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Advaita Vazirani

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As invigorating as it is to discover a haute new menu at an uber trending restaurant or that limited seat kitchen laboratory before the rest of the country catches on, there’s something inarguably comforting about having your local favourite – the place you return to again and again. Your tried-and-true. The most common question I am asked is which is my favourite restaurant. Now as hard as it may seem to believe – I cant pick one! I like different restaurants for different things, some for the ambience for a work lunch, others for their intimate setting, some for the brilliant black cod preparation or an unforgettable pizza crust and others for a smoothie! Everything has its time and so do restaurants for me.

Whenever I land in a new city, I make a beeline for a restaurant before heading to my hotel. If I’ve done my scouting (which i always have ), I know exactly where I am going: a local’s place, preferably chef – owned. A meal at such a spot (along with a visit to the farmer’s market) is my favourite way to ease into a city’s blood – stream.

Whatever the case, and wherever i might be, the alchemy of great food, service and hospitality washes away the vagaries of air travel, setting the table for the rest of the trip. Restaurants deliver a quick litmus test of a city’s food culture and a neighbourhood’s sense of community. Usually the menu celebrates something delicious growing, swimming or brewing nearby. Maybe the dining room showcases the creative talents of a local design firm or artist. As someone who travels especially to eat ( …and drink), i can vouch that a good meal can capture the spirit of a place as sharply as a postcard. Maybe that’s why those of us who love restaurants travel the extra mile and in some cases, thousands of miles to visit a great one.

We as a nation of eaters have evolved. We’ve transitioned away from a world of food TV and celebrity chefs—where you had to be a card-carrying foodie to talk about food with any authority—to one where everyone has a stake in the game. Food has gone wide—it has become, of all things, cool. Nobody cares if you know about Mozart or Leonardo anymore, but you had better be able to discuss the difference between ganache and couverture.

The fact is, food culture isn’t niche anymore. Food, for young people now, is creativity, commerce, politics, health, almost religion. For me, it is an acquired genre of knowledge, learned, honed as a skill over a period of years. After graduating from a prestigious Swiss hospitality school and gaining work experience in some of the most sought after hospitality establishments in Switzerland as well as the UK, I moved back to India to join my family’s reputed catering & restaurant business. In 2008 I was inducted as a director in my family business Foodlink. Knowledge of my worldly travels and a passion to turn each travel into a culinary expedition gave me tremendous exposure into the world’s gastronomic landscape which further led me to implement innovation and new trends in my own Business.

I conceptualised one of Mumbai’s most inspiring restaurant concepts Bungalow 9 and won the prestigious TIMES GOOD FOOD AWARD for 2 years consecutively. A perfectionist to the core, my passion for fine culinary made me gain tremendous reputation as a restaurateur in a short span of time.

Out of my sheer passion for gastronomy and being a true connoisseur of all things gourmet I started Food & Wine India in 2016. Food & Wine India is India’s only consumer oriented food & wine magazine and boasts of a quarterly circulation of 100k print copies across India. As someone who enjoys cooking as much as eating and enjoys eating out as much as I love eating in. When my team and me sat down to plan the magazine, the resounding feeling was that we wanted to have a balance of both. We wanted to create content that is inspirational and yet achievable. We were sure it wasn’t going to be a cooking magazine but it would allow the readers to build a connect between what they eat out in restaurants and what they can cook in their homes. Our culture still revolves around food primarily… feeding people is our best way of showing we care and we wanted our readers to do that with more know how now than ever before.

In a time like this where the industry insiders don’t really take you seriously unless your plating micro-green with those food tweezers and dusting with powders of dehydrated vegetables or ash even ! – I must point out that most of us are still looking for food after eating even a seven / twelve course meal of inventions on your plate and the majority of the people in our country don’t have the palate or appreciation for this kind of dining. At Food & Wine India we try and reinforce the idea that cooking what you like, cooking food that is just purely comforting can never go out of style. Here we celebrate the best of professional chefs inspiring home cooks, as well as the home cooks turning into professionals – even if the Michelin Guide might never celebrate them!! But again who said the guide was the benchmark of drool worthy food!? The idea is to celebrate the diversity of tastes. It reinstates my sentiment that you don’t have to speak of the most unique/ expensive/ trending things in the industry to be admired for what you – you simply have to stick to the basics of what you are brilliant at.