Changing Tastebuds One Diner at a Time

Aditya Jaimani, Director Food Production and Service at InterContinental Hotels Group and Executive Chef at the Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini, speaks on how the market in this one corner of Delhi is slowly evolving, thanks in no small part to his efforts in the kitchen.

ADITYA JAIMANI, Director Food Production and Service at InterContinental Hotels Group and Executive Chef at the Crowne Plaza New Delhi Rohini spoke with BW Hotelier on the challenges of his current position and much more. Here are some excerpts of his exclusive interview with us.

“I was the first person to enter the hotel, along with a few chefs of my team. The hotel opened in June 2011”, Jaimani began by telling us. This was also his first assignment at an international chain and he was excited about working under a different brand standard.

Coming as he did after successful stints at the Taj Palace New Delhi where he honed his skills and then The Park New Delhi, where they flourished, for Jaimani, Rohini’s Crowne Plaza was a homecoming of sorts, since he grew up and still lives in the area. “As far as a five star product goes, this was a very unexplored market. I knew it a little by virtue of the fact that I was living here and this helped me predict correctly what the palate of the customer wanted,” he remembered.

Jaimani told us about how he began by improvising the tweaking the usual suspects on the menu from the first day itself, via large simulations of the food. “We did around 2,500 simulations just to get an idea of what was happening here,” he said.

And though, the all day dining restaurant, Mosaic was the result of all some hard earned research and innovations--like their live juice counters and the chaat counter which were both unique when the hotel opened six years ago, according to Jaimani—it was the speciality Indian restaurant, Spice Art, which is his labour of love.

“At Spice Art, I decided to use all the knowledge that I had about Indian cuisine. The reason I named this restaurant Spice Art was because of what I owe to Masala Art, where I learnt Indian cuisine,” he began by telling us. Jaimani’s exposure to Indian cuisine began in the banquet kitchen of Taj Palace, New Delhi, and then developed at Masala Art.
“The menu which we have worked on and developed at Spice Art, was more or less a mix of tried and tested and some unusual items,” he said.

“Initially we did some experimentation with the menu, some were well received, like the lehsun ki kheer and the rogan josh with beetroot, while others, like the Indian flavour tinged risotto, had a mixed response,” he remembers.

But the food is constantly evolving, Jaimani explained giving the example of their tawa til asparagus dish, which has now evolved into a much more sophisticated and opulent gucchi shatabri with gold dust. It’s all about ramping things up for the customer.

“Guests are much more open now open and welcoming. Earlier it used to be just a simple paneer tikka. Now one of the most popular dishes is the tandoori rasgulla, a savoury variation for guests who want to have paneer, is a huge hit,” he said.

As for eating habits, though the banqueting scene at the hotel is still predominantly wedding dominated and very vegetarian, things are changing in the restaurant.

“We started with a high ratio of vegetarians at this restaurant, but slowly the preferences are changing and the young crowds are experimenting. Items like our salmon tandoori tikka and our Australian tawa lamb chops also do well,” he concluded.

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