‘Would love to cook for Rabindranath Tagore’

Celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani was in Kolkata for the launch of ‘Speak Burgers’ at Novotel Kolkata

‘Would love to cook for Rabindranath Tagore’

Whenever celebrity chef Vicky Ratnani visits Kolkata, he can’t resist enjoying the city’s famous Kolkata biryani and the timeless ‘rosogolla’. He also takes the time to stock up on his favourite Kashmiri Chilli at ‘New Market’. During his recent visit to launch his brand ‘Speak Burgers’ at the Novotel Kolkata Hotel and Residences, he chatted with ‘Millennium Post’ about burgers, Nelson Mandela and more.

Burgers are very popular. What are the key factors that contribute to the widespread popularity of burgers?

Burgers are comforting, anytime-of-the-day food that can be quite wholesome. As someone involved in fine dining and world travel, I have always made a signature burger when I have curated restaurant menus. During the lockdown, I started a kitchen and our burger offerings became a hit. Then we thought that burgers could be creative, scalable and attention-to-detail products. You can play with various elements, from the type of bread to the fillings. I even contributed to the Indianisation of Burger King’s menu. All my culinary experiences eventually led to ‘Speak Burgers’, a concept inspired by my travels, showing how burgers can adapt to different cultures.

At Novotel Kolkata, our menu includes unique burger options like the ‘Kosha Mangsho Burger’ (‘Kosha Mangsho Jullians’, salli potatoes, tomatoes, onions, fried eggs and ‘achari’ mint mayo) and ‘bhetki’ fish and chips burger. I love the ‘Grilled Buff Burger’ (char-grilled prime tenderloin patty, French mustard mayo, tomato, house pickle, caramelised onion, sliced cheese) and ‘Chicken 65’. There are vegetarian choices such as the ‘Portobello Mushrooms’, ‘Pepper Burger’ and ‘Veggiestan’ (roasted potato and veg patty, pickles and sliced cheese).

What’s the most important ingredient in a burger?

Everything. But I think the bun is really important. It’s not just about its taste but also its ability to hold everything together. Since we’re on food delivery apps, having a robust bun is essential.

The vegan trend has gained significant momentum in recent years.

I see the vegan trend in three ways. Some people follow it because it’s trendy. Others adopt it for eco-friendly and health reasons, which I appreciate. However, I caution against relying too much on mock meats or textured soy protein, as the ingredients can be unclear. When going vegan, it’s crucial to understand the reasons and balance the diet with complex carbs and protein to maintain muscle tone and overall health.

Which culinary trend do you believe will become highly popular in the coming years?

I believe that the Korean food trend will continue to gain momentum. We offer a delightful Korean burger at Novotel Kolkata.

What’s your go-to comfort food?

My comfort food is the food I have been brought up on. I like to eat local food, anything that highlights the season.

You also cooked for Nelson Mandela. How was the experience?

His brief was anything that is nice, Asian, spicy and not bland food. So, I gave him Thai, Chinese, Indian Chinese and Indian.

If you had to cook for any historical figure, who would that be and what would you cook?

I’d love to cook for Rabindranath Tagore. I would love to make him a fantastic Sindhi curry.

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