IN CONVERSATION WITH EESHAAN KASHYAP
RESTAURATEUR / CULINARY ENTHUSIAST / CREATOR OF THE ZERO-WASTE KITCHEN
Gourmet food artist, Eeshaan Kashyap on keeping creative in our kitchens, zero waste menus and the future of dining in a restaurant.
Restaurateur Eeshaan Kashyap heads some of Delhi, Kolkata and Goa's most popular restaurants (Ping's Orient Cafe, Jamun, Sazerac) and its best kept secret bars (PCO, A Ta Maison, PDA). At a time when social gatherings have been reimagined by virtual sharing, Eeshaan's culinary magic on Instagram is a complete standout on our feeds. Join our virtual conversation shared over a cup of tea, as we learn more about the future of the restaurant experience.
Time Spent at Home
How have you been using your creative energy during the lockdown?
My kitchen has never been so busy with baking bread loaves, making syrups, pickling vegetables, frosting fudge brownies, and sipping delicious cocktails every day. I love cooking and drinking even more. The first two weeks have been like living in a food magazine surrounded by exotic photographs of pies, berries and decadent displays, tips from every cook on Instagram, and never-ending stories. I have been documenting all the recipes and would translate them into a blog or flipbook. I have been working on new menus, ideas, and concepts for the restaurants with the new normal.
"I must confess, cooking and sharing food has given me a huge sense of achievement, warmth, and comfort in these very difficult times. I have been using all my creative instincts to create new recipes and make the ordinary more exciting."
What have you learned about yourself during this time?
I have never felt more conscious about "wastage" and "resources" around me in my life than what these 8 weeks have taught us. I see "waste" as a new ingredient now and this has been a big realization for me. Using trash and curating a dish out of it is highly encouraging and will be the future.
Tell us about some of your new culinary experiments..
I have been cooking and sharing my dishes with friends and family following all the norms of social distancing and making new dishes with ingredients that are around me. I have been baking our own daily bread which I sometimes make with the leftover boiled rice and chives. I also made my own ginger ale with leftover pineapple skin and have finally got my pizza base right! There have been many experiments with new dishes and I will be adding some of them to the restaurant menus. Confession - I will never be thin again post the lockdown!
"My idea behind each dish was to make them as simple as possible and easy on ingredients."
How have you been creatively sourcing ingredients? Can homegrown artisanal products compete in a world of Amazon and Big Basket, as we all move towards online shopping?
I have been depending hugely on online delivery services from small farms to cheese suppliers. A lot of our commercial restaurant suppliers now have started B2C verticals which really helped to procure ingredients in the lockdown. I did not venture out to any big markets. If I couldn't find a specific ingredient - there's always a choice to make some tweaks.
"I think moving forward there will be a new range of homegrown, artisanal brands all around us, doing better business as people will trust them for their hygiene practices, uniqueness of the product, direct social media engagement and how the products are grown or sourced."
On the Future of the Restaurant Experience
How will Pass Code Hospitality raise the bar as many of us have discovered "cooking" and will now know more about preparation, cost, and quality of ingredients?
Apart from the usual changes, like new standard operating procedures for the service, following hygiene drills, contactless menu, advance reservations, we would also be focusing on "comfort" and "personalised service" as soon as we open.
"The new menus will now focus around local ingredients, produce and 'zero waste' across the group."
We will be offering all our dining guests immunity booster drinks or herbal tea concoctions with the start of the meal. All the menus will now have an "immunity icon" for dishes with superfoods and immunity benefits.
We will be installing an audio-based (contactless) system for guests to record their feedback which would go directly to the teams.
We would be making more private spaces within our restaurant, opening up our lawns for dining in Goa post the monsoon, and converting open spaces into private dining rooms with butler service.
We will also be conducting online chef modules for patrons to learn recipes with paid workshops, DIY meal kits and bottled cocktails. We are considering specialized setups for dinners with jazz artists, floral decor company to make it a one-stop experience within the restaurant or the chef could come home and cook.
"The overall experience will shift to digital platforms like using bar codes to scan the menu, offers of the day, or using codes to gain incentives in other outlets to increase the footfalls."
What changes will we see when it comes to restaurant dining with the new limitations?
The restaurant dining experience will completely change with the new normal. We will no longer see bigger groups of people coming to dine or gatherings happening for a long time. These events have all been cancelled.
There will no longer be any buffets, open table (communal) seating formats and the seating will be more private and away from each other. The setups now will be more intimate for sure. Both the dine-in capacity and staff will be reduced by 50%, retaining only the best to work the restaurant. The restaurants certainly will be more hygienic and safe following all the protocols and consumers will be well aware of all the standards.
Slow down, waste less, and care more for our communities, will the lockdown spirit continue or will most of us go back to our old habits as life resumes?
The best part of the lockdown is this feeling of being together and being happy in what little one has. Everyone will be more conscious of wastage and using resources logically. I hope people carry on with being more compassionate to one another. Life will resume with newer ways to enjoy, engage and communicate with one another.
We're Coming Over for Tea
We're coming over for tea, what's on the menu? Give us a quick summer cocktail made with our Maheshwar Blend.
I wish we can plan this real soon. Here's the menu I will prepare for our tea Tete-a-tete over a summer cocktail called The New Bloom.
Mulberry Scones with Cherry Preserve and Cream Chantilly.