It would not be wrong at all to call 41-year-old Jakarta-born Teuku Syafrulsyah a global chef. After all, the current Executive Chef at the 201-room Park Hyatt Chennai, has worked in several countries — Indonesia, Dubai, Ukraine, Egypt, Tajikistan and Tanzania, among others.
And he has a clear plan for the Park Hyatt’s popular 240-cover Flying Elephant multi-cuisine restaurant.
“My plan is to have a new menu by shrinking its size and retaining the fast-moving items. There are now around 100 items on the menu card and the number will be reduced to 60,” Teuku, who has been with the Hyatt group for the past two decades without shifting loyalties, told IANS.
To a query as to the value he brings to the property, he said: “I can cook Middle Eastern, Russian, Western and other cuisines. Chennai loves Asian cuisine. I can cater to different palates.”
Married to Marina, a Ukranian chef, Teuku said that she could not take up a job in India due to visa restrictions.
It was then time for the divine wild mushroom soup to arrive at the table. The thick soup, made with imported mushrooms was so delicious that one was tempted to ask for a second bowl.
Requested to whip up an Indonesian speciality, Teuku delivered a spicy and tasty stir-fried prawn dish with curry leaves. The chicken satay with chilli sauce and peanut sauce was also good.
It was followed by mahi aanarkali tikka — fish tikka, pomegranate seeds, chilli, garlic paste and mustard oil — that fish lovers will relish.
For the main course, the obvious choice was the nasi goreng — fried rice with shallots, chicken, seafood and a fried egg on top. “It is still argued whether nasi goreng is an Indonesian or a Malaysian dish,” Teuku said.
However, there was no argument about the taste of the nasi goreng that was served. The rice was light and infused with flavours that went well with the stir-fried prawn.
“The first thing Teuku did here was to change the nasi goreng’s recipe to make it light and flavourful,” Vamsi Krishna, Head Chef at the Flying Elephant, told IANS, adding that he also changed the recipe for pizza which was a big hit with the guests, as was evident at a neighbouring table.
A little girl was busy munching her pizza (pesto, asparagus, spinach, goat’s cheese) and her mother savoured saffron parathas with beetroot, green apple galouti and cream cheese stuffing. They also opted for seekh kebab and a pasta (mushroom and ricotto cheese agnolotti, asparagus, truffle cream, poppy seeds).
The tasty dishes induced pester power — the girl kept asking her mother whether they would be back the next day.
Be that as it may, it was time for the dessert. For chocolate lovers there was the chocolate lava, and for the rest, faluda.
Where: Park Hyatt Chennai, Near Raj Bhavan
Timings: 7 p.m. – 11.30 p.m.
Price (average for two): Around Rs 4,500
(The writer’s visit was at the invitation of Park Hyatt Chennai. Venkatachari Jagannathan can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)