Avinash Mohan spent two decades working as a chef at some of the world’s top five-star hotels. Here, we find out how he brought his native Indian cuisine to the forefront.
How did it all begin?
The start of my career followed a somewhat typical path. As a diligent student with stellar grades, I pursued a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I vividly recall traveling 15 kilometers a day to attend computer practice in my second year of college. I relied on Luna, a bike that made the journey quite exhausting. It used to take me 40 minutes to reach my destination, only to find a solitary computer for numerous students.
Meanwhile, some of my friends were immersed in preparing for hotel management entrance exams. Despite my initial lack of interest in hospitality, I decided to take the exams on a whim. Surprisingly, I was the only one among my friends to excel.
My admiration for cooking stemmed from watching my grandfather and mother prepare delicious dishes. Although my interest in culinary arts was present, I hadn’t considered it as a profession.
Instead, I earned a spot at IHM PUSA, Delhi, to pursue hotel studies. While there, a senior — who aspired to be a chef — invited me to assist with kitchen tasks, marking the start of my culinary journey.
With a growing passion for cooking, I secured a campus placement at the renowned Oberoi Center of Learning and Development. Under the guidance of Chef Baranidharan, a culinary expert at Oberoi Hotels, my career as a culinary professional began. I haven’t looked back since.
As a chef/owner, how do you approach menu development and strive for innovative dining experiences?
In the pursuit of crafting innovative dining experiences, I prioritize the exploration of distinctive flavor combinations. Consequently, this involves a continuous effort to stay abreast of culinary trends. Thus, ensuring that our offerings reflect contemporary tastes. Drawing inspiration from a variety of cuisines, I aim to infuse our menu with diverse and exciting elements. I make sure it has elements of contemporary as well the depth of tradition. The integration of seasonal and locally sourced ingredients is a cornerstone of our approach. This not only supports sustainability but also adds dynamic.
Our menu has an ever-changing dimension, keeping it in tune with the rhythms of nature. I encourage my team to actively contribute creative ideas, which enhances the overall culinary innovation.
It is important to add that customer feedback serves as an invaluable compass in navigating the evolving landscape of preferences. By attentively listening to our patrons, we can make informed adjustments to the menu, striking a delicate equilibrium between the comfort of familiar flavors and the thrill of culinary innovation. This feedback loop ensures that our dining experiences remain both exciting and satisfying for our diverse clientele.
What can you tell us about your catering service, Hideout Events and Catering?
Hideout Events and Catering specializes in creating memorable experiences through personalized catering services. We work closely with our clients to tailor events to their unique preferences and vision.
Our process begins with in-depth consultations where we discuss specific themes, dietary preferences, and overall event goals. We take pride in diverse culinary options, from exquisite plated dinners to interactive food stations, enhancing your event experience. Moreover, our team thrives on creativity. Thus, we often customize menus to reflect the client’s tastes and the nature of the event.
Whether it’s a corporate gathering, wedding or special celebration, we aim to bring a distinctive touch to each occasion. Furthermore, to foster effective communication, we maintain an open dialog throughout the planning process. Consequently, this ensures that every detail aligns with the client’s expectations.
Moreover, we specialize in smaller niche events, whether at the client’s home, yacht, or even a dessert setting. Alongside outdoor catering, we also have a banquet hall with a capacity of 60 guests.
What inspired the launch of Rasam by Avinash Mohan?
Inspired by a deep passion for South Indian cuisine, Rasam by Avinash Mohan aims to showcase the region’s rich culinary heritage. Recognizing the need for an authentic space, Rasam pays tribute to the region’s diverse traditions. Additionally, our focus on rare and traditional recipes enhances the dining experience, going beyond popular dishes to explore lesser-known gems. This approach offers a unique and educational journey for diners to discover the nuances of South Indian gastronomy.
Furthermore, the use of unique spice mixes is a distinctive element of our culinary approach. These blends are crafted meticulously, drawing from traditional spice combinations while adding a contemporary twist. They not only enhance the flavors of our dishes but also provide a harmonious balance that sets Rasam apart.
In conclusion, we are committed to innovation within the framework of authentic recipes. This ensures that our patrons experience South Indian cuisine in a way that is both familiar and refreshingly novel.
How do you integrate sustainability into Cochin Harbour Restaurant?
At Cochin Harbour Restaurant, sustainability is woven into our ethos, especially given our focus on Kerala’s seafood.
We prioritize practices like sourcing seafood locally and from sustainable fisheries to support the economy and ensure responsible harvesting. Furthermore, we adapt our menu to seasonal seafood availability to prevent overfishing and maintain freshness. Additionally, we minimize food waste by carefully portioning, creative ingredient use, composting and repurposing by-products. Furthermore, we employ energy-efficient appliances and practices. We also minimize the use of single-use plastics. Reducing the use of plastic is a priority. Thus, we explore eco-friendly packaging options and use reusable materials. We are engaged with local communities and advocate sustainable fishing practices.
By integrating these measures, Cochin Harbour Restaurant offers delicious Kerala seafood while respecting and preserving the marine environment for future generations.
How do you envision the future of food?
The future of food encompasses a range of trends. I believe it will be dominated by plant-based food, sustainable practices and will be tech integrated. Furthermore, I believe that we’ll witness the trend of global fusion, personalized nutrition and food innovation. Additionally, culinary tourism and community-centric models will be trending. The dynamic future will be shaped by technology and sustainability. It will adapt to evolving consumer demands for diverse, nutritious and responsibly sourced options.
What are your plans for 2024?
In 2024, my strategic plans focus on various key aspects. Firstly, through innovative menu expansions, I aim to introduce exciting dishes. Thus, exploring unique flavors and staying current with culinary trends at both restaurants. Simultaneously, sustainability initiatives will be implemented. Customer engagement is another priority, involving interactive experiences, loyalty programs and digital platforms for feedback and enhanced experiences.
Community collaboration will play a crucial role as I forge partnerships with local suppliers, farmers and businesses.
I plan to broaden the event company’s portfolio, adding diverse, memorable events, forging new collaborations and introducing innovative concepts for evolving client preferences. Additionally, staff training and development will be a cornerstone.
Enhancing the digital presence through social media, a user-friendly website and online promotions will also be my priority. Lastly, I will ensure the businesses continue to deliver high-quality experiences.