He’s cussed. If a dish he has created doesn’t work along with his patrons, Kelvin Cheung would reasonably take it off the menu than tweak it. As an illustration, whereas designing the menu for the brand new Bandra resto-bar, One Avenue Over, the place he’s heading the kitchen, Cheung needed to create one thing with corn and prawns, one thing “very southern American”. The Canadian-Chinese language chef, who grew to become fashionable on the Mumbai eating scene for creating edgy variations of staple dishes at Colaba’s Ellipsis, got here up with an concept. He sauteed cornbread crumble with lemongrass. “It didn’t translate to prospects’ tastes. I cherished it and I’ll apply it to the menu, however not right here,” says the 36-year-old.
Like with any rule, there are exceptions to this one, too — his father. “I cook dinner for him, however not my fashion. He desires his meals his manner. He doesn’t like herbs or spices. So if I exploit these when cooking for him, I’ve to masks them,” says Cheung, who idolises his restaurateur father. “He has a fairly superb story,” says the chef.
Outdated man Cheung moved to New York from Hong Kong on the age of 18, with $20 in his pocket. He began as a server in a restaurant in Chinatown, working his manner up, whereas additionally learning enterprise. “Counted among the many higher echelons of restaurateurs who serve Hong Kong Cantonese, as we speak, he owns eight eating places and is about to open one other,” says the chef, who had returned dwelling after his almost four-year stint at Ellipsis ended final yr. It is usually on the household institution that he first obtained acquainted with the kitchen on the age of 12, beginning with washing the dishes.
From his father, Cheung inherits stubbornness. He realised early on that he isn’t reduce for accommodations. “My fashion doesn’t go well with the setting, which is extra structured and is determined by numbers. Fairly often, I’d get referred to as by the HR for yelling or having an perspective,” he says.
Cheung prefers to get up mornings to personally buy recent produce from the market, brainstorm and do what he does greatest — experiment. Whereas he doesn’t like to adapt to a style of meals, Cheung believes each menu ought to comply with a philosophy “else it may be in every single place”. At One Avenue Over, the compact menu includes small plates, mains and all of three desserts. Whereas every dish appears acquainted, Cheung’s model of innovation is clear when one tastes them. Take as an illustration, the Kung pao brocolli with peanuts, chillies and hoisin sauce, or the fried rooster he serves with waffle, maple syrup, honey and truffle oil. There’s a distinct Asian contact to the dishes, maybe for his collaboration with chef Boo Kwang Kim, who has moved from Chicago to Mumbai for this enterprise.
The menu, Cheung provides, is in tandem with the philosophy of the restaurant. One Avenue Over, which is his collaboration with Aalia Hospitality, is centred on the bar. “We wish it to be a spot the place working professionals will hang around a few instances per week,” he says, explaining that the place is in contrast to some other within the neighbourhood, which principally caters to school college students and goals for numbers. The menu, thus, steers away from the bar staples, corresponding to nachos, hummus and fries. As a substitute, it gives inexperienced beans or cauliflower, served with dressings corresponding to cashew hummus or soy garlic dressing — “wholesome dishes one gained’t thoughts having a couple of instances per week”.
Whereas Cheung has established himself as a chef in each Indian and worldwide culinary scene and is charting an impartial path, success to him might be his father’s approval. “I hear he approves of what I’ve achieved however he gained’t ever say it to me. He’s an old style Chinese language man and our relationship is sort of awkward — we’ve got hugged all of thrice in our total life,” says Cheung, “Our telephone conversations final two minutes, the place he’ll ask me how I’m, why I’m not working, say he’s busy and hold up.”
Naturally, for Cheung, his father stays the benchmark. “Not 9, however I’d be pleased to personal one restaurant. A small place — could also be smaller than One Avenue Over, the place I make and serve meals the sort I wish to, the sort I like,” he says.