Chef Mahendra Thulung is all set to conduct a highly sought-after master class at the Blend Bazaar, a renowned culinary event that showcases the finest talents in the industry. At this masterclass, Chef Thulung shared his expertise, demonstrating his signature cooking style and offering valuable insights into his creative process. Known for his fusion of diverse flavors and his mastery of Himalayan cuisine, Chef Thulung’s session was a truly enlightening and inspiring experience for all aspiring chefs and food enthusiasts present.
In addition to his master class, Chef Thulung is the genius behind Bao Bangalore, a restaurant that has taken the dining scene by storm. Located in the vibrant city of Bangalore, Bao offers a unique dining experience that blends Indian, Chinese, and Southeast Asian flavors. The restaurant has gained a loyal following for its delicious and visually stunning dishes, all prepared with the utmost precision and attention to detail. In this interview, I have the opportunity to delve into the mind of Chef Mahendra Thulung. From his innovative approach to culinary artistry to his passion for experimenting with flavors, this interview promises to offer a glimpse into the remarkable world of one of the industry’s most celebrated chefs.
- Can you tell us about your experience in serving Himalayan cuisine to the Bangalore crowd? How have you adapted traditional Himalayan recipes to suit local tastes?
Initially, I experienced nervousness regarding the acceptance of my culinary offerings by the citizens of Bangalore. This thought came up after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 when I first started holding delivery pop-up events. When I did my first pop-up orders, I got a huge
response, which made me realize that this type of food had a lot of promise for success. After that, I worked on improving my method for two years by trying new things and learning from my mistakes. After much thought, I decided to open Bao Bangalore in September 2022.
However, the cuisine I was bringing had some fermentation techniques that I really had to work on. As a resident of India, we are not open to the practice of fermentation cooking, which is still regarded as stale food. At that point, I came to the conclusion that I would continue to use the same recipe, the only change which would be to omit the fermentation step; hence, I chose to use fresh ingredients rather than fermentation. I had to apply some French techniques in order to make the dish more elegant, despite the fact that the recipe was still rather primitive. What inspired you to open ‘Bao Bangalore’? How do you distinguish your restaurant from other establishments in the city?
I was in the seventh grade when I was first introduced to bao, and ever since then, it has been my favorite food. However, I never dreamed that one day I would be selling the food that was my favorite when I was a child. However, as time went on, I realized why not introduce it like I got introduced to bao: as a street food. But I needed to do something new, so when the gourmet came between us, I made the executive decision to serve gourmet bao.
- As a chef, what strategies do you use to create a menu that is both authentic to Himalayan cuisine and appealing to the big city crowd? How do you strike a balance between tradition and innovation in your dishes?
We have devised the idea of offering food from the Himalayan region in the style of modern gourmet street food. This idea is one of a kind in its category, and it distinguishes us from the competition with the regional tastes and comfort food that we serve. Additionally, it contributes to the process of educating people about the cuisine of the Himalayan region, which is often misunderstood. The first step in my plan was to make absolutely certain that people of all ages would enjoy eating this dish. That moment when I was confronted with the truth, I knew I had to give my absolute best. I was quite confident about what I needed to accomplish after hosting lots of pop-up events with people of all ages, so I decided to take the notion of a burger and make it into an Asian version that people of all ages would like eating. But the only challenge was that we had to do everything by hand in-house because we do not have a big production or any manufacturing equipment. After that, we made the decision to set a goal for myself of one year as an experiment so that we may focus on working on the next outlet for our business.
Therefore, according to the findings of the one-year study, consumers of all ages prefer our product. which reassured us that we are capable of pursuing other opportunities.
- Your upcoming masterclass at Blend Bazaar is an exciting opportunity for people to learn about Himalayan cuisine. What can participants expect from your class, and what skills or techniques will they acquire?
You will have the opportunity to learn, by participating in the masterclass in The Blend Bazaar, how you may produce some fine dining MasterChef-worthy skills with less dependence on unusual items by making use of basic grocery and vegetables that are easily accessible in any home. You will be able to learn these techniques by using basic groceries and vegetables are easily accessible in any home.
By Anirban Dasgupta