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Chef’s table: Vaibhav Bhargava

In the story of herb-infused chaat, Chef Vaibhav believes the freshness of ingredients is what keeps the food business alive.

Suchayan Mandal | New Delhi |

For a chef having experience at a two Michelin star restaurant, it’s obvious that his take on food won’t be much of a convention. As you flip the pages of the menu at The Drunken Botanist, not just another restaurant at Cyber Hub in Gurgaon, you realise a lot of effort has been put to create a menu that talks of flora along with the theme.

Meet Chef Vaibhav Bhargava, Corporate Chef at The Drunken Botanist. Imagine an edible flower adding power to your gin and tonic. Or a risotto infused with spinach. Wondering what herbs can do to your food? Excerpts from an interview with the chef:

How does “Botany” play a role in your food?

The food at The Drunken Botanist (TDB) is a combination of flavours mixed with various herbs used in the cooking. We focus on infusing herbs with food to enhance the natural flavour of the dishes and make them healthier. We use various micro-greens and edible flowers also to present our food to look beautiful. Around 70 per cent menu is based on herbs, which keeps changing as per the season availability.

What about the cocktails?

Flowers play an important role in drinks. They make the drinks look beautiful. Not just that, many drinks are infused with flowers to get the colours and flavours naturally and used for making shots and cocktails. Even our signature drink is based on thyme and fruits called Nature Love.

Tell us about the uniqueness of ingredients at The Drunken Botanist.

Our uniqueness of ingredients lies in sourcing them right from the vendors. Our vegetables come from the farmers and our imported items like Salmon, comes from Scotland or we use imported pork belly from Belgium; fruits come from Thailand and sauces come from China.

What kind of research did you conduct before making this menu?

A lot of research went into creating new menu because our menus are based on seasonal ingredients and depends on the demand of the customers. We keep doing small festivals every month, which help us to choose the most ordered dishes. Then those dishes are put in our upcoming menus. I have travelled across the country to explore new flavours, which I incorporate in our menus as per the place and location with a twist to make it more comfortable for the guests.

Where do you see this kind of “Botany”-inspired menu going in the next two years?

Plant-based menus cannot go out of fashion as freshness is the key of success but a lot of new flavours also get introduced so there is always a new opportunity for a chef to play with new ingredients.

How important is the presentation for you?

Plating is key because you first visualise the food and then eat the food. Food
presentation is just as essential to the success of a dish as its taste and flavour. The way the food looks on the plate is what tempts our eyes and makes you want to taste it. Another important rule of food presentation is balancing variety and contrast.