The award-winning head chef at entouraj, Sudha Saha reveals his food heaven (and hell) and how an encounter with snake meat wasn’t what he was expecting at all!
Tell us about your cooking
My cooking is both modern and progressive which stems from my passion of authentic flavour. It offers a modern approach to traditional cooking and breaks down the conventional boundaries. It’s important for me to use seasonal and local produce in my cooking, as well as inspire and educate people about the finer side of Indian cuisine. For me, it’s all about being the master of my own domain, pursuing my passion and using my creative skills every day. I enjoy collaborating with farmers to find the best and most inspiring ingredients and, most importantly, I relish working with a stellar team that ensures that customers always leave happy and full.
How did you become a chef?
My passion for cooking started when I used to watch my grandmother cooking in the kitchen. She was an exceptional cook. I then went on to complete a degree in Catering Technology & Applied Nutrition in the Institute of Hotel Management and subsequently trained in Taj and Ambassador Group of hotels, which is where I honed my skills. When I came to the UK, I continued to refine my skills and trained in a Michelin-starred French restaurant.
What do you eat when at home?
Cooking at a high-end restaurant means you are dealing with a lot of good food and sometimes I almost have to force myself to eat because the hunger just isn’t there! At home I am a very simple eater, my go-to is usually a freshly made salad with seafood.
Who’s the best chef in the world and why? And who’s the best in Brum?
There is a long list of chefs who have left their legacy to follow, it’s all about what they have bought to the food trade and encouraging the new generation of chefs. With this in mind, I am inspired by the late, great Joel Robuchon and Alain Ducasse, Ferran Adria and Thomas Keller. In Birmingham it would be unfair to choose just one, but with that being said the food scene in the city has changed dramatically in the last few years with the highest number of Michelin star restaurants outside London, which is a remarkable achievement. My top list includes Andreas Antona and Luke Tipping at Simpsons, Glynn Purnell, Adam Stokes, Brad Carter and David Colcombe.
Is the customer always right?
From a chef’s point of view not always, however from a business point of view, yes. We need to be flexible in order to run a successful business and understanding a customer’s needs and priorities comes hand-in-hand with that.
Share a cooking tip
Always choose the right ingredients. Ensure you use the right quantities and make sure you follow the sequence of cooking – and never cut corners!
What was your favourite food as a kid?
Noodles with sweet and sour sauce.
Food heaven and food hell?
I love fish! Spiced pan-fried sea bass with coconut milk and tamarind reduction, finished with lemon rice – that’s one of my favourites! My hell is black pudding.
What’s the most unusual thing you’ve eaten?
Snake meat, which was an unbelievable experience because it tasted so delicate.
If you weren’t a chef, what would you be?
I was always very academic growing up and as I was raised in an Asian family, I was more inclined to study medicine. However, I insisted I become a food doctor.
What do you recommend from this evening’s menu?
Spiced pan-fried sea bass, spiced potato and spinach gateaux, topped with moilee sauce.