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When the chef makes the difference

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Life is full of good and bad. Otherwise, it won't be life, would it? Especially when you try and explore, you have to be ready to weather bad experiences to get that one good one which will make the effort worth it. Somehow when it comes to food festivals, I don't agree with that statement. Ya, there will be well done food festivals and poorly done food festivals, but when it comes to reputed hotels, I am not the explorer. I believe the chefs do all that sifting to give the diner a good eating experience.

So I was totally disappointment when I ended up visiting multiple Malabar food festivals in the city. The first one was a pretentious interpretation of Malabar flavours and executed to suit the eyes of the business traveler. So much so that I almost decided to give up on the Malabar food scene. Thankfully, after explaining my predicament, Park Hyatt's PR agency said I should give it a shot and leave if I don't like it. I stayed back late. Much later than I thought I would. Bringing in a Mallu chef from Kerala has probably made all the difference.

Cuisines have character. If you want to take away that character, you might as well call it 'Inspired by' or 'My interpretation of' or any other fancy word. The only Malabar festival where the appams were Malabar appams, not the crispy looking Sri Lankan ones. There was an actual Nei Pathri soaked in ghee and not trying to look like post-gym version of the classic. The Thalaseri biriyani thankfully was made with short grain rice and not made to look pretty. From prawn pickles to condiments and sides, there was the full bodied Malabar flavour, not just a whiff of it!

The mapas for the appams was classic with strong coconut tones helping soak up the soft appams. The beef fry gravy was a, well, 'healthy' companion for the already heavy ghee soaked Nei Pathri. While it may not catch the attention of the fitness folks, if a dish is called Ghee Fry, then it better have loads of ghee on it.

Ada Payasam, a fried dish with coconut and jaggery that I forgot the name of, a coconut burfi were the special desserts for the day. But what came as a surprise was the Cookos, commonly called the Achu Murukku. I don't remember seeing this in a five star buffet, ever. While my association with this funny sounding cookie goes back ages, a bite of this took me back a few years in memories. This was the cherry on top of a very good cake.

The festival is on till the 30th of November at The Dining Room, Park Hyatt Velachery.

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Chennai Foody: When the chef makes the difference
When the chef makes the difference
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