Blown away by Indian food

Expat zone

Blown away by Indian food

His job requires him to be a gourmet but at heart, he is a gourmand. And this is what brought him to India — he all but jumped at the opportunity to work here. “I love Indian food. And I have great respect for Indian chefs and their mothers!” says  Patrick Lefranc, EAM (Food and Beverage), Shangri-La Hotel.

Explaining his connection to Indian food, he adds, “In 2007, I vacationed in Goa for two weeks with my wife, my best friend and his wife. We had so much food there but it was one small restaurant near our hotel that really left its mark on me. We decided to have crab curry and picked out three, huge green crabs there and sat down with a bottle of wine. Two bottles down, and the dish still hadn’t arrived. When it finally came to the table, we realised why it had taken so long — the live crab we picked out was completely deboned and made into a fantastic curry!”

The Frenchman has been in the City for nearly two years and he doesn’t hesitate to walk into a restaurant to experiment with food. “I like to explore the City and if I smell something nice, I’ll walk in to see what it is. I have been to most of the restaurants in the City but I prefer stand-alone ones.” His favourites are ‘Karavalli’, ‘Sanchos’ and ‘Harima’.

Patrick used to be a chef and specialised in pastries and seafood. On what Indian dishes he relishes, he adds, “I like ‘pani puri’ — it’s juicy, crunchy and explodes in your mouth. Curries, tandoori dishes and sweets are my other favourites. When it comes to breads, I like ‘rotis’ that aren’t oily and don’t have much garlic on them.”

He mentions that it’s easy to be a vegetarian in India. “Before coming to India, I thought I knew vegetarian dishes but I understood that I didn’t know much. In Europe, most of the menu is filled with seafood and meats. Here, there is a great diversity.”

Talking more about France, he adds, “I am from a small town called Roanne, near Lyon. It is a gastronomic area with one of the oldest Michelin star establishments. Actually, you can expect good food anywhere you go in France. We like to eat and use fantastic ingredients. In Roanne, everything is about family. And sports is an important part of our lives.” Patrick has two children — Daniil, 15, and Alexis, 13 — who live in Majorca with their mother. But the entire family reunited for Christmas and went to Kabini for a few days.  

He left France in 1989 and never went back. “I understood that if I wanted a well-paying job, I’d have to leave France. I also wanted to see the world.” And that’s exactly what he’s done — Patrick has worked in Poland, South Africa, Russia, Philippines, China, Taiwan, Spain and the US.

A self-proclaimed workaholic, he says that he spends most of his time at work.
But when he isn’t at the hotel, he is walking around the City and also whipping up some good food at home. “My weekly off is usually on a Sunday and I have a routine that I follow. I wake up in the morning, drink coffee, watch the news and go to the supermarket. Every night, no matter what time I arrive, I like to cook. I make my mamma’s specialities — green salads, grilled meats, soups and different egg preparations. And if it’s not too late, I stop by ‘Desserted’, which is next to work, and pick up biryani.”

After the trip to the supermarket, where he replenishes his fridge for the week, he makes stew for the coming days. “The more you reheat the stew, the tastier it gets.” In the afternoon, Patrick takes a walk and often goes to Cunningham Road. “I like to go for a foot massage. I’m very ticklish so I prefer foot rubs. When I get home in the evening, I watch a movie and go to bed early,” he says, adding, “Yes, it’s pretty boring.”

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