Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Chef of the Week: Kirti Pant

Kirti Pant

Affable and focused, Kirti Pant, as Corporate Chef, Tiffin Bistro and Tashan, Philadelphia, is responsible for standardizing product quality at 7 locations of this chain. He lead the opening and successful start of 7th location (Tiffin bistro) with an upscale menu in comparison to other stores, which included creating eclectic menu, purchasing small wares, training staff both kitchen and front of the house about the menu. The restaurant got great reviews from the first week itself, including 5 stars on yelp. He revamped the menu at Tashan- introducing Tapas style modern Indian cuisine small plates to the absolute delight of the guests.

Today his greatest accomplishment  is leading a team of 35 across 7 stores for achieving an annual sales target of $7 million and ensuring the exacting standards set by him are met all the time.

In the past Chef Kirti Pant has been at the helm of affairs at many iconic restaurants such as Junoon in New York, Amber in San Francisco, Junnoon in Palo Alto, Tamarind in New York and Cinnamon Club in London, before which he worked at the scenic Taj Ganges, Varanasi and Taj Mahal, New Delhi. This is an interview I did with him in 2009 while he was still at Junoon, Palo Alto. We'll soon track down what he is up to now. First the backgrounder story!

1.         What is the latest addition to your menu?
Bombay Pao Bhaji in Filo Tartlets.

2.         The hottest selling item on your menu.
Tandoori Halibut with Coconut Ginger Sauce and Curry Leaf Semolina.

3.         One dish you are extremely proud of creating.
Rice-flaked Sea Bass with Kokum sauce.

4.         Which is the oldest dish on your menu?
Old Delhi style chicken.

5.         Most expensive dish on the menu?
Tandoori halibut with coconut ginger sauce and curry leaf semolina.

6.         Name some celebrities who frequent your

restaurant? Their favourite dishes?

Michelle Pfeiffer likes Halibut, Narayan Murthi relishes our Paneer cake.

7.         The dish on your menu that gives the most value for money.
Old Delhi style Chicken.

8.         The best thing about being a chef
Ability to be creative and help businesses and people succeed.

9.         The worst thing about being a chef.
Not having enough time to spend with family and friends.

10. One guest you wish to be able to create a dish for. Who would that be? And what would you serve him/her?
Barack Obama- Medium cooked Tandoori Lamb Chops with Mashed potatoes and Mint sauce
Tandoori Lamb Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Mint Sauce

11.    If you were not a chef, what would you have been? And why?
Probably an officer in the Indian Army, as I had cleared my written exam for combined defense services exam, but had already joined Taj by then.

12.    One chef you really admire and look up to?
Chef Aylur Shriram.

13.    What’s the USP of Junnoon?
Modern Indian food-bold, healthy and flavor intense, in a trendy upscale location with chic décor and warm friendly service.

14.    What do you like about the city you are in-Palo Alto?
Great weather, friendly people, quiet and peaceful.

15.  The best home cooked dish you enjoy. Who makes it?
Yellow dal, rice, okra and phulka made by Aparna (My wife). 

-Shivani Mohan 

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