In the ever-evolving landscape of global gastronomy, India’s food scene is witnessing an exciting progression. The flavours of India, known for their diversity and depth, are taking centre stage on both, local and international platforms. A step in the same direction has been the collaboration between Masque, the 16th-ranked restaurant on Asia’s Top 50 Restaurants list, led by Chef Varun Totlani, and Eleven Madison Park, the celebrated New York institution helmed by the culinary maestro, Daniel Humm.
In Mumbai, Masque skillfully marries tradition with innovation, positioning itself prominently in India’s culinary revival. Meanwhile, Eleven Madison Park in the heart of New York City, is an iconic establishment known for its innovative fine dining. The restaurant’s commitment to sustainability, deep reverence for ingredients, and advocacy of vegetarian cuisine have placed Eleven Madison Park at the forefront of global gastronomy.
This collaboration is the brainchild of Aditi Dugar, restauranteur, and owner and founder of Masque. Inspiration hit when Eleven Madison Park turned plant-based post the pandemic. It was this, and the global shift in how Indian cuisine is perceived that drove her to realise this idea. “Globally, Indian food is really having its moment,” explains Dugar.
India is no longer viewed as the land of curry. This shift in perception can be attributed to the globalisation of diners’ palates the world over, and consequent openness to trying new flavours and cuisines.
Resulting in increased awareness about the country’s offerings, sparking curiosity about ingredients and traditional techniques, and enabling chefs around the globe, including Chef Humm, to recognize the potential for innovation and collaboration – “This trip has come with lots of learnings and sources of inspiration as there is a huge culture of vegetarian cuisine. We’re humbled to be cooking here with a restaurant that I think is truly important for India and the world – moving Indian cuisine forward and pushing boundaries,” said Chef Humm.
Like Eleven Madison Park, many restaurants worldwide have embraced the shift towards plant-based menus. The consumers’ rapidly changing attitude towards meat, increasing awareness about sustainability, and willingness towards trying out plant-based alternatives have motivated this shift.
Owing to these evolving trends, coupled with India’s stronghold on vegetarian cuisine, there are now more opportunities than ever before for the country to leave its mark on the global culinary map. The collaboration between Masque and Eleven Madison Park being an example of just that.
In their quest to create an unforgettable dining experience, Chefs Humm and Totlani embarked on a journey that spans continents and culinary traditions. In search of inspiration, they set out on a sourcing trip to the Himalayan belt, accompanied by a local guide, to explore the wooded region for ingredients and immerse themselves in the local flavours. This foraging expedition culminated in two exclusive dinners at Masque, Mumbai.
The resulting 10-course, plant-based menu represents a harmonious fusion of Indian and international culinary expertise. It is a coming together of the elegance of fine dining and a celebration of Indian ingredients and traditions.
For Chef Totlani, the biggest takeaway from this collaboration has been not just the cultural exchange but the opportunity to learn from each other’s approaches – “It’s a humbling experience to have them with us. It’s great to learn from them, to exchange ideas, and to get better together.”
Click here to watch our exclusive interview – Behind The Pass with Chef Daniel Humm and Chef Varun Totlani.