Gary Foulkes is not just a Michelin star chef and an expert in seafood, he is also an ardent globetrotter. He was in India recently to cook up a storm for the country’s food connoisseurs. In a tête-à-tête with us, he revealed the challenges of being a Michelin star chef, love for seafood, and expectations from India. By Adila Matra
1. What is the one thing you are looking forward to while cooking in India?
It is interesting to see what they think—especially in two different cities (Delhi and Mumbai). I will be serving food that I cook in my restaurants. I have tweaked it according to the availability of ingredients. The biggest challenge when coming to another country is taking into consideration different palates and ingredients. India is such a big country, you have different weather everywhere, while in England, it stays the same. The challenge is to deliver the flavour here as well as I do in England.
2. You work with seafood big time. What are the challenges of cooking seafood?
The best thing about seafood is the fact that it is varied. You can serve it raw, cure it, roast it, steam it or bake it—it is very versatile. Also, the seasonality–some varieties of fish are very good in the spring, some of them are good in winter in the cold water. A lot of people don’t know about this. In England, at the end of summer, the red mullet you get is excellent, same goes with turbots during the spring tide.
I have been cooking for a long time, and I think the most challenging thing is to get the right ingredient. If you can get your hands on quality ingredients, everything else falls into place. You just need to season it and cook it correctly.
3. What is your comfort food?
I really like instant noodles. It is one of those things I go for when I have a long day from work, after seasoning it with garlic and chilli oil. I also love Indian food, though it is cliched.
4. How do you see a Michelin star? Is it a huge responsibility?
When you have a Michelin star, people come with an expectation of what they are going to get. With that, comes the pressure to deliver. You got to deliver and maintain consistency. The first bite of the dish has to be delicious.
5. Have you crafted any menu for the Indian guests?
We have a beautiful lobster gravy with lemongrass. I am also going to cook lobster tails in the tandoor, which is a first for me.
6. Which are the countries that have inspired you the most?
I spent some time in Japan and was bowled over. It is very classical and they cook with a lot of passion. I love the culture and the people too. One of the things that baffle me is the soba noodles, it is a delight to watch them being made. I also respect sushi masters, because it takes years to perfect. I got a dashi recipe from a chef in Japan recently. That is the recipe I use in Angler now.