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Chef Akanksha Dean Chef Manager, Imperfecto SHOR Café & Club, Aerocity New Delhi

Monday, August 12, 2019, 15:31 Hrs  [IST]

Imperfecto SHOR Café & Club is the latest talk of the town in the Delhi- NCR F&B market. Opened recently at The Pride Plaza Hotel in Aerocity, Shor Café & Club is the only 24x7 café in Delhi NCR which is a casual dining café restaurant in the day and changes gear in the evenings as a party place. While SHOR has its own unique design vibes inspired along with the Gothic and Romanesque design patterns by Nuria Rodriguez, what is giving the new address all its attention is its young and dynamic Chef Manager, Akanksha Dean, who runs the show at the shop-floor level. All of 23 years, she has tried to put together a well-researched menu which is more comforting to the diners, and also going with the emerging demand for organic and health food. P Krishna Kumar shares his experiences after being overwhelmed by warm culinary hospitality of Chef Akanksha Dean at SHOR Café & Club.

It’s like every road in the city leading to Aerocity and its latest F&B address, SHOR Café & Club if the number of reviews, blogs, social media posts, etc. for the last couple of months was any indication. More than the hold of the Imperfecto chain in the market, it was the association of the Deans’ with it seemed to be working behind the scene in getting the outlet a big hit in the visibility chart in otherwise cluttered F&B scene of the city.

Chef Akanksha Dean, daughter of one leading culinarians in the country, Chef Bakshish Dean, is the face of SHOR. Although this is her first independent assignment as a Chef Manager, Chef Akanksha looked all set to prove herself and at the same time deliver results to the investors.

Our conversation started around my curiosity to understand her unique profile – a Chef Manager. “It’s more of an American concept,” she started explaining it. It’s she only who proposed the concept to the owners. “A Chef Manager takes care of the F&B operations and the Kitchen. It’s a twin responsibility,” she clarified.

An alumnus of IHM Aurangabad, Akanksha developed a penchant for food and art of cooking from a very young age taking inspiration from her parents. She travelled extensively both within the country and more than 20 countries to understand the original perspective of the food culture. Of late, she completed her training under famous Italian Chef Massimo Bottura at 3-Michelin Star Restaurant ‘Osteria Francescana’ in Modena, Italy. “Learning is a lifelong process for a chef. Training under Chef Massimo was an enriching experience for me,” she says.

SHOR has two different menus for diners. One is an all-day café menu, and the other one is Chef’s signature menu. Akanksha has tried to fuse the name of her signature offerings with the Gothic and Romanesque characters and stories of the period. The name of each dish has been inspired by stories of men and women of the Gothic Era. ‘The Abby of Darkness’ suggests the morish Spanish black rice with prawns and calamari, ‘King Leopold’s Succession’, the Non- Vegetarian Burger named after the longest reigning Belgian monarch, the Spanish Croquettas served as the ‘The Royal Portal’, etc. “The Chef menu will be cyclic, introducing new dishes from countries I travelled to,” she said.

Despite the quirky names, the food is more towards the ‘comfort’ side. She ran a market study before finalising the menu at SHOR. “I visited many café and restaurants in the city to understand the pulse. Although I personally like fine-dining concepts, I found that the market is still for comfort food,” she said. She has also tried to tweak in a number of healthy options as there is a growing market for organic and healthy food. “People understand Quinoa in salad only. It’s a versatile grain which can be used as a substitute for so many things,” she said. Akanksha tries to present Quinoa as a salad as well as a dessert.

While she is enjoying the promotions and hype that SHOR is generating for itself and for her for the time being, she has no qualms in conceding that her real passion and dream is to set up a fine dinner which gives her opportunities to play with a lot of ingredients and flavours. But she realises that there won’t be a market for such concepts in India soon. “Markets like Bangkok or Singapore are ideal for my dream restaurant,” she said.

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