The age of ‘technoholics’

Spinning the world of culinary art is celebrity chef Amrita Raichand, who talks about the importance of technology in today’s time and her favourite kitchen equipment- the quintessential knife.

Could you elaborate on the role technology plays in a hotel kitchen?
Without a doubt, technology has been a great simplifier in every sphere of human life. Chefs have also benefitted greatly from various innovations that have made the process of cooking easier, less cumbersome, and also more enjoyable. It has actively captured the imagination of chefs who are using technology to make food more interesting and imaginative. From liquid nitrogen ice-creams and ovens that cook food all on their own to cooking dal makhani in combination ovens, technology has stretched boundaries. It also makes the process of cooking more precise and removes human error. For instance, for cooking a shank of lamb, where there are chances of it getting overcooked or undercooked using conventional methods, sous vide provides a perfect tech-enabled solution. It is the technique to cook food which has been tightly sealed in a water bath where the temperature is monitored and regulated closely. This process adds another layer of accuracy that is irreplaceable when one is aiming for perfection of taste.

How has this technology evolved over the years?
The 21st century has been a boon when it comes to improvement in kitchen technology. The demands and requirements of chefs today are not the same as they were a century ago. No wonder, technology kept evolving to fit the bill. An incredible number of changes have been witnessed from the time when pressure cookers were considered the height of technology. Equipment like Emerson circulators for sous vide cooking, dehydrators for producing candy-like fruits and vegetables, powders that turn a salad dressing into flavoursome dust, and centrifugal machines for filtration have turned the grandma’s kitchen into a lab den for some – a fantasy land for the technoholics! Truly, I believe that the kitchen space is an inspiration for an innovator. There is simply no dearth of ideas on how one can improve this or that to enhance the cooking process. After all, changing lifestyles that offer very little time for domestic purposes necessitate these changes today.

Being a chef, what is your favourite equipment and why?
My choice is slightly unorthodox and one can call me old-fashioned, but this kitchen equipment has been my preference for a long time. My favourite gizmo as a chef is the humble kitchen knife. When I express this thought, people look at me as if they are wondering if I am being honest, but if you think a kitchen knife is too insignificant to be given much weight-age, think again. From high-carbon Japanese knifes that come in various sizes and shapes to a sword-sized tuna knife or a European paring knife that is used for performing the finest work on a vegetable, there is not a variation that I cannot create today by reaching into my knife bag to rustle up some magical innovations. These novelties along with the help of some modern tech are laying the basis for tomorrow’s innovations. As a chef, I look forward to what great kitchen products the world will be filled with in the near future.