Mumbai, Oct. 23: If you have a lakh to spare for five days of pleasure at the world’s gambling capital, take the flight to Las Vegas next month. Only, once there, head for the dining table rather than the roulette table, and satisfaction is guaranteed.
But amid the fine-dining experience at the November 15-20 World Gourmet Summit, there’s no way you will miss the food back home. As the Sin City turns 100 this year, it offers you a flavour of India in the middle of the Nevada desert, with back-to-back Indian cuisine classes and rasam, utthapam and ganne ka sharbat on the menu.
The high point of the summit is the five-course Taj Mahal Dinner (see chart), presented by one of India’s top chefs, Hemant Oberoi. Keeping him company would be celebrity chef Martin Yan and Bartholomew Broadbent, world-renowned authority on port and Madeira.
“Indian gourmet food, as it is known to the rest of the world, does not reflect the diverse cuisines of the country. It is still very much stuck in the tandoori chicken and butter masala gravy mould,” Oberoi complains.
“With due respect to Indian chefs abroad, I must say they haven’t done enough to showcase the massive range and diversity of Indian fare.”
Oberoi’s compatriots at the event would be food researcher and cookbook author Jiggs Kalra and celebrity food columnist Rashmi Uday Singh.
The Indians are on a mission.
“My focus will be on educating the global food connoisseurs about the sheer multiplicity and variety of Indian food flavours. In terms of their complex combinations and delicate flavours, they, in my view, surpass the much celebrated French cuisine,” says Singh.
“As we all know, over the past few years, there has been tremendous global interest in Indian cuisine and eateries,” says Oberoi, who has been taking Indian gourmet experience to various high-profile, fine-dining platforms across the world. He is just back from presenting a sit-down dinner for 500 guests at The Hermitage, a leading Monte Carlo hotel.
But if Indian food and restaurants are evoking so much interest, why don’t Indian eateries figure in the globally acknowledged Michelin star restaurant rankings'
Singh sees it as plain politics to protect the supremacy of French food. Oberoi, however, feels the reason is more technical.
“Michelin inspectors don’t give a restaurant a rating based on a one-day check. They keep revisiting it every 2-3 months over a year and keep checking the consistency of the cuisine on offer,” he says.
“The problem with Indian restaurants abroad is that they have a few fixed popular items on the menu because that makes commercial sense. But the inspector is looking for variety, exotic appeal and subtle nuances in flavours, which unfortunately is often lost.”
But how is it that despite all this, Amaya, an Indian restaurant in London, was voted the best eatery of UK this year'
“Well, it just shows the popularity Indian food enjoys. Imagine what the position of Indian cuisine could be if the vast array of ethnic Indian cuisine found its place on the global table,” Oberoi says.
The Las Vegas summit is an event of the World Gourmet Club and the International Food & Beverage Forum in association with the St. Moritz Gourmet Festival, The Masters of Australian Food and Wine and the Grand Gourmet Festival Dubai.
It provides food enthusiasts a chance to hear about trends in the global gourmet food and wine market from top food and beverage executives; learn from internationally renowned chefs and winemakers, and mingle with fellow devotees from around the world. The festival will be held at Las Vegas’s newest AAA Four Diamond luxury resort, the Green Valley Ranch Resort and Spa.
The Taj Mahal Dinner itself is a five-course sit-down meal for 80 guests at $250 per diner.