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Oman and the possibility of a Michelin-starred restaurant

This week has been an exciting week for foodies, chefs and the food sector in the Middle East as Michelin Star Guide just announced that they are bringing the famed star-rating guide to Dubai.

In a press conference on March 29, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of the Michelin Guides announced: “We are delighted to announce that Dubai will be joining the Michelin Guide family. Our team of inspectors is already in the field, in order to prepare the first selection of restaurants, which will be revealed in June.”

This news is nothing new for Chef Rohit Ghai who was in Oman for a 5-day pop-up event at Shangrila Al Husn.

He said, "There are also a lot of good chefs in GCC, there are a lot of good restaurants who are putting a lot of effort. Due to Covid, a lot of plans had been put on hold but for sure, it has been in the works of trying to bring the Michelin here in the GCC, eve in India."

Chef Rohit is considering opening a restaurant in Oman the details of which he said will be announced in due time.

Chef Rohit’s international career began in 2008 when he joined Michelin-starred Benares in London’s Mayfair, where he developed an understanding of the British palate and French techniques. In 2013, as a talented rising star in the London restaurant scene, his created flair for cooking earned him a role as executive chef of two Michelin-starred restaurants, Trishna and Gymkhana.

He opened his first solo site, Kutir in late 2018. Kutir is co-founded by Ghai and Abhi Sangwan who met during their time at Gymkhana, Bombay Bustle and Hoppers, and translated from Sanskrit means 'a small cottage in the middle of nowhere.'

Kutir menu draws inspiration from the royal tradition of hunting expeditions in the luscious forests and jungles of the Indian countryside. The food is representative of the feasting-style, convivial and celebratory dining that occurs on these retreats, and menus feature highly seasonal ingredients with an emphasis on game and seafood and offer a tasting, or ‘expedition’ menu of 6 tasting courses.

While it will still take time for his Oman restaurant to open, Chef Rohit shared a few tidbits of information about what he will be focusing on.

"Oman is the perfect location where Indian food is regarded very well and people love it if it's done well. Indian food is famous for its flavours. Opening a new restaurant in Oman means offering dishes with the right balance of spices. That's what it is," he said.

He also said that the move to Oman wouldn't stop him from trying to get a Michelin star.

"The Michelin Star, it's an organization that does surprise visits. Whoever is on their radar, they keep following which means that they also keep following me and they are quite updated about the things that I do," he said.

"The main agenda for any restaurant is to make their customers happy. If you're opening a fine dining restaurant, you have to put in a lot of effort. It means paying attention to the little details including the cutleries. I do bespoke food where I have to source the ingredients from India. If you're doing a lot of effort, there's no harm in trying to get a star," he added.

"I work really hard to elevate the food experience. I tried different recipes. This 5-day pop up for example is a lot of work. There are six courses but we have to break it down into veg and non-vegetarian. Together, that's more than 20 to 23 different elements on the plate. I change the menu in the UK quarterly. The consistency of food service are very important and this is what I am looking into if the plan pushes through," he said.

While he might be operating a restaurant in Oman, Chef Rohit said he will still be based in London.

"I'm not gonna be here permanently. My base will always be London but I will have my team here and I will be in and out all the way. It still needs supervision. When it comes to these experiences, the consistency of food and service are very important. To have the right consistency, I have to have the right people here and that's possible in Oman," he said.

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