Even if you don’t live in Mumbai, you’ve likely eaten Gresham Fernandes’ food. The Head Chef at Impresario, and at the helm of almost 40 restaurants across the country, it’s his menus you’ll find at places like Smoke House Deli, Salt Water Café, and all those Social’s. But Gresham’s love of food goes way back, and he’s been in the kitchen since he was five years old, the springboard for a career that has included a short residency at Copenhagen’s legendary Noma, and a whole slew of cool culinary projects, like Gypsy Kitchen, the pork-heavy (and appropriately monikered) Swine Dine dinner series, and pop-up dinners at Bandra’s gorgeously ramshackle St. Jude Bakery.
When you speak to Gresham about food, one thing is immediately evident: this is a man who is a passionate advocate of inherited culinary traditions, about food histories, and about the flavours that bring together local communities. Gresham has long been involved in projects that aim to preserve Mumbai’s local food traditions, and that preoccupation finds its way into his cooking, whether in nose-to-tail cooking, in using seasonal produce, or in recycling ingredients in uncommon ways.
We spoke with him about the city’s changing food landscape, a few of his pet projects, and what comfort food means to him. And while he spoke, he cooked. A fermented mushroom and eggs starter, a buttery corn ravioli with super-fragrant truffle oil and fermented lime, and a raspberry yuzu with white chocolate fuelled our chat. Just thinking about it makes our mouths water.