Monday, June 17 2019

People

Siddharth Mathur

 
Recently returned from London and now a partner at the new Smoke House Room facing the Qutab Minar, Siddharth Mathur chats with Aekta Kapoor over a seven-course meal designed by him, featuring molecular gastronomy and an eclectic cuisine that defies definition.
 
After nine years in London’s corporate corridors, Siddharth ‘Sid’ Mathur returned to India to follow his first love – food. As food and beverage director of Impresario Entertainment & Hospitality, Mathur has a pan-India role overseeing the group’s thirty-odd restaurants, but he says it is still that shared dream project, Smoke House Room, that has been his learning ground. Being involved from its inception, Mathur has “tried to master everything it takes to open a restaurant – from plumbing to design, licenses to sound and kitchen equipment, and of course menu tastings and the final menu creation.”
 
The food at Smoke House is highly innovative and experimental. How did the cuisine concept come about?
 
We want the menu to appeal to many kinds of diners, at different levels. Although our cooking techniques are very innovative, at the end of the day, even if our diner is not familiar with progressive cuisine, it’s the flavour on the plate that shines through.
 
What inspired the unusual décor?
 
We wanted to create an experimental space that would contradict stereotypes and expectations of what our guests thought they would get on their plates.
 
Tell us about your new sommelier; he’s quite the entertainer, isn’t he?
 
Davide Zubani is an Italian with a very unconventional, yet fascinating perspective to wine. Having your menu paired with wines by Davide is an experience in itself.
 
How popular are your preset menus (‘Hunter’ and ‘Gatherer’)?
 
We encourage first-time diners to order the tasting menus. Both Hunter and Gatherer allow guests to try a variety of smaller portioned dishes, while being thoroughly pampered. Dinner meets theatre, and diners enjoy a multi-sensory journey, filled with surprises. The response has been fantastic, with many of our regular clients choosing them on successive visits, as well as new clients who have heard about them.
 
Do Delhi-ites experiment with food?
 
The average number of people who are willing to try new things is growing rapidly. There is considerably more exposure now, whether it’s through travelling internationally, or even through TV shows like Masterchef Australia and Top Chef.
 
From banking to the food business, what led you down this path?
 
Throughout my nine years in banking, I had always been obsessed with food, restaurants and cooking. In 2008, private banking hit a low. I saw that as an opportunity to follow my dream of opening a restaurant. When I resigned, the first thing my country head said was, “You better be leaving to open a restaurant”! Even in my days at Citibank, I would be roped in to creating menus for events or choosing restaurants. I also hosted a Jamie Oliver dinner for our clients in London, where I made ravioli with him!
 
After living in London, how has the change of location been for you?
 
Having lived in Delhi at various stages, the change wasn’t that unsettling. What I miss most is the variety of food, the ease of traveling within Europe, and my frequent weekend trips to New York
 
Does your wife share your food fetish?
 
Absolutely! In fact, our love for food is how we became so close, and luckily for me, she’s a fantastic cook! Our first date was over a twelve-course tasting menu, and I was amazed to find someone equally passionate about food. We cook together very often, and the only fights we ever have are over how much salt to add!
 
 
 
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