Michelin-starred Indian chef to launch restaurant in Madrid

Madrid, Aug 10 (IANS) The first Indian chef to earn a Michelin star — and also regarded as one of the best in London — is slated to launch his new restaurant named ‘Benares’ in the Spanish capital of Madrid, media reported on Monday.

London-based chef Atul Kochhar, 44, plans to launch ‘Benares’, a spin-off from his Mayfair restaurant which won a Michelin star — hallmark of fine dining quality — in 2007, in September in the upmarket street of Zurbano, The Local news portal reported.

“I’m going to enjoy playing with the tapas concept drawing influence from street food from all across India,” Kocchar explained.

According to the chef, the colonial style restaurant promises to transport diners to the banks of the Ganges.

Stretching the length of the restaurant above a shallow pool of flowing water, a film shot from a barge floating past the ghats of India’s holy city of Varanasi will be projected onto the exterior wall.

“The idea is to recreate the feeling of Varanasi, the light, the sights, the smells,” he said.

“I was born in east India, moved with my family to north India and studied in south India so I take influence from all over. It’s more pan-Indian but it also takes into account locally-grown produce, so Madrid will be different to my other restaurants.”

One of the biggest challenges, he accepts, is to cater for the Spanish palate.

“It is a challenge I am really looking forward to. Spanish palates have become a lot more discerning. Spaniards have become more experimental, more open to learning about ethnic food.”

“Also pork and beef, which I haven’t used in London, is so prevalent here that I will be creating dishes with those meats,” he said. “It’s a chance to get a bit more into the Spanish mindset,” the chef added.

Kochhar won his first Michelin-star at his London restaurant ‘Tamarind’ in 2001 before earning another with his Mayfair restaurant ‘Benares’ in 2007.

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