A chef’s dream to set up the world’s highest restaurant on Mount Everest came true when Sanjay Thakur, a native of Kufri in Shimla district of Himachal Pradesh, served dishes to mountaineers on 30 May. The feat has won him accolades and he has found a place in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Thakur said a few years ago he and his friends decided to focus on Himalayan ingredients which are in abundance in the wild but are ignored commercially.
“Being from Himachal, this was my father’s dream and in addition, I wanted to focus on research based on the Himalayas and its food culture,” he said.
A lot of planning went into his efforts to set up a restaurant on the other side of the Himalayas on the Everest trail. Thakur, who works as a chef with Etihad Airways, started the journey on 25 May with a team of 10 members to create the world’s highest restaurant.
He created a menu with local Himalayan ingredients up at Everest trail. He contacted likeminded persons and decided to set up the restaurant at Island Peak high camp on Mount Everest trail.
“After deciding the location and basic plan, I approached senior figures of our fraternity and chef Soundararajan. They were very helpful,” he said.
Sanjay Thakur said Soundarajan agreed to join them and display his expertise. Thakur and his team served an 8-course menu in the restaurant, Triyogyoni and they also offered Sherpa Express, and a vegetarian 3-course menu.
The team didn’t serve alcohol due to the risks involved. Eleven diners thoroughly enjoyed the culinary experience. Among them were Indian, Polish and Nepalese nationals who relished the dishes on the Mount Everest trail where oxygen level was 40 per cent less than normal.
The journey was an arduous task as it took them six days to reach the site of the restaurant with 180 kg of food material and other equipment.
The team used solar power to cook dishes and the dishes contained Himalayan ingredients and herbs including Shisno (Bichhoo Buti).
En route, they got stuck in the mountains due to bad weather conditions and had to be airlifted to Kathmandu by the Indian Air Force on 1 June after they sought help from the Indian Embassy.
Sanjay Thakur and his team also applied for a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records and by 2 June, they were registered in the records for setting up the world’s highest restaurant.