‘Dhabas Bring Back Childhood memories..’- Chef Kunal Kapur
In Conversation with Vishakha Talreja

chef kunal kapur
Besides Indian cuisine, I love authentic Chinese.
Chef Kunal Kapur
Executive Sous Chef, The Leela, Gurgaon

He might be endowed with the chocolate boy looks but Chef Kunal Kapur is the quintessential Kebab and Curry guy. Chef Kunal is the Executive Sous Chef of The Leela, Gurgaon but is popular for being the judge and host of MasterChef India. He talks about his passion for food and travel in this interview. We love the tip that he shares with us. Read on:

Which are your favourite restaurants (located in hotels) in India?

China Kitchen in Hyatt, Akira Back in JW Marriott and Megu in Leela Delhi.

If you have to do a food trail as a traveller and food enthusiast which city will you choose in India? What about abroad?

I would most definitely choose a route from Delhi to Lahore via Amritsar. This is a route that has the best Punjabi dhabas and exploring them would be interesting. Dhabas for me have a strong memory of traveling in my childhood with my parents. Visiting them again would be like revisiting childhood memories for me. Also on this route are iconic places such as Murthal known for parantha, Ambala for dal makhni, Ludhiana for sarson saag, Amritsar for Lawrence road eateries and Lahore for anarkali bazaar and its dhaba feasts. I will be doing a dhaba trail on this route as part of the Times Passion Trail on 23rd December.

Outside of India I would love to follow a culinary trail in Melbourne covering the great wine, produce and sights there. Australia is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. The experience of its sights, smell, food, wine, vineyards, chefs and associated adventures is something that I would love to explore again.


chef kunal kapur Chef Kunal in Yarra Valley on his recent trip to Australia

There was a time when there was street food or restaurants in five star hotels and nothing in between. Today there are many stand-alone restaurants that are as good as five star restaurants. But what’s major difference you feel between stand alone restaurants and hotel restaurants that you think still exists?

If you look at quality, produce, ambience, wine or service there is no difference left. Restaurants have become very competitive and charge and give the same as a 5 star restaurant. With a hotel there is a fixed clientele that stay with the hotel so automatically your restaurants get business whereas the standalones have to hunt for each and every cover. It’s a tough and competitive business.

Which is your favourite cuisine when it comes to eating out, besides the kebabs and curries of course?

I love Chinese. The authentic Chinese and not the Indianised version. Though I am not saying I dislike Indianised chinese but I just prefer to have authentic Chinese.

Share a tip with our readers on eating out.

Today you have options and you can choose from plenty. Now my suggestion is call up the restaurant and speak to the chef. Ask him what he suggests from the menu. A chef will always tell you a dish that is the best.

We hear you love travelling. Which is your favourite hotel?

During my recent stay in Gold Coast, Australia I stayed at Palazzo Versace hotel. I loved the warm service with luxurious interiors. The rooms were spacious and cuisine at Vanitas the Italian restaurant was fabulous.


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