From the very popular hotel 37th Crescent Hotel in Bangalore, Aromas of South plays a delicious role in fulfilling ones hunger without complaint. The restaurant which serves authentic South Indian cuisines from Kerala, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu is the place worth going to.
Eveningflavors was given an opportunity to meet the Head Chef of Aromas of South, Mr. John Dominic Paulraj. Anila Kurian took this occasion to get to know the young and charismatic chef and about his small life in and around Aromas of South.
1. What got your inspired to start cooking? Was it something you always wanted to do?
My uncle was in the same profession and when he went abroad to pursue his career, I wanted to do the same thing as he did. My uncle was my inspiration.
2. If you were given a chance to be somebody else and not a chef, who would you be?
I would've probably been a lawyer. It is a fascinating career. But in my fantasy world, I would want to be Rajnikanth.
3. How do you keep the restaurant running in chaotic situations? How do you calm everyone around you?
I try to keep a calm face all the time. I don't always command them to do this and that; I help them when I see that they are struggling. That's how I keep them calm-by offering help.
4. When was the longest you have worked in a kitchen without a single break?
When I was working in Tamil Nadu in the year 2000, I worked for a week continuously without any break. I had to take care of the night shift as well as the pantry department. I haven't been that busy ever since.
5. Which was your prize winning dish?
It was the Lobster Nairoli when I was working with the Leela Palace, Mumbai.
6.What are some of your favorite dishes that you prepared and also which everyone loved?
All kinds of Chettinadu dishes are my favorites.
7. According to you, what is a satisfying meal?
If it is lunch, there has to some rice, a good dal and chappati. And if it's starters, it should include something crunchy and fried, like chicken.
8. Why did you choose to specialize in South Indian cuisines?
When I first started in the hotel industry, my interests were baking and preparing continental dishes. But my head chef would always tell me that I am much better off preparing South Indian cuisines as it is much more valuable. I didn't take him seriously at that time but as time passed by, I realized that he was right. I am happy as I ever could be and I know I have made him proud.
9. What do you do when you get your dishes returned back into the kitchen because your customer found some fault in it?
I would directly go back to the customer and ask them what they found to be wrong with the dish. I would also ask what they think should be changed or improved. I will take it back and prepare the dish as they expect me to do it.
10. Tell us something about yourself other than your life at Aromas of South.
I run three other restaurants apart from Aromas of South. One is Bon South in Koramangala and Coastal Junction in Indiranagar serving South Indian dishes. I have another restaurant in Tamil Nadu named Delight in Hyderabad serving pure vegetarian dishes.
11. Since you always cook for someone, do you have a special person in mind whom you wish cooked for you instead?
My mother. She's always the best.
12. What are your other talents besides preparing delicious food?
I am good with astrology. I can read the palm of someone's hand and predict what's going to happen. It started off as a joke, but till date, I have never been wrong. It's part of the 6th sense.
13. You have been given a wonderful opportunity to serve some great people. Tell us about your experience.
I got the opportunity to meet Ravi Shankar, the famous Kannada actor. He asks for me and prefers my cooking. That I believe is a great opportunity. I was also given a chance to serve Sachin Tendulkar and Anil Kumble who loves my Oppumavu.
14. What's Aromas of South's signature dish?
I would say it's Yelaneer Payasam. It's a Kerala dish, but it's very popular and quite demanding.
15. What's your most favorite dish out of the menu at Aromas of South?
My one favorite dish out of the entire menu is Kongunadu Kari Kozhamleu which is tender pieces of lamb with baby brinjal.