With more than 22 years of experience in his kitty and having lived in 10 countries, Chef Dessi De Vries, executive chef, Four Seasons Hotel, Mumbai continues to learn more about Indian palettes and preferences. Speaking to Food & Hospitality World, he shares the trends followed by global chefs and his thoughts on India as a maturing market
Chef Dessi De Vries’s experience ranges from luxury hotels, fine dining restaurants to Michelin star service. During his early years in the hospitality industry, Chef Dessi developed an affinity for French cuisine. He was soon appointed at the Diner Thus, where he served as a chef and trainer to the royal Dutch family. His love for seafood led to a few years of experience in the Caribbean after which he moved to Asia, to expand his knowledge on the Southeast Asian cuisine. He has been working as the executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai for less than a year and has already learned a lot about Indian spices, tastes and preferences.
Sharing more about his journey in India, he says, “So far it has been a great learning experience, I am learning more about Indian cuisine and palettes. People are at a maturing phase and are understanding more about modern techniques. As more Indians are travelling across the globe, their taste is refining and they are experimenting with new cuisines. Not many are ready for the taste of authentic cuisines but I can see the demand is clearly growing.”
While talking about potential in the India market, he opines, “I was thrilled to work in Bangkok which is a huge market and am surprised to see the growing potential in Mumbai. However, one of the main challenges here as a chef is the availability of products. We try and use the local produce as much as possible but there are some special authentic dishes that only require imported products.”
At Four Seasons, the chef has put his experience to the best of use in order to create fresh, innovative and modern experiences. He uses contemporary presentation of several cooking techniques, textures and structures all together through a well balanced taste while respecting each ingredient. Having worked with several Indian clients and guests while in Bangkok, Chef Dessi is familiar with the demands and flavour preferences of the Indian palette. He adds, “I will continue to follow the corporate standard at the hotel, but also move towards research and development. We have already been awarded in the past, but I hope to create, improve and implement new patterns at all times.”
Talking about one trend that is catching up from the global kitchens, he says, “Chefs are seen going back to the basics, be it South East Asia, Europe or the US markets. It is now important to retain the quality of the product with focus on the plate. Chefs have learned to respect the ingredients and understand textures, flavours to a deeper level. No one plays around with the authenticity of a dish and prefers to present it with less changes.”
Chef Dessi who has been classically trained in French cuisine shares that he enjoys learning more about Indian ingredients and dishes. He mentions, “Over the period of time, I have come to develop my own style of cooking. But nowadays, chefs are modernising to play with textures and structures in order to create their own cooking style. I think more molecular techniques will continue to stay in the kitchens while the biggest growth curve will be seen in the stand alone restaurants.”