Chef Vivek Singh has a reputation.
A reputation for mixing it up, challenging established tastes and classic styles and adding the unusual to his takes on Indian food.
In Bangalore for a Cinnamon Collection pop up at The Ritz Carlton’s Riwaz from 3rd to 7th November 2015, Singh plans to showcase select classics from his menus at Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Soho and Cinnamon Kitchen in London. Singh studied with Ritz Carlton executive chef Anupam Banerjee, and like many relationships in the hospitality industry, the ties have endured over the years.
In Bangalore, diners would taste a selection of his specials which have played a starring role in his restaurants over time – from watermelon jhalmuri, Bangla Scotch eggs (quail egg wrapped in spiced Bengali style beets and veggies), Surf n’ Turf (scallop and lamb galouti), rogan josh shepherd’s pie, shrikhand– filled cumin profiterole and plenty more. Demos, lunches and wine gala dinners are on the cards – plenty of gastronomic exploration and experimentation to look forward to.
A sneak peek at his food and style over lunch at Riwaz ahead of the culinary fest offered up some memorable food combos. The spiced corn soup served up much more than its name suggested, topped with crispy bhindi. The seared scallops dish added a touch of Bengali flavours – the cauliflower and peas could have been straight from a Bengali rannar ghor. The chunky aubergine topped with peanut and sesame crumble surprised with its delicacy of flavour. The clove smoked loin of lamb in Rajasthani swetha sauce delighted; I loved the silkiness of the Rajasthani corn-based sauce and the perfect pink- centred lamb, while the vegetarians got more Rajasthan on a plate – the quaintly named Pink City Express offered up unusual versions of mirchi vada, ker sangri and paneer. My favourite was the gajar halwa spring rolls served as dessert – the carrots layered with beet wrapped in spring roll pastry and served with clove ice cream and ginger sticky toffee pudding: a nod to both his home country and his current city of residence, London. The plating for each course was simple rather than intricate, drawing everyone to dig in and just enjoy.
Singh is impressive not only for his food but his people skills – he remembered each guest’s name through the meal and chatted with each one, seeking reactions to his cooking, having a laugh or two between courses. Ditto his calmness in the kitchen combined with dollops of marketing savvy. That he has several cookbooks to his name at age 44, has fed prime ministers, film stars and the obligatory visiting celebrities, and still manages to keep his sense of humour intact without a sense of self-importance demonstrates another side to the growing breed of Indian celebrity chefs.