Ahead of his visit (Sep 5-11 at Spice Market) for the World Gourmet Festival at the Four Seasons Bangkok, Hari Nayak, chef of Orissa in Mumbai, India, and culinary consultant in the US, tells us about how he manages to be authentically Indian and creative at the same time, and about the logistics of cooking in a new kitchen.

What are your plans for the WGF?
I am coming with Chef Kiran, a longtime friend and business partner and the team at Four Seasons will be assisting us. I will be making an authentic Indian menu with a global influence, using seafood, local produce and lots of Thai chilies and coconut. I love the flavor they bring into the dishes, and there are a lot of similarities in Thai and Indian cooking.

What’s an ingredient that’s gotten you excited lately?
I often shop at the Union Square Market in NYC and I always find something new and interesting. I recently found husk cherries. They were gathered in a crate by the hundreds and looked like delicately wrapped bonbons, more like berries than cherries once you peel back their paper-thin husk. They’re lightweight, almost weightless. They taste like pineapple and orange.

What’s your creative process?
I love to cook Indian food but I also like to incorporate my experience and knowledge about other cuisines (as I have lived in the West for more than 15 years) into whatever I create. During this process a new style of cooking was created. I recreate Indian recipes with non-Indian ingredients and my favorite Western with Indian ingredients and flavors. I love to explore the fusion of tastes and flavors that occur between different cultural and ethnic cuisines.

Why is your restaurant called Orissa? It is a boutique restaurant and a wine bar concept. Orissa is a state in India which is famous for its ancient tribal arts, beautiful paintings and handicrafts. This was the influence for the design of the restaurant, and the handicrafts there are for sale. The cuisine is modern and contemporary Indian. I have recreated Indian cuisine with local seasonal ingredients with Western influences and a little bit of my own touch which makes it my cuisine.


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