shetty

Athiya Shetty, actor, actress, Bollywood, Sunil Shetty, Mana Shetty, Hero

Athiya Shetty

Bollywood actor Suniel Shetty’s daughter Athiya is poised for a debut with Salman Khan’s production Hero alongside another newcomer Sooraj Pancholi. “Growing up I wasn’t part of the film world and never visited dad’s sets. But I was always a Bollywood fanatic when it came to movies. I grew up watching DDLJ, Kuch kuch hota hain and Kabhi Kushi Kabhi Gham a zillion times,” says the 22 year old who wants to stay in the film industry for a very long time. It’s a dream debut as the Bajrangi Bhaijaan actor is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that that his best friend’s daughter gets the biggest opening on September 25th. Hero is a remake of the 80s super hit by the same name. Sooraj and Athiya are enacting the characters essayed by Jackie Shroff and Meenakshi Sheshadri in the yesteryears.

Love kababs? Tuck into the kababs from royal kitchens at ITC Hotel Parel

8 Sep
Kababs, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef Farooqui, Indian food

Kababs at the ITC Grand Central 

One of my favourite Indian restaurants Kababs & Curries (K&K) completed 10 years of glorious cooking. And to commemorate the occasion they did what they do best – cook up a storm with eight of the legendary ITC master chefs especially flown down to Mumbai for the occasion. I was one of the lucky few to have been invited for the launch of Jashn-e-Kabab, a kabab festival with 40 different kababs from the restaurant’s armoury of
tandoors, charcoal, pathar grills along with rustic angethis and tawas.

Apart from tucking into the best kababs in India I also had the chance to meet some legendary ITC chefs including J. P Singh who runs the kitchen of Bukhara at ITC Maurya (one of the best Indian restaurants in the world), chefs from ITC Grand Chola, ITC Gardenia, ITC Mughal, ITC Windsor, WelcomHotel Jodhpur and Chef Farooqui from K&K at ITC Grand Central. The master chefs brought together some of the best kababs that were served in the noble courts and on the battlefield in yesteryears with long forgotten herbs and exotic flavours.

If you love kababs (like I do) you just can’t miss this one.

Among the highlights of the kabab trail are the Guftaguu kabab by chef Haji Mohd. Farooqui. A non-vegetarian could easily be fooled into believing that it’s the mushiest meat kabab. When in reality it’s minced cabbage with cardamom and saffron! The kababs are a heartfelt homage to the galouti and extremely craveable.

kabab, food, Indian food, mughlai, ITC Hotel, best Indian restaurant

Guftagoo – by Chef Farooqui

The combination of banana flower and potato sounds strange, but it does a jig on the tongue. Chef Sundar’s banana flower kabab is just the sort of excuse you need for returning scraped-clean plates. Be warned it’s tear inducingly spicy.

Prawn fans must try Chef JP Singh’s Jhinga Firdaus Shahi. Large sized prawns engulfed in a feathery light batter and finished with kabab masala is just heavenly.

Did you know that there are some vegetarian chefs who only cook vegetarian? Chef Gunjan Goela is one of them. She elevates the humble eggplant to gourmet status by stuffing them with hung curd and burnt onions. Gorgeous.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, chef, Mughlai, sheekh kabab

Jodhpur based chef Akshraj Jodha’s shami kabab using Rajasthan’s staple Khersangri not pushes the culinary envelope but also creates a ‘aha’ moment with its blend of spices.

Another lamb preparation – Pathar Ka Ghosht will leave your tongue dancing from the all the yogurt, chilies and herbs.

kabab, Indian food, best Indian restaurant, Mumbai, ITC Hotel, chef
Lastly it’s was the vegetarian kababs that stole the show. And coming from a hard core non-vegetarian – that’s a huge compliment.

Almost every kabab tastes like one of the best you’ve ever had … until you get the next celestial kabab and the bar is raised anew.
What: Jashn-e-Kabab

Where: K&K, ITC Grand Central, Parel, Mumbai

Date: 5th to 13th September

Dinner Hours: 7:30 pm to 11:45 pm

For reservation call 022-24101010/5109/5110

By Nivedita Jayaram Pawar

Sculpted designs and Kareena Kapoor bowled everyone over at Gaurav Gupta’s spectacular grand finale for Lakmé Fashion Week 2015

1 Sep
Kareena Kapoor, Khan, Lakme, Grand finale, fashion, Gaurav Gupta, designer, couture

Kareena Kapoor Khan at the Lakme Grand Finale by Gurav Gupta

Gaurav Gupta created a world of fantasy, sculpted structures and silhouettes for the grand finale of Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015 at Mehboob Studios. Bollywood actor Kareena Kapoor Khan added grandeur and glamour to Gaurav’s creations.

Kareena Kapoor, fashion, show, Khan, Lakme fashion week, fashion, Gaurav Gupta, couture

The spectacular Lakme Grand Finale show

The stunning show had a magnificent white giant sculpture of a gorgeous women rising from the centre of a circular stage around which the spectators were seated. A flight of stairs amongst the white stage décor created the mood for a breath-taking opening.

Kareena Kapoor, Khan, Lakme, fashion show, grand finale, couture, Gaurav Gupta Couturier Gaurav Gupta’s designs were were minimal yet vibrant with moondown gray, albatross black, showtime ivory and reminiscent red. The silhouettes, colours, embroidery and sculpted fabrics were just breathtaking. Gupta’s models strutted down the runway with well-defined matte and crème lips in a stunning palette of rich plums, deep reds and feminine pinks from the new Lakmé Absolute face collection.

Tarun Tahiliani presented an eclectic line at Lakmé Fashion Week Winter/Festive 2015

31 Aug

Tarun Tahiliani, designer, Lakme Fashion Week, winter, fashion, ramp, IndianFashion’s darling Tarun Tahiliani showed a line of easy silhouettes that featured kaftans, tunics, shift dresses, capes, capelets, jumpsuits and saris against a backdrop of a very stylish video featuring model and Bollywood actress Lisa Haydon modelling Tarun’s collection.

International model Ujjwala Raut opened the show with a looped black will-powered midi, which was followed by a great mix of black creations with occasional bursts of colour.

Tarun Tahiliani, designer, Lakme Fashion Week, Indian, ramp, fashion, Indian wear, couture The line had exotic prints with a marked Russian influence of vibrant stripes and the tribal gypsy elements. The black and white striped cascading top and the asymmetric kurta with leggings, will-power corset dress, the black dhoti sari and choli brought a great fusion story. A maroon jumpsuit with embroidered printed belt and lungi dress were interesting diversions.

Some interesting variations seen on the ramp were the jumpsuit-sari, which looked easy to step into and and zip up, kedia style blouses with skirts, satin draped lungi cowl gowns, saris with velvet obe belts and printed tees with satin dhotis.

Tarun Tahiliani at LFW WF 2015 (71)Chitrangada Singh brought a glamourous end to the show in a black draped gown and velvet cape splashed with gold embellishments.


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