Counted among the top chefs in the UK, chef Claude Bosi, who held two Michelin stars at his restaurant Hibiscus in London, and won two stars for his recently-opened Bibendum in London, is a master of giving creative flourishes to classic French cooking. Presenting his food in the national capital for a month at the Indian Accent, where the upper level is being used for the pop-up, chef Bosi can’t stop talking about the wonders of Indian ingredients, and also his experience with the Michelin stars. Edited excerpts:
So what brings you here?
I had heard a lot about India, but had never been here. I love Indian food, but didn’t know anything about the cooking techniques. So when Rohit Khattar (owner of Indian Accent) invited me, I jumped at the chance.
What you are serving is not classic French food. There is a wonderful adaptation of Indian ingredients like morels, fresh chickpeas and curry powder in the dishes. What do you think of cooking in India?
You have wonderful produce here. I went to the local markets and saw the fresh produce for myself. The fresh chickpeas were something new for me, so I used them in my food. The dairy here is very good, the milk, the cream… I am not using any French butter, but a local butter that they have here. And it all tastes wonderful. Everything that I am using here is locally sourced. The meat, the vegetables, the spices, even the butter… I wish we had similar produce in Europe.
Considering that French food has not really been such a hit with the Indian palate, what sort of response are you expecting here?
What I cook is not the traditional recipes, but lighter versions of dishes that are not very heavy. That’s what I am doing here. It has been well received in London and I am cooking with the same style here. I hope Indian diners will also appreciate the cooking. It’s too soon to tell, though what I have done here has been well received. Some countries like French food more than others. The UK is one of them.
What makes a restaurant worthy of a Michelin star?
I really can’t say, as no one knows what you have to do to win a star. The Michelin inspectors visit you five or six times, so you have to be consistently good. I guess that is the key. Everything has to be top-class every time, everyday. If you are open seven days, you have to be good all seven days. Be it 20 covers or 150 covers, you have to deliver the same experience. Even if you do the dishes hundreds of times, they have to be consistently good all times.
What sort of pressure do you feel after the two stars? Chefs have closed down restaurants or wanted to give back the stars after winning because they can’t handle the pressure. How do you handle it?
I don’t think about it. I did not open my restaurants with the aim of achieving stars. Moreover, my primary concern is not the Michelin stars, but to keep my restaurant full, and for that I have to be on my toes all the time. Anyone thinking ‘can we do it, can we maintain it’, is the hardest part. But we don’t think that and so don’t feel the pressure. I just try and be as consistent as possible.
Being good is a norm for you?
You have to be good in any business. If you are a doctor, you have to be good every time you open a person’s heart. Similarly, if you care, and want to do your job well, you will do it every time.
French cooking is all about butter. What do you say, especially in these health-conscious times we live in?
I love butter. There are some chefs who use other ingredients to replace butter and still get that velvety texture, but I think it’s not the same. I have never replaced butter with anything else. And, butter is good for you!
The pop-up is on till January 31