Kochi: Thirty-eight-year-old Chef Anand George terms as “hugely successful” his 5,000 mile culinary journey from here to Cardiff in Wales. Not only does he run a hugely successfully eatery but also conducts cookery classes twice a month for four hours at a staggering 145 pounds (Rs.14,000/$210) per head, and has a six-month waiting list.
Right now, the Kerala-born Syrian Christian is here in his home town, finishing his book titled '5,000 mile journey - Cochin to Cardiff", for which he has taken a three week break from his hugely popular 'Purple Poppadom' 70-cover, fine-dining restaurant in Cardiff. It's a much-adored eatery, which he opened in 2007.
George, the head chef at his restaurant, said that after graduating in commerce from Kochi, his passion for food and its intricacies was constantly at the back of his mind. Coupled with this, his father's passion for food prompted him join a premier cartering school run by the Taj group in Aurangabad in Maharashtra.
"Since then I worked in leading hotels in the country as a chef before moving to Cardiff in 2005. I have settled down there and have been enjoying every moment of my job. I feel I am married to my profession and nothing else excites me more than experimenting with the world of food," said George, a two-time winner in 2008 and 2014 of the prestigious Tiffin Cup for the UK's Best Indian Cuisine awarded by the House of Commons.
He's now wrapping up his book after interacting with the locals to know more about their food and its influence on Kochi's glorious history.
Quite passionate about what he does, George said his "mission is to re-define Indian cuisine, explore new taste and experiences whilst respecting traditional spices and flavours in all their infinite variety".
About his restaurant, he said it serves mostly Indian food. He strongly believes that people eat first with their eyes and nose and finally with the tongue. Hence, every aspect is taken care of when he enters the kitchen.
Apart from the a la carte menu, George also offers a six-course tasters' spread "which is a miniature version of the dishes I serve. Through this, I give the opportunity to my clients to taste before they decide what they want, so they precisely know what they want to have," the chef said.
His most popular dishes include tiffin sea bass, a complete seafood meal with a sauce of raw mango, ginger, coconut milk and chilly powder, with mashed potatoes and curry leaves served with a beetroot relish that is priced at 16 pounds (Rs.1,550/$23).
Lamb shank, another popular delicacy, is priced at 19 pounds and is an updated version of a Mughlai dish. Its preparations start the previous day and it goes into the clay tandoor oven just before it's served.
"It's served with a pumpkin mash, a mixed salad and mint chutney," said George, who added that he has an arrangement with the local community from whom he sources all his requirements for the restaurant.
And apart from these mouth-watering dishes, which he prepares with his team of five other Indian chefs, he conducts a cookery class twice a month for four hours, for which he charges 145 pounds per person.
"I have six seats and it's booked six months in advance. I teach three dishes. I am enjoying my profession like anything," said George, adding that his book will also carry 58 mouth-watering recipes.