15 June 2016

Italian Chef Cook-Off at JW Marriott Aerocity: A Phenomenal Meal!

JW Marriott Hotels have a very interesting activity going on across its properties in India. An Italian Chef Cook-Off between the chefs of various JW Marriott Hotels managing Italian cuisine in that hotel. The Italian Chef Cook-Off that took place in cities like Pune, Delhi and Mumbai among others, saw 3 chefs from 3 different properties of JW Marriott participating in each cook-off. I went for the cook-off that happened at JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity, where the three chefs were Chef Vincenzo Sirna from JW Marriott New Delhi Aerocity, Chef Roberto Zorzoli from JW Marriott Sahar Mumbai and Chef Matteo Arvonio from JW Marriott Juhu Mumbai.

The event took place at K3, JW Marriott Aerocity’s 24 hour coffee shop- the place that also has the most scrumptious buffet in town. The set up was completely different from how it is usually. It was a fine dining setting with various wine glasses and cutlery placed beautifully, and the day’s menu kept for each diner. Looked really plush and grand.

The energy in the restaurant was too infectious. Chef Vincenzo was cooking at the open kitchen outside, in his element and so meticulously working on the food. It was a treat to look at him cook. Chef Roberto and Chef Arvonio who were cooking in the main kitchen inside, were coming and talking to guests, interacting with them, being very jovial and kind to their diners.

The meal had been spread across 6 courses, and each chef was responsible for 2 courses/dishes. There were different wines paired with each course, hence the different glasses on the table. Each course, apart from the amuse-bouche and sorbet, had an option between a vegetarian and non-vegetarian dish, and you could choose one. Went with non-vegetarian for all courses. We were served a bread basket with two dips- an olive dip and tomato dip, with focaccia bread, grissini, music paper bread with oregano and ciabatta. The bread basket was simply sensational! Very rarely do you come across bread baskets that have every bread taste insanely good. This was one of those rare rare places/meals for me. So soft, so fresh, and such good accompanying dips.

Dish 1 | Amuse- bouche: Shooter Caprese (Chef Vincenzo Sirna)

The amuse bouche was generous in quantity, that was my first reaction when I saw the glass, and I loved that. A yummy balance of salty acidic airy textures and flavours coming together. A beautiful tomato jelly in the bottom with very fresh tomatoes, a mozzarella mousse then, with an avocado mousse on top. The chef told me later how this was conceptualised keeping the colours from the flag of Italy in mind. And it looked just that! Lovely on the palette, just right to set the mood and expectations for the evening.  

Dish 2 | Appetizer: Chicken Liver Pate’, Smoked Duck and NZ Lamb Chop (Chef Roberto Zorzoli)
Paired with Marchesi di Barolo Gavi Classico, 2013

Beautiful art on a plate! The Chicken Liver Pate’ was as silky, soft and fine-textured as you could imagine. Bang on with the flavours- an espresso powder to go with it. The espresso was like a dream with the liver pate’. Balanced the saltiness and richness of the pate’ really well with its sweetness and coffee flavour, the chef said espresso is supposed to clean your mouth. Least expected this to go well with the other elements but wow! The smoked duck was amazing too. It was cooked sous vide for 4 hours, hence the softness and flavour. With crispy celeriac and some fresh lettuce, it was really well cooked. The Lamb Chops, as expected, were super soft. Came with pickled vegetables on it, with the juice seeping in through the lamb chops as well. The vegetables, cooked in vinegar, water, sugar and olive oil, were kept overnight in this mix. Delicious stuff! A dish that left you thinking- how good was that?!

Dish 3 | First Course: Ravioli with Lobster and Burrata Cheese (Chef Vincenzo Sirna)
Paired with Planeta La Segreta, 2011

Three pieces of ravioli with a very juicy incredible stuffing of lobster. Lobster by itself tastes superb, and when stuffed inside a ravioli with so many more elements to give it the extra edge, it goes on a whole new level. The other elements in the dish were a lovely Crustacean bisque sauce and Burrata Cheese that brought the richness, and a green pea puree. The ravioli was yummy and not too heavy. Understandably so- because of the line-up of courses ahead of us. But you got to finish the dish before it gets cold, because the pasta then becomes hard. The dish comes from Sicily.

Dish 4 | Sorbet: Mango Sorbet with Coconut and Limoncello (Chef Mattero Arvonio)

A mango sorbet with young coconut and limoncello. I cannot even describe how good this sorbet was! So fresh and so delicious with the mangoes, the coconut did nothing but uplifted the sorbet beautifully, and that limoncello. Limoncello is a liqueur that comes from Southern Italy. The perfect acidic mango coconut amalgamation you can imagine! And these flavours in a sorbet- what more do you need?

Dish 5 | Main Course: Pan-Seared Chilean Sea-Bass (Chef Matteo Arvonio)
Paired with Col Di Sasso Banfi, 2013

A preparation from Tuscany, this was our main course. A big piece of Chilean Sea-Bass which had been pan-seared and cooked in thyme, oregano and lemon zest, it was cooked brilliantly. The juices of the fish were intact, it was so so soft, and the flavours were not too overpowering. The fish was on a bed of Tuscan skewed tomatoes and some swiss chard for the greens. The skewed tomatoes and the mix of herb oil were the stars of the dish for me. The fish was undoubtedly cooked really well, but it’s the flavours of the fresh yummy skewed tomatoes that won me over more than the fish. A very subtly-spiced, delicate dish, but what taste!


Dish 6 | Dessert: Pampering of Chocolate (Chef Roberto Zorzoli)

This was the highlight of my meal. Each dish I tried before this was superlative, but this was the *perfect* end to the meal, and how! It was beauty on a plate, and beauty on the palette as well. So so many elements here- a milk Chocolate and Walnut Tart, a White Chocolate Sphere and a Spiced Dark Chocolate Candy. The presentation was gorgeous! A soft but crisp tart which could be broken with a spoon, with a mind-blowing milk chocolate set inside. This had Nutella in it too. On top was placed a white chocolate sphere in a lollipop stick. Thick and firm on the outside and very soft and velvety on the inside. Sensational! Some crumb on the side, and a candy wrapped like a surprise. This was a sticky candy made of dark chocolate. The menu said it was spiced but I couldn’t taste the spice. I was too involved in the chocolate bit to observe anything else. This was a dessert coma, a dessert orgasm, dessert porn- call it whatever. This was sheer brilliant stuff.

This was JW Marriott’s best activity to showcase their talent across India, and oh my, exceptional stuff it was! Like I wasn’t a fan of JW Marriott Aerocity already, I’ll now definitely pay their other properties a visit too when I’m travelling. Top notch food with amazing service. The best experience you can ask for.

Address: Asset Area 4, Hospitality District, Delhi, Aerocity, Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi, Delhi 110037
Timings: 24 hours

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