Conversations with IWBS – Radhika Khandelwal

Chef Radhika Khandelwal, Fig and Maple, New Delhi

Chef Radhika started her career in Melbourne. After coming back to Delhi she started Ivy & Bean, where they (she and her partner) did Modern Australian food. But back in Melbourne the emphasis on local and seasonal produce really resonated with her and inspired her to open Fig & Maple

Here is her journey in her own words.
“I’m not going to say it has been easy. You meet all sorts of people and guests who will come with the weirdest requests. I’ve worked with a broken foot multiple times and then there are days you’re in the kitchen for 16 hours straight. It’s mad, it’s exhausting but at the end of the day, when you see people loving what you’ve created, you realise that’s it’s totally worth it.”

How to tell off a customer who orders a three-course meal 15 minutes before closing?

Signature dish offered by Fig & Maple

I’d respectfully tell them that the last orders have already been taken. If they insist or had to drive a long way to eat, I’d suggest some dishes that are available and can be prepared in a jiffy.

What is the one thing (tool, spice, ingredient) you could not live without?
Just one?

I can’t live without my knife, my Shun is very dear to me and please don’t make me pick just one ingredient. I really can’t!

What is your secret sauce?  / What behind-the-scenes secret can you tell us about your kitchen?

We have this little practice of naming a dish after the chef who comes up with it. Like we have a Tiger Chicken, it’s named after my Sous-Chef Sheru which literally means tiger!

What is your one guilty food pleasure that other chefs might frown upon?

There could be many but if I had to point one, I snack on lotus chips from my own kitchen 🤭 

If you could invite any three people, dead or alive, for dinner, who would they be and why?  

Chef Dominique Crenn

I’d invite Chef Dominique Crenn and myself. I don’t need a third person because I look upto her and I think I’d want to have a dinner with her all by myself to fangirl and to bounce off some ideas. 

What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?

Infused gin from my apothecary and tonic.

What is your advice to young professionals seeking a career in this field?

Work hard. There are no short cuts here and you can’t run away. If you work hard it shows, if you don’t and are being lazy, trust me that shows too. 

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