Travelling Gourmand: Ashish Dev Kapur
Running a restaurant is not easy. There are critics that you have to impress, customers and diners you have to take care of, talented chefs who tend to go wild in their quest to create something truly unique. Now imagine running four of the country’s highest rated restaurants, along with a chain of one of the most successful Pan-Asian, casual dining restaurants. Seems quite a task, doesn’t it? Not for Ashish Dev Kapur, co-founder of Whisky Samba, Dimsum Bros, The Wine Company, and Antares, among many other ventures. We had a chat with him, over a rather well made old fashioned. Edited excerpts:
Alcohol seems to be very central to the dining experience in most of your restaurants. Why is that?
We are in the business of providing a short vacation to every guest at all our restaurants. It’s an overall sensory experience and we believe in
enhancing every element of the experience to its fullest. As far as liquor is concerned and the aspects around it, we are proud to have expertise in that definitive area. We want our guests to associate us with a great night of dining out, complemented by the best wine or whisky the city has to offer.
Do you think Indians know how to pair food with alcohol?
Indians have a very evolved palate and considering they are so well travelled, it helps break the intimidation barrier towards certain cuisines and
alcohol. Find the food and the alcohol that matches your palate, and explore the endless possibilities. We have had several food and alcohol pairings and pop-ups, and have seen the large curiosity among guests.
You have a history of making some exotic cuisines, which otherwise were very convoluted, more accessible to the people in their truest form. How did this idea come about?
It’s because of the chefs we have collaborated with, from Chef Sarah Todd to Chef Vikramjit Singh. We have been able to bring international flavour and palate to diners with risqué tastes and adventurous Indian fusion in all our outlet. It is because of their vision that we have excelled
in making such a great name for ourselves in the dining scene in India.
Where do you think our food and beverage industry is headed?
Some very exciting times are ahead of us, with great real estate, great ingredients such as amarantham, ragi, and millet that the chefs around the world are accepting globally. We have restaurants across India that have a national understanding of the best practices, traits, and moods of audiences from around the country. Aspiration is a big buzzword and that is truly what helps us make bigger and better restaurants.
Tell us something about Indian vineyards. How do you think they are faring?
Indian wine makers are working with international wine makers, and thus endorsing global practices and styles. Reveillo is truly commendable, which uniquely grows the Italian grape varietal Nero D’avola in Nashik. Charosa does a tempranillo, which shows experimentation and the growing standards of Indian wine making.
How do Indian wines compare with the rest of the world?
I do not believe that it is a fair comparison. The Indian wine industry is just a few decades old as compared to the rest of the world. Here, the soil will take time to cultivate.
How was your collaboration with Sarah Todd? What projects are you currently working on?
Our partnership with Chef Sarah Todd has been thoroughly fruitful in bringing top level gourmet experiences at all our restaurants across India. We have introduced some fabulous cuisines, flavours and experimental dishes in our outlets thanks to Sarah’s culinary genius. We are currently working on some new things for Antares, The Wine Rack, and The Wine Company.
What are your plans for 2019?
We plan to build more exciting food and beverage establishments, collaborate with more talented chefs from India and around the world, and the be the finest restaurant of choice for our diners.