To say that Goan chef Rahul Gomes Pereira is a fan of Indian food would be an understatement. The culinary genius behind Jamun is known to celebrate and put a contemporary spin on food from different parts of the country, especially his birthplace Goa, through his cooking.
His mastery of the art has led to him being named one of the top 30 chefs in India at the recently held FoodSuperstars 2023 awards, organised by Culinary Culture in association with Campo Viejo. HELLO! managed to catch up with the chef for a quick chat about his journey, festive season cooking and more. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation…
In Conversation With Chef Rahul Gomes Pereira
HELLO!: What are some of your earliest food memories?
Rahul Gomes Pereira: “I come from a household of six and we had a large dining table with a lot of food on it. A meal was never complete without six or seven dishes. I still look forward to going back home even today just to sit around that table and dine with family and have a selection of foods laid out.”
H!: You’re known to highlight recipes from around the country and present them in a modern way. What is the inspiration behind that and what is your process?
RGP: “I really enjoy travelling, and I travel a lot. Most of my menus are based on things I’ve tried, things I’ve tasted and things I’ve enjoyed. Usually, the process is that as soon as I eat it, I know that I want to put it on the menu. And when I want to put it on the menu, of course, I don’t want to put it in the same form or shape or presentation that it is currently being served as. Then comes the process of R&D and actually trying to figure out what we can do with it. And, I would be lying sitting here and saying that I do that all by myself. I have a brilliant team that really helps me and it’s because of them I’m here today.”
H!: What are the things you look forward to eating during the festive season? Do you think there’s added pressure on you, as a chef, to whip up delicious goodies for your loved ones during this time?
RGP: “Since I went to culinary school, there’s always been the added pressure of whipping up something for others to eat. I think I don’t take that responsibility lightly, especially in the festive season and when I’m at home. Some of my best menus are cooked during the festive season at home and because it’s enjoyable cooking and it’s fun and it’s small quantities for large hearts. I’m looking forward to eating my mother’s Prawn Pulao with her homemade mango pickle.”
H!: What are some lessons that you’ve learned from being in the kitchen that you think most people could benefit from?
RGP: “Patience. Nothing comes quickly. I think you just have to wait it out, make mistakes, learn from them. And always be confident, never doubt yourself.”
H!: What is it about the current Indian culinary scene that excites you the most?
RGP: “Oh, just the entire culinary scene currently is ever-changing. I just love the fact that consumers have become more open to the idea of experimentation and trying out new cuisines and spending money on new things. Restaurants run on people walking in through the door, and I’m just so happy that the Indian culinary scene right now is buzzing and restaurants are full. That helps us push our boundaries.”
H!: What are you excited about for the future now?
RGP: “I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I really don’t plan ahead too much. I’m one to live in the moment but I’m really excited to see restaurants coming to the forefront in India and hotels changing their attitude towards F&B as well. This entire mix of standalones, hotels and this huge F&B fraternity coming together. I think, there are big things to come and India’s really going to shine in food and beverage space.”