Michelin-Star Chef Nicolas Durif Spills the Beans About His First Time in India

Pullman Aerocity and All Things Nice hosted a modern French cuisine dinner by Chef Nicolas Durif and Chef Neeraj Tyagi
From right to left Chef Nicholas Durif, Chef Neeraj Tyagi with Durif's wife
From right to left Chef Nicholas Durif, Chef Neeraj Tyagi with Durif's wife

Coming from an unadventurous South Indian family, my experience of six-course meals is limited, to say the least. So, when I found myself at a table in a gorgeous ballroom with a poached oyster dish prepared by Michelin star chef Nicolas Durif before me, I was ecstatic to plunge into unknown waters. The dinner at Pullman Aerocity in association with All Things Nice served modern French cuisine prepared by Chef Durif and Chef Neeraj Tyagi (Pullman). Each course was accompanied by choice wines paired by certified sommelier and founder of All Things Nice, Nikhil Agarwal.

While my palate is used to the masala and oil of desi cuisine, the change in flavour was welcome. The duck breast with absinthe mustard, aubergines, and a reduction of balsamic vinegar, especially, was quite delicious. The star of the show, however, was the dessert. The chocolate mousse, mango carpaccio and candied oranges left me with the uncouth desire to lick my plate clean.

I would particularly like to acknowledge the kind nature of our server Angom, who perpetually donned a smile. The service was impeccable, or maybe I thought so because he was the one pouring our wines.

Overall, the night was a fun time, full of cheer and delicious bites and I&rsquom glad I was a part of it for I might have not had another chance. The chef was on a two-city tour in India, visiting Bangalore and New Delhi. This was his first time in the country, hence he seemed to have some trouble in the kitchen. &ldquoIt was my first time in India and specifically for this kind of dinner. I had to adapt to the lack of products and different equipment, as well as the language barrier. There is also a different way of working in India that we were not familiar with. But the people are so welcoming and friendly that it makes it easy to adapt to the circumstances. This remains a unique experience for me and an incredible human adventure&rdquo, he said.

His collaboration with Delhi&rsquos star chef Neeraj Tyagi also seemed smooth-sailing, and he added that the latter is very professional with a rather welcoming team.

While I am new to modern French cuisine, my knowledge of it is not limited to the menu at the dinner. However, this isn&rsquot the case with everyone. Like any other cuisine or culture, French food is also subject to misconceptions and stereotypes. The chef himself pointed out a few. &ldquoI think that French cuisine can come across as being too rich or too fatty. This is actually not the case, and even if we have ancestral cooking traditions, we manage to modernise them to make them more glamorous&rdquo. The chef also had to include vegetarian dishes, something not very common in France. He admitted that it took him some time.

All hurdles apart, the chef&rsquos out-of-kitchen adventure in India has been quite rewarding, he says. &ldquoIt has been a beautiful professional experience, from a human and culinary point of view. I experienced unique exchanges with simple and generous people. Furthermore, I have been warmly welcomed everywhere I have been&rdquo. With the chef&rsquos positive experience and a new cuisine checked off my bucket list, I think it&rsquos safe to call the night a win-win.

Modern French Cuisine dinner was held at Pullman New Delhi Aerocity on March 4, 2020. All Things Nice is a luxury, wine and spirits consulting & marketing agency.

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