Be it the simple dishes like the Aglio Olio, or a slightly elaborate one like the Duck with Risotto and Raspberry Sauce, Chef Shailendra’s food will never disappoint you. He makes frequent appearances in local dailies as he shares recipes for those adventurous ones in the kitchen. He himself is found tinkering around the kitchen with dishes that could easily be categorized as molecular gastronomy and this recently won him the top award at the Upper Crust food show.
Shailendra is a Food Craft Institute, Pune graduate and started his career with Cafe Royale at Oberoi Towers in Mumbai. Since then, he’s worked in the UK, the US and Italy. In 2003 he came back to Mumbai to start V Lounge with a few colleagues and it was here that he picked up the business part of running a restaurant.
Until he got the opportunity to setup Stone Water Grill in Pune, which is a part of Riyaaz Amlani’s Impressario Hospitality, Shailendra had never worked in the city even though he’s originally from Pune. I had never found the right audience earlier. Even now, though the crowd is opening up to world cuisine, I try to keep my experimentation to a certain limit. And whenever the two words people and experimentation are mentioned in the same sentence, Shailendra goes off on a different tangent. In Pune, theres a lot of education that needs to be done with respect to food. In the past three years, I’ve been fortunate enough to see the understanding improve. For example, there was a time when I’d be asked to serve ketchup along-side the pizzas. Everything that’s needed with the pizza is already on it!
With Master Chef finding its way in to most homes in India, Shailendra acknowledges the fact that molecular gastronomy is something thats piquing the interest of his customers. According to Shailendra, this particular science of cooking is the dhinchak for the regular fine-diners and not something that can be a regular on someones dinner orders. Its like a snort of cocaine, recounts Shailendra, whos been lucky enough to have experienced the spectacles of dining at elBulli.
Shailendra is highly skeptical about the future of the world and and feels blessed to have been born in this generation. He imagines a scene from Disney Pixarâ€™s Wall E where everyone, morbidly obese, is seen moving around in auto-pods and depend on automated systems for all their tasks and activities. Perhaps the Bluetooth headset on his left ear which is a constant fixture doesnt count.
Pepper Smoked Chicken Breast with Strawberry Salsa
This dish was prepared by Chef Shailendra during the Upper Crust food show in which he won the top award.
The salsa which is generally tangy will surprise you with a hint of sweetness because of the strawberries. The sweet and sour palate combined with the heavy smokiness of the meat results in a well-balanced mouthful of flavours.