Chapman takes on the tandoor at Hyatt Regency. (Rashbehari Das)
WHO IS Dominic Chapman?
His great-great-grandfather ran The Savoy Hotel in London
His family owns The Castle hotel in Taunton, Somerset
2000 to 2002: Chef de partie at Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck, Berkshire
2002 to 2004: Chef de partie at Kensington Place, London
2004 to 2007: Head chef of The Hinds Head, also owned by Heston Blumenthal
2007 onwards: Head chef at The Royal Oak Paley Street, won Bib Gourmand in 2008, single Michelin star in 2010, making The Royal Oak one of just 13 Michelin starred pubs in the UK
2012: Opened The Belgian Arms with Nick Parkinson and now splits time between The Royal Oak and The Belgian Arms
Anton Mosimann, December 2008, for Naresh Kumar’s 80th birthday. Famous for feeding the British royal family for three decades
April 2009, shooting for a Channel 4 television programme
Gianfranco Chiarini, to start Casa Toscana in May 2011
Baptiste Fournier, November 2012, at ITC Sonar, for a Four Season’s wine and French food pairing
in 2013 for Masterchef India
Think the biggies in the business don’t come to Calcutta anymore? Try telling that to Michelin star chef Dominic Chapman, in town as the face of the Taste of Britain Curry Festival!
The 40-year-old is a fifth-generation hotelier-restaurateur. Well, his great-great-grandfather ran The Savoy Hotel in London, so count downwards. His great uncle ran The Imperial Hotel in Torquay. His father runs The Castle in Taunton in Somerset.
And Dominic Chapman splits his time between The Royal Oak Paley Street and The Belgian Arms in Berkshire, waiting to be overtaken by his six-year-old son Daniel who has made it known he’ll be a chef soon.
If Dominic’s lineage in hospitality still doesn’t impress, here’s more. His entry into the sanctum sanctorum of British fine dining, scratch that, global fine dining, was paved by Heston Blumenthal — OBE and celebrity chef. Dominic was his chef de partie at The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, from 2000 to 2002 and was asked to be head chef at Blumenthal’s second venture The Hinds Head, also in Bray, in 2004.
In 2007, Chapman became the head chef at The Royal Oak, winning since then a Michelin star in 2010 amongst a host of other awards.
Chapman is in Calcutta as the face of the Taste of Britain Curry Festival at Hyatt Regency, organised by the UK-based magazine Curry Life.
“I want to eat the street food and Bengali food, I want to know more about Anglo-Indian food, I want to go to the clubs, I want to go to the markets and restaurants, I want to walk around and browse through sari shops and book stores. Calcutta has such a rich history and I want to take in everything,” he told Metro.
Asked about his first impression of the city, on what is his first visit to India, Chapman searched for the right words. “It is different from what we see on television, it’s not a shock, but more of a ‘wow, I’m in India’ kind of a reaction.... The people are warm and friendly. Driving through the streets at 8am, I could see people going to work, and then some people on the streets, cooking — peeling onions and making chapattis, making shoes, cutting hair….
“You see how people live. There is a certain resilience, it’s inspiring. At first glance everything looks chaotic and then you realise there is a structure in this chaos. The beauty of India comes through in this city.”
A brief sojourn into the city later included a drive through Park Street and a visit to the Victoria Memorial Hall. The talking point? The traffic — “it was very, very bad”.
He can’t wait to take the city by foot, exploring as much of the colonial heritage and of course the food. “While I’ve had Indian food in UK, I don’t know anything about the regional cuisine and am looking forward to Bengali food. I was really sad to see a McDonald’s in the city’s centre! It is good for large western cities, but here in Calcutta, it’s out of place. The city offers so much choice on the streets. I see it as a moral thing. Personally, I feel it’s not right, taking away livelihood from local food-sellers.”
Chapman is looking forward to picking up culinary tips on Bengali food and getting a lesson on spices and local ingredients. But as an intrepid traveller (he’d spent five years of his life travelling), he’s just as much interested in getting to know the city. “I’ve heard so much about Calcutta and the heritage we share. I want to do everything, see every bit.”
The Taste of Britain Curry Festival will be on till August 31, noon to 3pm and 7pm to 11pm. This is the first time Hyatt Regency is hosting a Michelin star chef in Calcutta. “Having a Michelin star chef to head such a festival, not only speaks about the fusion of food but also about the fusion of two cultures,” said Britta Leick-Milde, GM, Hyatt Regency.
And yes, Chicken Tikka Masala sits tight on the menu.