Chef Yogesh Upadhyay of FLOUR Restaurant in Plaza Damansara shares with The Yum List some insight into what goes into making Indian food.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I think I was always a restaurateur. My father has been running successful restaurants in Mumbai, India since 1966. I learnt the art of using spices from him and did my hotel management training eventually. But, as life is always changing, so did mine. I left the kitchen and got into corporate life. The fact is though, I could never walk away. I kept going back to cooking in some way or the other and finally quit corporate life and opened my own restaurant in Kuala Lumpur after a lot of pushing from my wife, Natasha who is a Malaysian.
Share with us an interesting story from behind the scenes.
Working in FLOUR’s kitchen is a high-pressure job, which requires a complete focus. Once, I got butter chicken made by one chef and the colour was very red. I tasted it and asked who made it? Chef replied, myself chef! I asked him did you speak with your wife today in India? He said, “Yes chef.” I said, “Ok.” He asked why did I ask? I said, “My assumption is that the discussion with your wife didn’t go well. He said, “Correct. How did you know?!?!” I showed him the butter chicken. I said. “It’s red! Your anger is reflecting in the butter chicken! The entire kitchen burst out laughing….
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
There is no worst part!! It’s amazing to discuss Indian food with guests. I have come to realise that people really don’t know much about Indian food. They often think it’s only about curries. I feel nice when I explain origins, influences on the cuisine and how we recreate or create some curries and other Indian dishes at FLOUR. There is so much to share. In the kitchen, most of my time now is in creating new things with spices.
What’s your favourite meal/ drink?
Simple food! I love having local Malaysian’s butter kaya toast, half boiled eggs with the Chinese Malaysian creation tea called chum (mix of coffee and tea).
The perfect day off would be…
Doing nothing and relaxing as life as an entrepreneur and executive chef at the same time means no life at all.
A day in the life of a chef is…
… very busy. Wake up early, check the schedule for the day, reach the restaurant and give directions to the kitchen, do final finishing to the dishes, talk to guests, food trials, attend meetings and this repeats daily.
What do you do for fun?
I cook! Yes, my fun time is experimenting with food. It’s really a sight when Balwant (sous chef) and I are experimenting in the kitchen.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about FLOUR?
Indian food is made from spices. Chillies do not contribute to the major part of the cuisine, it’s the spices. Chillies should complement but not dominate any dish.
What’s your favourite food and beverage pairing at FLOUR?
Kaleji (foie gras) with a glass of Champagne
What’s your view of the cafe scene in Kuala Lumpur?
In Kuala Lumpur, cafes are fantastic! I see a huge Australian influence.
What’s something you’d like guests to know about Indian food?
Indian food is by far the most difficult to prepare when started from scratch.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
FLOUR just launched its new menu on the first of February 2019. Coming up are a Biryani festival for Ramadan month, Game meat and dessert festival for Diwali and MAYBE a chef’s table in June for three days.