India is a real pot pourri of flavours - Chef Deepak Barua, LM Thimphu
India is a real pot pourri of flavours - Chef Deepak Barua, LM Thimphu

What all things come along in designing your restaurant menu?

While designing a restaurant menu, culture, taste of people and availability of ingredients play a vital role. Any good menu should be able to deliver something exciting yet authentic meal experience to guests.

What menu tweaks are you planning to introduce to stand out from the crowd?

This is the only hotel in Thimphu with a Pan Asian restaurant.With our carefully curated and authentic Pan Asian flavours and savoury South East Asian cuisines to tempt the palate, SeseShamu presents an inspirational dining experience. Bhutan being a country which attracts lot of Asian tourists, we are planning to introduce a Bento box style lunch menu.

How is the food palate different in Bhutan as compared to India?

Bhutanese food has a very distinct flavor and most dishes tend to incorporate cheese and chili. This is the only country in the world where chili is not used as a seasoning but a vegetable. Some of the favourites include soups and stews of meat, lentils, dried vegetables, spiced with chili peppers and cheese. The cuisine in India differs from region to region. There are a lot of religious and cultural influences in the Indian Cuisine. It also varies seasonally, depending on which fruits and vegetables are available. It is very diverse- Southern spices and ways of cooking is very different from North or East. India is a real pot pourri of flavours, yet each region stands out as unique.

Tell us something about the supply chain management in your hotel. Who are the suppliers? Can you name some?

Bhutan being a landlocked kingdom,it is still developing its supplier and vendor management. For our hotel we do buy vegetables and fruits from the local vegetable market to support local vendor. We also buy our imported and Asian ingredients imported by local importers. To name few “My Mart” and “Eight Eleven” are the biggest importers we are currently dealing with.  For our imported meats and sea food we rely on our vendors in Singapore or Thailand.

Comment something on the involvement of senses in the restaurant?

An exceptional and satisfying dining experience is also a sensory experience. Today there are restaurants which are moving forward and breaking traditional norms, whereby they are experimenting with food and using senses to give a wow effect to guests. Use of molecular gastronomy is one such example. What you see on your plate, what you can smell and what you can taste are all important aspects of good dining. The textures, presentation and food design are also key elements.

What are the different types of cuisines served at your restaurant?

We satisfy every craving with the global flavours and artful presentation of our two fine restaurants and Lounge bar. Our signature all day dining restaurant, Latest Recipe has a mix of local and international cuisine, including the signature Le Meridien breakfast.  Our stylish speciality restaurant, SeseShamu serves authentic flavours from across South East Asia.

Latitude 27 complements the creative atmosphere of the Le Meridien Hub by drawing guests in with the sights, sounds, and smells of a coffee bar by day and a cocktail bar at night, showcasing our brand’s sparkling program.

What is the contribution of good menu in restaurant business? How are new techniques in food helping the restaurant grow?

A good food menu plays an integral part in a success of any restaurant. Technically without a good menu and tasty food no restaurant can survive. Innovative food offerings, attractive description of your dishes that also generate curiosity while at the same time whet your appetite, are all qualities of a good menu.

Menus should be easy to read and understand. It should have the right amount of information, yet encourage some ‘conversation’ points with the servers or even amongst the guests ordering. All this, it is found, sets the tone for a good dining experience. It really starts with your menu.

An ideal menu should always have ‘chefs specials’ or the restaurant’s signature dishes mentioned. A menu should also keep changing even if some ‘favourites’ are kept the same.

What inspired you to become a chef? Tell something about your journey in the world of food.

I belong to the family of chefs and so you can say it’s in my DNA.  I started my career with Taj hotels as management trainee under Taj’s veteran chef Arvind Saraswat.  I have been and trained in Traditional European, European fusion and Lebanese cuisine. I have worked or trained in very exclusive and respected restaurants like Orient Express, Patio, Macchan, Chambers, Trattoria and Mynt.

In my 13 years culinary journey I have worked with Taj hotels, Millennium Hotels, Ista Hotels, Hyatt Hotels before joining Starwood Hotels and Resorts. I can proudly say that I have learnt from the best in the field.

How familiar are you with the legalities involved in opening a restaurant? Are you planning to open up your own restaurant?

We all have to know the regulations and licences needed for restaurants as we are in a very professional industry and an international hotel chain. Licences range from food safety licences to pollution, health and fire safety licences. At present I enjoy being part of Le Meridien. Cuisine is one of the signature elements of the brand and that gives me a lot of opportunities to innovate and try out new things. I feel i am still learning and am enjoying the process. Who knows, later on in life I might start something of my own. Right now I am happy to hone my skill and just make good food for people seeking unique dining experiences.  

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