Vanshika Bhatia, chef and partner, OMO Cafe.
As the world grapples with the effects of climate change and the consequences of unsustainable agricultural practices, chefs and restaurateurs are looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into their menus. Vanshika Bhatia, chef and partner at OMO Café, chatted with ET HospitalityWorld about her journey, how she sources her ingredients, incorporates traditional recipes into her menu, and her vision for the future of sustainable cuisine.
Bhatia’s journey has been nothing short of a dream. She has interned at Noma, worked with Gaggan Anand, and more. As a teenager, she pursued baking but always desired to become a chef. She has always desired to pursue culinary education. Her dedication to preserving her native cuisine, working with sustainable products, and promoting Indian cuisine globally using indigenous Indian ingredients distinguishes her in the culinary world.
Bhatia spoke about the importance of sourcing ingredients directly from farmers and suppliers who use sustainable farming practices. She stressed “the importance of ongoing conversations with producers to understand their philosophy and to ensure that the ingredients are sustainably produced.”
There has been a gradual shift in consumer demand towards sustainable ingredients. Bhatia has been making efforts to create awareness about the importance of sustainable ingredients, not just to tackle bigger issues but also because local, regional, and seasonal ingredients are far superior in quality and taste. She explains, “The restaurant’s menu is entirely dependent on seasonal produce, We adapt their dishes based on the availability of ingredients. This approach not only supports local farmers but also ensures that the ingredients are fresh and of high quality.”
She adds, “I believe the key lies in understanding the stories behind these recipes. Each recipe or dish is shaped around what is available, how the local weather impacts life, the cooking and preserving techniques, and the abundance or scarcity of certain things. All these factors make a dish. It is about learning this process and applying it to what you want to work with.
Talking about challenges in incorporating sustainable ingredients into traditional Nagaland cuisine, she says, “Not at all. At its core, Naga cuisine practises sustainability every step of the way. The entire cuisine is based on what is available, whether farmed or foraged locally, and this way of cooking has been practised for generations. It has been amazing learning the very basics of this cuisine and working creatively with it to bring a menu inspired by it.”
As a chef, she believes that the industry is finally waking up to the importance of sustainable ingredients and age-old recipes. The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has played a crucial role in raising awareness about ancient grains like amaranth and millet, and how they can be used in modern cooking. She adds, “It’s no longer just a niche trend, but a movement that more and more chefs and restaurants are embracing. Customers are also becoming more conscious of their food choices, and they want to know where their ingredients come from and how they were grown. It’s a slow but steady process, and I’m optimistic that we’re moving in the right direction.”
“Our mission goes beyond just showcasing the richness of Naga cuisine. We aim to inspire and educate the world about the importance of sustainable practices in the culinary industry. By incorporating traditional and regional ingredients, we hope to contribute to a more resilient and responsible food ecosystem. It is our duty as chefs to lead the way in this crucial transformation towards a more sustainable and mindful future,” Bhatia signs off.
Published On May 9, 2023 at 03:00 PM IST
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? Read More Sustainability & LEED ?…is about learning this process and applying it to what you want to work with. Talking about challenges in incorporating sustainable ingredients into traditional Naga land cuisine, she says, “Not at all. At its core, Naga cuisine practises sustainability every step of the way. The entire cuisine is based on what is available, whether farmed or…Vanshika Bhatia, chef and partner, OMO Cafe. As the world grapples with the effects of climate change and the consequences of unsustainable agricultural practices, chefs and restaurateurs are looking for ways to incorporate sustainability into their menus. Vanshika Bhatia , chef and partner at OMO Café, chatted with ET HospitalityWorld about her… indiatimes.com Total Engagement: 0