Whether you’re a home cook or a professional chef who helms the kitchen of one of the most popular restaurants in the country, the pressure to whip up delicious treats during the festive season remains the same. Chef Mythrayie Iyer, Head Chef at Farmlore (Bengaluru), confirms this. She further adds, “We are electic with local sensibilities, so every time there’s a festival, we make it a point to dish out at least a course or two based around the occasion. When I whip up something that I have been eating for years myself, it brings out a different side of me!”
We caught up with the Chef right after she won the Campo Viejo Best Young Chef award at FoodSuperstars 2023. The awards, organized by Culinary Culture, are an annual ranking where 30 top chefs of the country were celebrated for their excellence in the field, along with other recognitions. “Honestly, I didn’t expect this. But as much as I feel good about it, I think it’s a lot of pressure to do more for the industry and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me,” said the Chef.
Chef Iyer, who has worked in some of the biggest kitchens in the world like Noma, has been making a niche for herself on the global fine dining scene and is one of the most exciting names to look out for in the country.
From leaving engineering to pursue her dreams of becoming a chef to dishing out her cooking hacks for the festive season, here’s an excerpt from our conversation with Chef Iyer…
In conversation with Chef Mythrayie Iyer
HELLO!: Can you recall your earliest food memories? Something that set you off on your culinary journey?
Mythrayie Iyer: “I think to start off with, my mom’s food. Paruppu Sadam, potato curry and spinach, it’s been a Sunday ritual at home. I think I would go gaga about it, even if I had to have it every day. This inspired me to cook as well as my mom and that’s how my culinary journey started.”
H!: How did you make the decision to switch from engineering to cooking?
MI: “It was instant. It just happened because my mom kept telling me from a young age that I was pretty good at it. But they didn’t expect me to be in the industry, because I come from a Brahmin family where we don’t even eat eggs. My family would always keep saying that ‘you’re always stuck in the kitchen, can you please go read a book?’ And then I had the BITS Pilani interview. At the same time, I had the final interview for a culinary arts institution. I had to choose one between them and I just went for culinary arts. And that’s how I am here.”
H!: What are some viral food trends that you wish people would never try again?
MI: “The vegan cereal. I can’t believe that somebody just puts ice, some coconut water and cereal and some fruits and says it’s cereal milk. Please don’t call water cereal milk. If you want to be vegan, I’m totally supportive. I am and I support the cause. But please don’t just choose the lifestyle to be a part of the fad.”
H!: What are you looking forward to eating this festive season?
MI: “Diwali? Always Murukku for Krishna Jayanti, with some jaggery. Simple, but bang on.”
H!: What would be your top three hacks for people to be smart with their cooking this festive season?
MI: “Go with your instinct. Whatever you think tastes good, go for it. Be a little conscious and be mindful about what you’re eating. Of course, it’s the festive season so you eat a lot, but that doesn’t mean you go bonkers. Eat a little responsibly and burn it out after that. Sorry! I have been a little into fitness for the last six, seven years!”
H!: What are you excited about for the future now?
MI: “To see how the restaurant unfolds honestly, and also my personal career. I’ve been with Farmlore for a long time because it’s always been a new day, every day. And I hope that’s how it turns out. I also am looking at doing something with fermentation eventually in the future. That’s been my area of interest for a long time. That’s also a reason why I interned at Noma. So eventually, if things all work out, maybe in the next 10-15 years, I’d like to have my own fermentation lab. And also work with restaurants and be their fermentation consultant. But that’s something for the future. And if it works out, it works out.”