Chef Varun Inamdar is a multifaceted man with a diverse range of interests and hobbies. He is not just a chef, but one of India's very own Master Chocolatier, an entrepreneur, author, traveler as well as a food designer. Before commencing his journey into the culinary world, he attended the Oberoi Centre of Learning and Development.
His professional sojourn began with East India Hotels limited as an Associate Chef after which he joined Hilton Hotels Worldwide, Trident-India, Oberoi Hotels & Resorts at different capacities. He was Brand Development Manager and Executive Pastry Chef at The Royal family of Kuwait. The versatile chef is also the brand ambassador for Ecuadorian cocoa in India.
Founding partner and chef at 'The Chocolate Factory Ecuador'- India's premier chocolate brand endorsed by the Government of Ecuador, he has served many dignitaries and personalities like the royal family of Al Sabah, Al Khalifa and Al Saud in the Arabian Gulf to Barack Obama, Nicholas Sarkozy and Vladimir Putin to name a few. Another feather in his cap was the creation of a first-of-its-kind Chocolate Mannequin using 60 kg Ecuadorian chocolate in March 2015 at Palladium, Mumbai.
He is the only chef in India, who promotes chocolate as a luxury lifestyle ingredient in desserts and savory cuisines, pairing and appreciation trails for corporates and individuals.
The moment one says chocolate one thinks of a bar, but the world of cocoa is a true larger than life space. Well, more than just varieties of chocolates and traditionally what we can think of making with chocolates is now changing dramatically. Chocolate artists are looking at exploring newer horizons with each recipe experiment. I have myself discovered and rediscovered the child in me while playing with chocolates.
In 2013 while serving The Queen of Kuwait and Sheikh Majed Al-Sabah, they had invited 1000 guests to showcase the new talent she had imported from India, and that was The Indian Master chocolatier, Chef Varun Inamdar. From Princes of other states, politicians, world leaders and many dignitaries everyone was on the royal guest list. She invited him to her palace and briefed him about the magnitude of the event. And what was the event, you may ask? It was to announce his appointment as The Corporate Pastry Chef for the Royalty. Surprised, shocked yet thrilled all at the same time, Chef Inamdar wore his toque and went on to put his best foot forward. In a short time, the guest had fallen in love Inamdhar's skills.
He doesn't take challenges lying down. And at times like these, he becomes a live wire ready to electrifying the culinary world. He went on to announce his signature 'Cocoa Buffet' to wow the guest list. But before that, with each invite, he had prepared handcrafted chocolates coated with edible gold leaves. That was enough to set the guests thinking.
He obviously had to create a menu beyond just plain chocolates, mousses, soufflés, cakes and pastries. He harnessed his entire experience and presented an array of recipes which till today is talked about in the UAE.
Everything from 100% cocoa to 53% was on the cards. And a few new trends were also set rolling. Some of the trends he tapped then are forever etched as trends in Kuwait and we take immense pride in sharing them with you.
Spreadable 'chocolate caramel dip' in jars: Smooth, silken chocolate ganache using 65% chocolate from Ghana, tempered with liquid caramel scented with grated Black Perigord Truffles and served with house baked Danish biscuits, sparkled with Pink Himalayan salt.
Chocolate fondue: A hot 'Swiss' styled fondue pot containing Venezuelan 72% Araguani molten chocolate, scented with Tahitian vanilla beans was served with cookies and crackers. Did I miss to say that the fondue apparatus was made of gold? This adorned each table as a centre piece with 200 varieties of exotic fruits cut and placed around on platters. Some of which he had never seen in his life but had the privilege of using them for the first time, off course after several rounds of tasting and pairing experiments.
Chocolate fountain: 72 % dark chocolate from Bolivia was imported just for the fountain, which had 120 varieties of jujubes, marshmallows and French candies all made in-house.
Printed chocolates: Each chocolate piece had an emblem of each state that the guests represented. Not just that, it also had their names etched on the chocolates which raised an element of surprise. This was created using 6 varieties of single origin chocolates which included Les Grand Crus, viz Abinao 85%, Manjari 64%, Caraibe 66%, Guanaja 70%, Tainori 64%, and Alpaco 66%
Chocolate injections: Chocolate was flown down from world over and for these cute novelties. Cocoa from world over was flown in especially for the Cocoa buffet. For the injections however, he had used cocoa beans from Madagascar, Sao Tome, Venezuela, Cameroon and Cote d'Ivoire, and infused them with white strawberries, called pineberries, golden raspberries, Egyptian mangoes and African spices to name a few. It also had some Indian flavour blends like masala chai, Kashmiri kahwa, Banarasi Paan, Bhoot Jolokia to some whacky smoke, charcoal and cherry hookah scents.
Moreover, his idea was to go beyond the usual chocolate range and blends and move miles away from using the usual mint, lemon and orange. We went to chat with chef Inamdar for an hour and ended up spending over 4 hours with him. He went on and on explaining his creations. One noteworthy comment that he had, was an eye opener. He said, “Artisans have started coating vegetables like potato chips, peanuts, sweet potato, beans as snacks. Artists have started venturing beyond the usual nuts like almond, cashew and hazelnut. Experiments with pine nuts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts have taken foreground. Moreover, not just for novelty, but also for the fact that connoisseurs today are ready to pay for the quality offered.” He in fact even created pralines using pinenuts and Iranian rose petals with a signature logo etched on each as mignardises.
In future, he believes that floral notes in chocolate products are still occasional and only revolving around roses, jasmine and the likes. This is an avenue that has the potential to be explored more. We may soon expect an increasing number of chocolate with beautiful floral notes launching in the market, with a lot of different and innovative fillings and floral profiles. Infact, Sheikh Majed's grandmother was a flavour master and she helped them create a lot of unique flavour blends not just for their patisserie range, but also for their perfumes called – The Fragrance Kitchen.
Well, Chef Varun has always envisioned India on the chocolate map and with this kind of a spread, he just managed to deliver that yet again. At the do, all that was echoing was the word – Outstanding. Just when, the party was about to wrap, Chef marched in with a huge 5 ft diameter macaron globe cake with his entourage of 80 pastry men and women, who assisted him in this mammoth task.
It is so difficult to translate his experience literally. But it is an experience and feeling that will always remain etched in their memories, for years to come.