Restaurants that Farm
Imagine fresh produce, picked right off the plant and making it to your plate in a few hours! That is the simple concept of Farm to Fork, which has been quite the trend this year. To see this concept translate into a sustainable format for larger scale restaurants is quite the ask. The good news is that a few restaurants across the country have success stories to share!
The inaugural lunch of the recently concluded Tasting India Symposium- Farm to Table aptly began in the heart of the 4-acre Rajokri-based farm of The Roseate House in New Delhi. We had a khichda, topped off with ghee gajar made from baby carrots. The Dahi Baingan, Gobi Adrak Sabzi and a very refreshing beetroot and onion salad too, all harvested from the farm, paired very heartily with rotis made from a makeshift tandoor.
“Associating ourselves with the Farm to Fork concept will bring in diners and create excitement in curating the menu,” says Chef Nishant Choubey, Corporate Chef, The Roseate and Roseate House, New Delhi. “The produce doesn’t have to be shipped long distances, meaning lesser time on a truck and fewer greenhouse gases being released. Supply from our farm is maximum during winters. It consistently delivers seasonal crops and special menus are curated based on the produce harvested”, explains Chef Nishant.
Being able to curate such menus based on produce harvested opens up a world of possibilities for chefs and diners alike.
Fresh, local ingredients are used to create a seasonal menu with international flair at Masque, Mumbai, which works with Offerings Farm just outside of Pune.
“The farm itself is 10 acres, and the Masque polyhouse occupies 10,000 sq. ft.,” explains Aditi Dugar, Director, Masque. “Among the Masque classics that use farm produce is the Tomato Tart, a delicate rosemary crust filled with fresh basil pesto, burrata, and a variety of fresh tomatoes. Last season, we made a beautiful passion fruit sorbet served in the shell, and this season we have a passion fruit brûlée over a chocolate mousse”.
The Masque farm is entirely organic and bio-intensive. Crops are grown on raised beds which aren’t stepped or walked on, allowing for more growth within a smaller space. Natural pest control methods are used and the focus is more on feeding the soil and keeping it healthy.
Aditi admits that not all of their produce comes from their farm. “We also work with farmers across the country and our chefs go foraging for particular ingredients themselves a couple of times a year,” she says. “The produce that does come from the farm is consistent in its supply, given seasonal constraints”.
And in keeping with this line of meeting the needs of the restaurant, Chef Ajay Anand Culinary Director, Pluck, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity says that the 5000 sq. ft. farm within the hotel premises is very consistent in what it supplies. “For the summers, we plan in February and sow gourds, pumpkins and watermelons. In winters, I have cauliflower, coriander, mustard leaves, tomatoes, onions, and potatoes ready to be harvested. The vegetables we grow are seasonal but herbs like basil, lemongrass, thyme, oregano, mint etc. are seen through the year”, explains Chef Anand of his farm.
The menu of Pluck is based on seasonal availability. The result is a dynamic, frequently-changing menu. You may be served an amuse bouche of freshly plucked lettuce with some homemade dips. Or be offered The Tomato and Coriander Consommé with steamed greens, a signature soup made 100% from the produce of the farm.
With seasonality being an important focus of such farm to fork ventures, the one-acre Alibaug farm of The Table in Mumbai has been experimenting with different seeds and varietals of products since it began catering to the restaurant in 2012. “We started with microgreens which is used by the restaurant a lot,” explains Gauri Devidayal, Partner, The Table. “5 years on, we now grow beetroots, heirloom tomatoes, kale, spinach, lots of indigenous vegetables like kohlrabi. We are not yet at a point where we can supply the restaurant 100% though barring basil and spinach”.
Gauri says that the farm, which initially catered to the family needs, had to have a much more streamlined process in place to help it cater to the restaurant. Adrienne Thadani, Founder, Fresh & Local and an urban farming specialist was brought on board. “We have invested a lot in bringing the soil’s nutrition levels up and our produce is not chemically enhanced, or pesticide protected in any way,” says Gauri.
Thanks to initiatives like these, the farm to table movement is more than a passing fad and is here to stay.
Masque, Gala 3, Laxmi Woollen Mill, Shakti Mills Lane, Off Dr. E Moses Road, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400011; tel: +91 22 2499 1010
Pluck, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, Asset 2, Hospitality District, Aerocity, New Delhi; tel: +91 96431 00661
Roseate House, Asset 10, Hospitality District, Aerocity, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, Delhi 110037; tel: +91 11 7155 8800
The Table, Ground Floor, Kalapesi Trust Building, Opposite Dhanraj Mahal, Below Hotel Suba Palace, Apollo Bunder Marg, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400039; tel: +91 22 2282 5001
Tags : Aditi Dugar, Adrienne Thadani, Alibaug Farm, Chef Ajay Anand, Chef Nishant Choubey, Farm to Fork, Fresh Ingredients, Gauri Devidayal, Local Ingredients, Masque, Organic, Pluck, Pullman New Delhi Aerocity, Rajokri Farm, Restaurants That Farm, Ruth DSouza Prabhu, The Roseate House, The Table