I’ve met with Chef Gurjyote a few times and he’s always come across as a man on a mission – things to be done, dishes to be made, paperwork to be completed and all of that. Cliched as that sounds, I spent some time with the man over a few cups of coffee and found him to have quite an interesting story indeed; a story about not caring for the family business, about mixed culinary lineage at home and being inspired by it to the point of risking everything to pursue his passions in the kitchen.
Chef at Large: Why did you choose this line as your career?
Chef Gurjyote Sethi: Cooking is my passion and I made this my profession.
CaL: Did you go through any formal training?
GS: I am a pass out from IHM New Delhi/Pusa. My formal training was with the Hyatt Regency New Delhi.
CaL: What is your specialty?
GS: I particularly enjoy cooking European and Mediterranean foods.
CaL: Why/how did you come about your specialty and what do you think makes it stand out from the rest?
GS: I believe in my capabilities and that I can deliver the best. I started my career with practicing Indian, but in due course of time I was inspired by Mediterranean style, ingredients and cuisine culture.
CaL: What do you enjoy cooking the most? (this could be different from what you cook the best)
GS: I enjoy cooking on grills, be it any meat, especially steaks.
CaL: What is your signature dish?
GS: Potato spaghetti wrapped fresh Himalayan trout with home dried tomato coulis
CaL: What do you rate higher – visual appeal or taste, and why?
GS: Visual appeal and taste compliment to each other, the dish with visual appeal arouses the appetite and taste quenches it.
CaL: Do you believe that a dish has to be as per tradition or do you believe that it must evolve with time?
GS: Yes it should evolve with time, today is the fusion world with smart travelers, who wish to experiment the modern contemporary food.
CaL: What is your take on fusion food? Is this a form of degeneration of the old taste or does it represent evolution?
GS: Fusion food is always healthy with no limits to ingredients; it always keep you updated as a chef and alive in the food business.
CaL: When and where did you have your first Italian meal?
GS: I had my first Italian meal with Satoria New Delhi
CaL: To a common man, Pizza and pasta seem to be the beginning and end of Italian food. In your opinion, what dishes would define the range, extent and variety of Italian cooking?
GS: For Italian food nowadays the awareness has gone to the limits and options now range from simple insalata caprese to aubergine parmigiana and range to hearty aquapazza and then on to tenderloin rossini and end up with classic tiramisu or taleggio.
CaL: As an Italian chef, how do you differentiate between the American version of pizza as against the original Italian?
GS: The only difference between the pizzas are the base and the cheese; Americans use thick (pan) crust bases with processed cheese, where as the Italians largely believe in thin crusts and fresh buffalo mozzarella .
CaL: Do you believe Italian and French cooking have anything in common? Could you elaborate?
GS: I believe the common link in cooking styles between the two countries is an emphasis on meats, wine and cheese.