With the growing popularity of Indian cuisine worldwide, Chef Patrick Lawrence Chapman, talks about his role in showcasing it globally and the intricacies of the cuisine By Archana Sharma
Believing in creating awareness of the intricacies of the Indian cuisine globally, Chef Patrick Lawrence Chapman, an English food writer and broadcaster known for founding the ‘Curry Club’ has been promoting it all over the globe for over 30 years now. Chef Chapman was born at a time when Britain was facing the wrath of the World War II, and his grandmother kept up the Indian tradition through cooking, as six generations of their family had lived in India. And as a result of this influence, he started dabbling in the Indian culinary art form from a young age. Beginning his professional career at a time when few Indian restaurants were to be seen in London, Chef Chapman feels that now one can find almost every Indian regional varietal cuisine in the streets of London with over nine thousand restaurants presently.
Playing the part
Though his passion for Indian cuisine was evident, the next step for Chef Chapman was to create awareness among his fellow British friends that there was more to Indian cuisine than ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’, which according to him is the Britishers’ favourite dish. “People used to come up to me and ask about the various spices, what kind to use and where to find them, etc. They wanted me to tutor them about the secrets of cooking with Indian spices,” he opines.
In an effort to create more awareness about Indian cuisine, Chef Chapman founded the ‘Curry Club’, for people of all origins, who were interested in understanding its subtleties. Having followed the four P’s – Principles, Product, Publication and Promotions – Chef Chapman says, “The main part of this has been the gourmet trips to restaurants in Britain and the biggest part being the trips to India. So far I have carried out over 16 trips to India which included going to restaurants, meeting chefs, tasting different cuisines.”
Chef Chapman has also acted as a consultant to major supermarkets in the world wherein he advised them about their new product lines and the best ways to develop them. At the same time he has been a guest chef at various leading Indian hotels and hospitality institutes across the world – Hilton, Taj Hotels – India, Club Med, Le Cordon Bleu London. Moreover, he was also a regular guest chef on Queen Elizabeth 2, one of the leading luxury cruise liners, for over 12 years. Due to his intricate understanding of the nuances of spices, he has also been called upon by the Government of Kerala, to address the people about the importance and significance of various spices.
Chef Chapman has written 36 culinary books wherein most of his books concentrate on curries, while others feature recipes from China, Thailand, the Middle East and Americas. Due to his extensive travels throughout Australia, Europe, USA, South Africa, his cooking depicts a unique balance and sensitivity, thereby helping his profession as a consultant to a number of companies, including G Costa’s Blue Dragon range of Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean and Tabasco products. He has been frequently showcasing and demonstrating the intricacies that goes into making curries and holds regular curry cooking courses to teach Indian cuisine.
Emphasising on the perfection of Indian cuisine, Chef Chapman feels, “Though food innovation is a good thing but the novel cuisine and fusion dishes that are created through the desire to experiment aren’t able to project the various flavours, especially since they lack the original ingredients. I believe that the Indian cuisine has already achieved perfection.”
Explaining the addictive nature of Indian cuisine, Chef Chapman says, “I am unable to go without Indian food for more than seven to 10 days. People living in India might not be able to understand this since they eat it regularly but the flavours and spices ensure more craving for the same kind of spices, something which I have observed amongst the foreign tourists that I have brought here over the years, as they get really passionate about Indian food.” Recently, he was a part of Barbeque Nation, an India casual dining restaurant chain, wherein he has offered 14 marinade recipes to be added to their all time menu. He also hosted a special cook out show on days that he was behind the counter ‘Pat Chapman Grills The World’, bringing to Indian barbeque lovers a lifetime of his work.
Ambassador of Indian food
Chef Chapman has been named, ‘The Ambassador of Indian Food’ by Derek Cooper, the ‘Curry Leader’ by Fay Maschler and ‘A Missionary seeking Converts to Curry’ by Loyd Grossman, renowned food reviewers in Britain. It is this dedication to the cuisine which has earned him the title of Britain’s ‘Curry King.’
Believing in always moving forward, Chef Chapman states, “Being a chef is a wonderful occupation, but maintaining a passion and love for food is essential. A few big chains have started trends wherein the quality of the product has deteriorated over the years and the same would happen to individual chefs if they lose the passion.”