Chef Sandeep Sreedharan’s tryst with the culinary world began at an age where most kids have their heads buried in cartoons and video games. He was all of 10 years old when he started experimenting in the kitchen with his mother, playing around with flavours while creating ones that were hitherto unknown. Growing up in the coastal town of Mahe (the inspiration for his eponymous restaurant in Goa), Sandeep’s passion for the culinary arts was further fueled by his parents’ fervour for the same.
A seasoned traveller, Sandeep’s voyages have brought him in touch with a plethora of cuisines and cultures, imbibing him with the desire to create a medium to express the cultural and culinary diversity of the Indian South Western Coast. His goal was to weave the flavours of his hometown with the ones he has acquired from the world over, creating a gastronomic experience worthy of a place on the world map. That is how Mahe in Anjuna which promises a ‘Modern Coastal Experience” came to be.
Featuring a melange of largely coastal flavours, at Mahe, Chef Sandeep attempts to “deconstruct flavours from the coast, by applying the best global techniques along with few principles of Ayurveda and Yin-Yang as a philosophy to balance flavours and textures and put them on a plate.” Each of his creations delves deep into his past for inspiration, taking cues from his childhood memories and extensive travels.
His cooking style can best be described as experimental. Incorporating the freshest seasonal ingredients in his gastronomic escapades, his menus and techniques are forever evolving. Sandeep swears by creative and experimental cooking that makes the most of available resources, without ever compromising on sapidity. As he fondly says, this throws up a challenge, something he lives for!
Sandeep takes great pride in being a private chef and restaurateur since this has opened up an abundance of opportunities for him to create an all-around captivating dining experience for his patrons, not merely a tasty meal. Dining is theatre; the plating, the aroma, the textures and the flavours are all part of the cast. It is only when these myriad actors complement each other seamlessly that one can say they’ve had a truly bewitching gastronomic journey, something Sandeep has always strived to bring to his audience. In keeping with this philosophy, the plums with slow-cooked mackerel at Mahe are spiked with a chilli coconut foam, designed to invoke a sense of surprise while also comfort with known flavours. This is Sandeep’s rendition of the forgotten flavours of his childhood, presented in a wholly new and whimsical avatar.
Another fine example of his eclectic style can be seen with the Preserved Aubergine Rechado, aubergines stuffed with a traditional recheado masala (usually reserved for seafood) served with poi and a helping of cream to balance out the piquancy.
Through his brand Esca Brahma which first started as a blog, Sandeep has curated several experiential dining escapades. Of the many feathers in his cap are the 120 + high-end catered dinners that he has delivered with the #ModernCoastals concept, including successful pop-ups in Mumbai, London, Singapore, Munich and Dubai. Through Esca Brahma, he has also taken his passion for coastal food to Mumbai. As the proprietor of Curry Tales, his first casual fine-dining restaurant, he has aligned his efforts towards bringing the flavours of the southwestern coastal cuisine to his patrons in this metro.
Moving forward, Esca Brahma will pick up the pace by creating more innovating dining concepts and by being a platform that popularizes and glorifies the plethora of flavours from the Indian coast.
Sandeep is all set to continue his journey of travelling, collaborating and learning along with and from his global and local contemporaries, where he is, thus far, gaining considerable ground. He already has a collaborative and learning stint with Esszimmer, a 2 Michelin in Munich under his belt, where he trained under his friend and mentor Bobby Brauer. Sandeep counts this as a notable milestone, from the perspective of how much is there to learn, not simply about food, but about the processes and direction required to create simple yet sublime fare consistently.