Chef Nishant Choubey has more than 20 years of experience and has worked across many fine-dining establishments throughout his career. The TV host commenced his career at the Oberoi hotel and then worked with Madinat Jumeirah Dubai for three years in speciality restaurants such as Pier chic, Sagreto and Khayamat. He was also a part of the pre-opening team for Roseate Hotels. Chef Nishant believes in sustainable practices and was chosen to undergo training at John Folse culinary institute, Louisiana. Chef Nishant is no stranger to the world, being a consulting chef for Michelin Plated Indus (Bangkok), a corporate chef for the Seinan Group (Tokyo) and the Co-Founder of Street Storyss Bangalore (a vegetarian craft kitchen). Alongside winning the Iron Chef Challenge 2018 in Bangkok, Chef Nishant has also won a gold medal at Aahar.
Based in Delhi, Chef Nishant has hosted several successful pop-ups in Japan, Canada, South Africa, Kenya and Spain on progressive Indian cuisine. Indian cuisine, being his forte, has allowed him to share his vision of regional Indian food at Michigan and Indianapolis universities within the US. Nishant has also cooked for various well-known figures, the recent one being for the President of Montenegro at a special event. The culinary belief in Jain philosophy resonated at a special affair at Adanis hospitality, adding another feather to the talented chef’s cap!
One of his latest projects is titled ‘Tokyo Mitahiwala’, a passion project whose launch has created a unique sensation in the world. Deeply passionate about innovation, Chef Nishant is often found in the kitchen experimenting with recipes & giving them a unique twist.
Here is an interview with Chef Nishant Choubey where he shares his views with us.
Who has been your biggest influence to get you to where you are today?
There are several influences in my life and I am grateful to every individual who has played an integral role to help me shape up. When it comes to the biggest influence, I would like to mention Dr Pushpesh Pant who motivated me and fulfilled my craving to learn Indian food in pure form. He respects my creativity and helps me grow. He is an encyclopaedia and carries an abundance of knowledge.
What is your favourite ingredient to work with?
I love to work with different kinds of ingredients and that’s why vegetarian cuisine excites me a lot since the ingredients are unlimited. However, my favourite ingredient would be Beetroot and Liquorice. Beetroot is a naturally coloured, a vibrant purple vegetable which is very versatile and fits with every cuisine. Liquorice is a sweet spice and carries a lot of character. We can use it in sauce, soups and desserts; it shows up very well.
How involved are you with menu development and overall design?
I’m very much involved right from brainstorming on the concept according to trend, to kitchen designing, kitchen drawings, menu, ingredient methodology, SOP, kitchen trials and to the gala launch. Post my tenure with Roseate, I took up consulting and kitchen design and menu development. I, of course, struggled to start with but now I am a pro and it’s fun. Having said that there is so much more to learn and grow in life. Learning should never stop at any age. The kitchen is a never-ending subject and is endless, so the more you get into it the better it is. I am definitely more keen to enhance my knowledge and passion about food and cooking.
What’s your signature dish?
Corn cake is my signature dish.
Great emphasis is paid to the plating of your dishes. How does this add to the eating experience?
When it comes to eating, one eats from the eyes first that’s why plating is extremely important. It is the sensory look which is welcoming. We are in a world where social media is on a big rise, be it Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and it is so much important to make sure your plate rises to the occasion. Although I still feel that taste is the most important sense.
What was the best meal you ever had and why?
The meal at Lota Café at the Art emporium in Delhi and my meal at Zuma Dubai are the best meals ever. I loved Lota Café because I am a sucker for regional cuisine and simplicity. The menu at LOTA revolves around India and has some very unique dishes such as paneer dhokla, bhapa doi cheesecake, Pondicherry fish curry etc. The taste and presentation are outstanding. I love Japanese food and Zuma serves the best Japanese. The ingredients are fresh, the place is buzzing and clean and the service is non-intrusive. It’s an overall package that ensures that I keep coming back to these gems.
What does the word success mean to you?
True success is anything that sets your soul on fire or makes you feel complete. Success isn’t about the things that make your life better; it’s about what makes you feel better about your life. Success is a narrative which just can’t be described in words, it is a beautiful experience that one takes pride in. For me, success means building a team which is a reflection of your thoughts, your creativity and your symbol of consciousness regarding quality and carries an extremely positive attitude. It is not very easy to do it and whoever has done it till now is extremely happy and successful. The team is the key in this trade.
What do you think is the most overhyped food trend?
Plant-based food is overhyped, freak shakes are hyped for healthy eating and northwest frontier cuisine is surely overhyped. Our country can offer so many other delicacies and somehow they get neglected.
Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
Chef Thomas Kellar is the one that I admire the most. He is a Chef who respects every individual and is an amazing teacher. He stresses the fact that basic is the key and he works on trends. He wants to make our dear earth a better place to live in.
What is your favourite thing about being a chef?
Creativity is what I love in this trade; also it’s endless. The more you learn the better you become and it’s very aspiring and inspiring. It is a career which will never wind off till human beings are alive since food is an arsenal part of our life.
Lastly, do you have any advice towards other aspiring chefs who want to be like you?
Attitude matters a lot and always keep this philosophy of never saying no. You should be ready to take any challenge in life and believe me, you can do it.