Gourmet specials: Ginee Shah, founder of The Evolved Palate, on new flavours, festival foods and the art of cooking
Mumbai-based Ginee Shah is all set for the holidays. The home chef, who set up her company, The Evolved Palate, five years ago, has a special festive menu planned for her customers this year. She is also offering gift hampers, unique sweet jars, and delicious mithais for the occasion.
Ever since Ginee launched her company in March 2015, she has been known for her international dishes that are customised to the tastes of her clientele. From gnocchi to guacamole, blue rice sushi to truffles, this home chef has perfected the art of creating a gourmet meal.
Her most loved dishes are Pan Asian, Lebanese, Italian, and Mexican. She says her customers especially enjoy her hummus sandwiches, cheese and dip platters, assorted sushi and burrito bowls. Her marquee dishes have been served at leading Bollywood events and to children at renowned schools for special occasions.
An avid traveller, Ginee has journeyed to Italy, Mexico, and Japan in order to master the creation of some of her signature dishes.
Ginee aims to bridge the gap between home-cooked, healthy yet gourmet food and its accessibility. In an interview with YSWeekender, Ginee talks about her culinary plans for the festival and offers some tips for home chefs.
Edited excerpts from her interview
YSWeekender (YSW): As the festivals approach, do you have plans to make special foods and sweets?
Ginee Shah (GS): As India’s (and my) favourite festival Diwali is around the corner, I plan to make our signature mithais like The Molten Mohanthal, Rose Thandai, and Ras Malai on special demand for my clients. I am also curating gift hampers that will include yummy continental dips, crackers, and one Indian sweet.
This year, there are a lot of orders for my signature Rabri Rasgulla Strawberry Jars and many of my clients have pre-ordered cheese platters as appetisers for their Diwali gatherings.
YSW: Can you tell us about the Evolved Palate?
GS: My company, The Evolved Palate, is a catering business that offers authentic vegetarian cuisine. I procure all my essentials like vegetables, truffle oil, grains, etc., from my trusted vendors in the market. Barring these, I make everything else in my kitchen. It has been an immensely gratifying journey for me as a chef and for my brand too.
Though I offer Indian, Mexican, Lebanese, Pan Asian, and Italian food, my signature dishes are mainly Japanese.
YSW: How did you become a home chef and how did you make your business successful?
GS: Becoming a chef was never on my mind. I had 20 years of experience in the kitchen with different cuisines before becoming a full-time chef. It was my passion for creating interesting cuisine that led me to taking up cooking professionally. I feel my whole purpose in life is to cook with vitamin L (love) and garnish it with gratitude. My USP is serving healthy gourmet food and ensuring maximum hygiene.
YSW: How do you bridge the gap between healthy and gourmet food?
GS: When I started my venture, I would cook regular food, but later when I thought it over, I realised there are many fancy restaurants with skilled chefs making the most scrumptious cuisines and fast foods in Mumbai. But gourmet cuisine is not available at affordable rates. So that’s when I decided to bridge that gap and offer a home-cooked, 100 percent vegetarian, safe, hygienic, fresh, and gourmet experience to my clients.
YSW: What are some of your top dishes and what makes them special?
Some of my top and most loved dishes are Tofu Carpaccio, Assorted sushi, Japanese Taco, Burrito cups, Falafel, Black rice, Thai curry, Khao Suey, and many more.
YSW: What is special about your food?
GS: I cook every single dish by myself to ensure they are freshly prepared with standard tastes and flavours. As a follower of Jainism, I keep the principles of Jainism in mind and incorporate them into my kitchen. Nothing is chopped or cooked overnight in my kitchen.
Even now, during the pandemic, my clients are ordering from The Evolved Palate because they know how hygiene is top priority for me. I also offer pre-plated, and ready to serve on the table foods with basic heating instructions, and these are very popular too.
YSW: At a time when hotel food is easily available due to food delivery platforms, how did you manage to run your business?
GS: Skilfully made, home-cooked food prepared with extra care, hygiene, and served in generous quantity at affordable rates has definitely made my brand special and set it apart from other restaurants.
YSW: How do manage to procure most of the ingredients you need from your own kitchen?
GS: I have a herb garden where I grow exquisite herbs and spices. I bake and make my own sauces, purees, gravies, and all the base ingredients that are used in desserts from scratch in my kitchen.
YSW: How has the palate of the Indian consumer changed? How do you cater to these changes?
GS: The palate of every individual is changing and evolving rapidly. As most people are travelling the world now, the food of most countries has become an integral part of our lives. People are now willing to experiment with different cuisines, and with the advent of multi-cuisine restaurants and home chefs in our country, they want to try these flavours in the comfort of their own homes.
As a chef, I am constantly reinventing myself, learning and introducing new recipes to ensure I am offering something new all the time to my clients
YSW: What are the foods that are most in-demand now?
GS: Japanese, Korean, Greek, Lebanese, and Mexican cuisines are in great demand. However, I also have a set of fixed clients who love their Indian and Gujarati cuisine. Additionally, there is an increasing demand for healthy, vegan, gluten-free, plant-based food and lesser-known cuisines like Ethiopian and Tibetan foods.
YSW: Can you give some cooking tips to home chefs?
GS: Keep your cooking simple. The simpler the dish, the more authentic it will taste.
Stay Motivated: If you’re a chef who is cooking for passion, keep cooking even if you have several sous chefs working beside you. Do not forget your touch is important as it sets the flavour of your food apart from others.
YSW: What were some of your challenges when you launched your company?
GS: When I started The Evolved Palate, initially the struggle was how I would manage in the small space I had and how I would build my clientele. But I have been managing my brand effortlessly for the past five years.
YSW: What are your future plans?
GS: I’m working every day to put in more effort than I did on the previous day and continuing to promote my business on social media.
Edited by Megha Reddy