At 23, Akanksha Dean is among the youngest Indian chef managers with her Goth-inspired resto-bar, Imperfecto SHOR Cafe, in the Delhi-NCR region. Dean is the first Indian chef to briefly train with Massimo Bottura at Modena, Italy; the top chef’s three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana is still considered the best restaurant in the world.
How are you planning to make Imperfecto SHOR Cafe stand out?
Imperfecto SHOR Cafe is a casual dining option. The cuisine has a strong respect for the seasonality and abundance of Delhi. We believe that the beautiful balance between the Romanesque and Renaissance architecture of SHOR Cafe provides the perfect ambience for our style of food preparation.
What are some of your most innovative dishes and cooking techniques?
At SHOR, we keep our food simple and hearty. Our quinoa fruit pudding, for example, is an innovative dessert. People mainly use quinoa in salads, but at SHOR, we have created a delicious pudding with it. We are using traditional methods of cooking but presenting [the food] in a modern way.
What are some hacks you have learnt from Massimo Bottura that is helping you in the kitchen?
Cleanliness, teamwork and patience. Chef Massimo is a genius and visionary. He is a true-blue example of a chef who has managed to popularise traditional cuisine in a whole new way. Modena is a small town, but diners come from all over the world just to dine at his restaurant. He is truly my inspiration, and I was very fortunate to get the opportunity to work in his kitchen.
What are some features of casual dining in India that you would want to change?
I do not think I want to change anything. That said, it is imperative in today’s hospitality scenario to think and act differently. Understanding the pulse of the market is key; it is a great weapon in the hands of a chef.