Top Indian chefs visit Sicily
On Monday May 3rd, leading Sicilian producers Planeta hosted a fascinating meeting of palates, as representatives of four of London’s leading Indian restaurants visited the winery’s latest venture, cookery school and top hotel La Foresteria.
The Planeta family had noticed that their wines are extremely well-suited to Indian and other Asian cuisines, and with this the germ of an idea began. With the help of UK importers Enotria, Planeta invited leading Indian chefs and restaurant managers from four of London’s top Indian restaurants. Cooking for the group were:
Sanjay Dwivedi, Chef patron of Zaika in Kensington (and currently appearing on Iron Chef UK on Channel 4.)
Alfred Prasad, Executive Chef at Tamarind Restaurant
Saikat Nag, Executive Chef, The Bombay Brasserie
These three noteworthy chefs were joined by Rajesh Suri, Director and CEO of the Tamarind group, Santanu Mazumbar - Restaurant Manager at the renowned Quilon Restaurant, Arun Harnal, the well-known Manager of the Bombay Brasserie, and Luigi Gaudino, Sommelier at Zaika. Angelo Pumilia, resident chef at La Foresteria, had the demanding task of coordinate all the cuisine, from supplying the ingredients to the collaboration in the kitchen. And the welcome dinner was 100% Sicilian in a memorable exchange of food cultures.
The aim of the Indian chefs was to use the fantastic local produce available in Sicily to produce a wide range of flavours and styles in the course of several meals. Alessio Planeta, winemaker, matched the foods to their range of subtle and diverse wines.
Amit Roy, journalist with the Telegraph of India and Eastern Eye, was present and here is an excerpt of his report:
"For the gala banquet, Alfred Prasad, chef at the Tamarind, offered grilled scallops on spiced tomato chutney, accompanied by Chardonnay ’08, and for dessert, cardamom rice pudding with mango coulis, served with a sweet wine, Passito ’08.
For the main courses, Lamb Roghani was preceded by Murg Khatta Pyaz and Masala Red Snapper — all three items were made by Nag, who worked through the night.
The lamb was accompanied by two red wines, Santa Cecilia ’06 and Syrah ’05, the chicken by Cerasuolu ’08, and the Red Snapper by a white, Cometa ’08.
The Telegraph did notice that the waiters cleared away plates mostly wiped clean. Nag and Prasad were also warmly applauded when they took a bow before their guests."
You can read the whole of Amit Roy's piece here.
La Foresteria, opened in November 2009, is a luxuriously appointed cookery school and hotel in the midst of Planeta’s celebrated vineyards near Menfi in South West Sicily.
Francesca Planeta says: “Indian food is a great match with the style of our wines, especially our red wines which have spicy notes and character. We have many local ingredients in Sicily that are part of important Indian dishes, so we liked the idea to offer an exchange of cultures, inviting them to our island and new resort La Foresteria, which has food and wine at its heart. This is the first of many occasions where international chef will come to cook with us, bringing their popular dishes and learning about Sicilian food and wine culture to take back home.”
Enotria Sales Director Eric Berneau says “This is a very exciting challenge on two levels; taking some of the best chefs from this hugely influential category to discover true Mediterranean food and wine culture; and secondly for everyone to recognise that top-flight Indian food represents a tremendous opportunity for building wine sales when properly matched to the right wines.”
Find out more about the Planeta cookery school here.