There is a story behind the plating of food at every star-quality kitchen. We take you backstage of one to understand the efficiency and warmth that leads to a mouth-watering platter.
Every kitchen has a story. The Rox Restaurant at Hyatt Regency Kathmandu has a fairly open one—it is a live kitchen, where trained kitchen personnel whip up culinary delights with meticulous precision accompanied by a warm smile. Welcome to the world of The Rox Bar, where guest satisfaction is top priority, and the team of white-aproned professionals take on multi-purpose roles—of chefs, of confidants, and of warm-hearted individuals who seek satisfaction in the smiles and murmurs of approvals from guests. The easy interaction and intimacy offered by the open kitchen is appreciated by patrons.
The openness also offers an array of challenges for the team. The unhindered view of the kitchen across a high marble counter means that hygiene needs to be top-notch, and pleasant cheerfulness is a prerequisite. For Hari Chandra Giri, Sous Chef; Deepa Lama and Bijay Gurung, Chef de Partie; Paritosh Kharel (Pizza section), Narayan Hari Prasain (Grill section) and Naveen Maharjan (Pasta section), Commie Chefs; and Roshan Tako, Trainee, life revolves around carefully crafted processes and invisible-to-the-eye teamwork that ensure the Hyatt experience is delivered daily at this signature restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.
A typical day at Rox starts with request for resources through the official requisition system, Iscala. The Executive Chef reviews the demand, balances it against estimated table cover and occupancy, and approves as per budget. The Commie Chef picks up the order from the main store to the outlet store from where supply is segregated to the four kitchen stations—cold, pizza, grill, and pasta. As the guests pour in for drinks and dinner—a typical evening at Rox starts at 6:00 p.m., and ends at 10, the kitchen order taker (KOT) delivers guest orders to the Sous Chef, who reads out orders as per table. On hearing what is required at each table, the station chefs dive into action, sourcing supply from the in-kitchen temperature-controlled, stainless steel compartments onto the tables. From then on, it’s a race against time to plate a quality meal that matches or exceeds guest expectations. Portions are carefully measured—a pizza dough weighs 180 grams. Each plate that goes out weighs roughly between 220 – 250 grams; the side dishes and garnishes are prepared to complement nutritional value, taste, and color. Fine-tuned work, communication, ownership, and the desire to excel by the team delivers an unparalleled culinary experience to guests at The Rox.
The cooking of two head-turners…
…and may I add that their pleasant assault on the senses as the flavors explode in the mouth is an experience that every gourmet should experience. Executive Chef Santosh Koradi loves playing outside the box. Koradi, with years of international experience under his belt, cooked up two delicious delights for us—Sea Scallops with coconut risotto, mushroom, cherry tomato, red cabbage with lemon foam; Wood-fired lamb chops, carrot, orange martini sauce, asparagus, and pumpkin ganache.
Chef Koradi has a rule; he never tastes the food he prepares. “I love getting first-hand reaction to my preparation from the guests I cook for. For many, it is unconventional, but that is how I function,” he explains. “But all experimentation doesn’t necessarily entail a lot of risk-taking if one gets the basics right. For me, there are certain rules of thumb—proper method of cooking, the right temperature, correct quantity of salt, the right garnishes for texture, flavor, color combination, and the final assembly of the dish. If one scores in all these areas, there is no harm in experimenting and pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Of course, it is also important that we keep guest preferences in mind. Nothing is complete if one doesn’t know the guests well. Therefore, research and discovery is key to success.”
The team of six chefs at the The Rox Restaurant allowed us entry into the sanctum sanctorum—the kitchen. As we talked and photographed our way through the entire process, the superb craftsmanship and meticulous workflow was mesmerizing. It is but little wonder why The Rox has consistently scored high among patrons. It was the perfect example of mise en place, meaning “everything in its place”. Thus were born two palate champions.