Q&A With Michelin-Starred Chef Sergi Arola
Two Michelin-starred Spanish chef Sergi Arola will launch the Arola restaurant and bar at the J. W. Marriott hotel in Juhu, on Monday, June 11. Arola, who trained under the renowned Ferran Adria and Michelin-starred French chef Pierre Gagnaire, has restaurants in Madrid, Barcelona and Paris. We spoke to Arola about his Mumbai outpost, the highlights of his menu here, and accommodating Indian tastes. Edited excerpts:
How did the idea of a Mumbai restaurant come about?
I believe India is on the brink of a culinary revolution. Indians are very experimental and are developing a palate for different cuisines. I also have a long association with [the] Marriott internationally. A restaurant in Asia has been on the cards and India seemed like the perfect option. I have something unique to offer in terms of cuisine and experience, and my first visit to Mumbai early last year proved that Indians could surely have the taste for it.
What are some of the highlights of the menu?
At Arola Mumbai, I will be serving the food of my home town, Catalonia. The menu will have numerous preparations called Pica Pica, which is a style of dining wherein a variety of creative dishes are served on a platter that is placed in the middle of the table for all to share. Some of my signature dishes are vine ripened tomatoes in a salad along with extra virgin olive oil, marinated tuna and black Alentejo olives; deep fried potatoes served with a spicy tomato sauce and topped with aioli; and prawns sautéed with garlic, chilli and parsley.
Does the menu at Arola Mumbai bear any likeness to the ones at your restaurants in Spain?
The menu will include a selected mix of all the popular dishes from Arola restaurants all over the world. I have also created a few signature items for the Mumbai restaurant. The aim is to surprise the Indian audience with eclectic European cuisine designed especially for their increasingly discerning palate.
Did you have to alter the menu in any way to accommodate Indian tastes?
Indians are very well traveled and are increasingly experimental with their palate. Spanish Catalan cuisine is a wonderful blend of robust flavours and spices which Indians are well accustomed with. I am sure they will enjoy the offerings at Arola Mumbai.
Are a lot of the ingredients imported?
Most of our produce is locally sourced. We have also tied up with various organic farms for the freshest supply. Currently we import the following products based on seasonality: white asparagus, chanterelle mushrooms, porcini mushrooms, foie gras, Iberian ham, salsichon (garlic ham), Idiazabal cheese, Manchego cheese, and anchovies from Cantabria.
Who will helm the kitchen at Arola when you are away?
Chef Manuel Olveira, who has worked closely with me at the Sergi Arola Gastro in Madrid. He specialises in Spanish cooking and has worked at various Michelin-starred restaurants.
How did you decide to have a gin focused bar?
We believe that the gastronomically-attuned audience in Mumbai will truly appreciate this nouveau concept. The USP is the unique gin and tonic menu served up with a spicy twist thanks to the use of ingredients such as bitters, vermouth and sherries.
How is actor Akshay Kumar affiliated with the restaurant?
He is a regular patron of the J. W. Marriott hotel.
J. W. Marriott Hotel
Juhu Tara Road
HoursDaily, 5pm to 12.45am