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"In India, many kitchens are nicely set up but mostly the menu is not always considered while designing."


"In India, many kitchens are nicely set up but mostly the menu is not always considered while designing."

December 27, 2021

Soumadip Dey

In an exclusive interaction with Kitchen Ideas, Jayanandan Bhaskar, Executive Chef, Karma Lakeland resort highlights the challenges associated with live cooking and how to circumvent it through design interventions, to Soumadip Dey

Live cooking and open kitchens are trends that are fast catching up in India with most resorts and luxury hotels introducing live cooking in their restaurants. Live cooking not only makes the dining experience more interactive and interesting for the patrons but also lets the diners have a first-hand experience and get to see exactly what goes into preparing the dish of their choice.

Kitchen designs play an important role to ensure live cooking is a success. Even then there are challenges. Chef Jayanandan Bhaskar from Lucknow, the city known for its food and flavours, is perhaps one of the few Indian chefs who have done live cooking even before it became a trend here. According to him, “There are quite a few challenges involved in live cooking. I have faced those in different situations, while working at hotels, during workshops, and during shows. I have done multiple shows in India and Dubai where I had to cook at live stations. The biggest challenge that I faced at live cooking shows is in the design of the workstations. The flow with which you work in a normal kitchen is not always possible. In a live station, there is no system for RO water so sometimes there is not enough supply. If you run out, it creates a break in the flow of cooking.”

The challenges

Another problem he faced in the design of some live kitchens was the drainage. The water system that is in place in a kitchen is not always present at every live station. The system is usually better at a studio or a show but while cooking at workshops or during open cooking, the water system is an issue.

In terms of safety open cooking has its own set of challenges because it is always not possible to implement safety regulations perfectly in a live cooking station as it would be in a normal kitchen. Everyone wants to work in a safe environment where proper guidelines are being followed. But in live cooking stations, there are mishaps sometimes and it is a challenge that is difficult to overcome. But then again for safety purposes, Chefs try to use induction ovens instead of usual gas ovens. This presents its own limitations. Cooking Indian dishes using an Induction is problematic.

Speaking from personal experience, Bhaskar explained, “If you take one of the most popular Indian dishes – Biryani when cooking it on an induction at a live station, it is not possible to give it the perfect ‘dum’ as it would have been on a gas oven. The same goes for some Kebabs which are difficult to cook even on a gas oven. So, if a well-designed grill is somehow incorporated in the design of a live cooking station, the job becomes much easier.”

Increased availability of appliances

However, with new and advanced kitchen appliances, cooking has become easier. Speaking about trends in Kitchen design, Bhaskar described how in the last three or four years the kitchen design and trends have changed immensely. A large number of brands whose kitchen appliances were not available in India earlier are now available and that has made a major impact in kitchen designs.

Some brands had only a few limited products in India now they have launched a full range of models and have also designed appliances that cater specifically to Indian dishes. So now there are appliances that are designed to cook Indian dishes like Indian bread. The changes in kitchen trends and designs have now become more favourable for chefs. With more automation, kitchens especially commercial kitchens have become safer to work in these days even for new or inexperienced chefs.