India’s first Michelin-starred chef Atul Kochhar can’t wait to face off with his protégé Amrish Sood next week — but it’s all in the spirit of friendly competition.
Kochhar, 47, who owns the Rang Mahal restaurant at Dubai’s JW Marriott, and the eatery’s chef de cuisine, Sood, will come together for a display of prodigious skill while serving up a five-course Indian menu.
For one night only, on Monday, November 28, guests at the chefs’ table will enjoy a chance to chat with the two masters, who will each present one dish per course. At the end, a winner will be chosen based on the diners’ votes.
“Amrish and I have committed to a battle of the chefs,” says Kochhar. “The best part is, the guests get to vote for the winner at the end! We are in love with both cooking and healthy competition, so it is definitely going to be exciting — we hope to bring moments of madness, excellence and humour to the evening.”
Kochchar won’t reveal what is on the menu, but hints that the food will be a combination of “Rang Mahal favourites and something new to mix it up”.
“We will be cooking vegetarian, seafood, poultry and meat dishes, plus desserts,” says the two Michelin-star chef, who earned his first star in 2001 while working as head chef Tamarind, the feted London restaurant. His second star was awarded in 2007 to the current jewel in Kochhar’s crown — his restaurant Benares, in Mayfair, London.
Between running eight eateries all over the world — including one on a cruise liner — the celebrity chef has just finished filming for the television series MasterChef India. His sixth book, 30 Minute Curries, is due to be published next year, and a new restaurant is also in the works.
Kochhar, who marked Rang Mahal’s third anniversary last year, is a frequent visitor to the UAE, and hopes the emirate won’t have too long a wait for a place in the Michelin Guide.
“I believe [Dubai’s fine-dining scene] is moving in the right direction,” he says. “Top spots for Michelin-starred cuisine tend to be identified as London and New York, but Dubai is making huge strides each year.”