New Delhi, Feb 25 : He was born and trained in Austria, spent time in Switzerland where he developed a likeness for Italian cuisine, travelled the world in a cruise liner and eventually began a 25-year-romance with India that continues to this day.
For Chef Hermann Grossbichler, the learning never ends and each day is a new beginning.
"For me every day is a new beginning.
I am always excited to wait for what's to come, and to learn new skills. I believe that without hard work, there is no success. My goal is to leave my mark wherever I go and the best way to do this to make sure that the people you're serving food to have a memorable experience.
I strive to be the best I can be. The learning never ends," Grossbichler told IANS.
That's the spirit that guided him as he launched the iconic La Piazza at Delhi's Hyatt Regency 25 years ago to introduce the city to authentic Italian cuisine for the first time.
It's been an exciting journey over the past quarter of a century.
"It has never been difficult to cater to the Indian taste buds since every culture is indirectly related.
It's all about having a long-term vision and offering the right experience to your customers.
"Indians love to eat different types of food every time they go out and with Italian being one of the most popular cuisines, it is always in demand.
Indians are also extremely knowledgable and well-informed about Italian cuisine which is why the authentic Italian menu has done so well wherever we have introduced it," Grossbichler said.
Noting that there are similarities between Indian and Italian cuisines as the two countries are quite similar to each other in terms of their culture and history, Grossbichler said that in both cuisines, "spices and carbs have a really important role to play".
"They may be cooked in different ways but are an essential part of the dish.
Also, chillies are very important in both the cuisines. The Italian food people eat in India is usually adjusted to suit people's tastes. It is amalgamated with Indian masalas to make it interesting. A typical Indian menu can be quite overwhelming with all its spices and masalas but it is not difficult to understand the basics of Italian cuisine," the Chef added.
At the same time, there haven't been any extreme adaptations "as the goal is to serve authentic Italian cuisine and that is what people love", he pointed out.
Grossbichler is currently Executive Chef at the Grand Hyatt Kochi.
Since the city is heavy on seafood, which doesn't find too much of a place in Italian cuisine, how has he adapted?
"Everywhere I have been, I have seen people like to experiment with their food.
Everyone has their preferences and dishes that they love but what they look for is variety and different types of food to excite their taste buds.
In Kochi, Italian cuisine is a big hit for destination weddings.
"We also do a lot of European food and grills using local ingredients to adapt to people's tastes.
A good chef must understand how flavour and textures come together to make a great dish and alter dishes to adapt to people's preference," the chef explained.
(Vishnu Makhijani can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)