Why have you ventured into the food industry?
This is like an extension of my textiles. Like how I revived different weaves as a designer, I am now doing the same with old, forgotten recipes. A lot of us have forgotten the traditional recipes of our heritage. So, I wanted to bring back all of it with this kitchen. I have put in 12 years into Gaurang’s Kitchen which is all about traditional Indian food. It took me this long to set up my kitchen because I got busy with my shows and was always looking for the right space. I always dreamed of having a big restaurant and I finally got the right space last year. Now, here I am, open to serve my dear customers who look forward to enjoying rich, vegetarian food. They can spend as much time as they like here with their loved ones; there’s no pressure for them to leave the place as soon as they finish their meal.
If you have to choose, what would it be — your label or Gaurang’s Kitchen?
This (kitchen) is also design; I am designing food and recipes here. I am bringing back all the long-lost recipes through this venture. When you take a look at the interiors, you can see my designs framed in every corner. The furniture, cushions and other furnishing are all my designs. I have used different fabrics for the drapes. A lot of thought has gone into everything here to make sure that the place looks the best for the guests to sit and enjoy themselves.
Could you tell us a bit about the menu?
We have a different menu every day, and it is different for lunch and dinner. My chefs list all the dishes they can cook and out of this, I pick and choose the combinations for the day. My bother-in-law in Mumbai, who supplies all ingredients to restaurants there, has helped me get a chef for my restaurant.
Why did you pick Hyderabad to open your restaurant?
It is my city, it is my home and Hyderabad does not have a space like this. I have a strong connect with this city; I was born here. We are Gujaratis from Kutch, yet somehow, Hyderabad is home.
What do you think of Hyderabad’s culinary culture? Do you see it growing?
Yes, it is growing, but in the pubs, non-vegetarian and western culture ways. No one thinks of opening an Indian or vegetarian restaurant anymore. That’s why, for 12 years I had this idea stuck in my head — to open an Indian restaurant that serves cuisines from all over India. I have covered the North, West and South of our country’s cuisines, soon I will venture into the East.
The interiors are warm and cosy. Could you walk us through your thought process behind it?
It took me six months to complete it. We started on October 1, 2021 and completed it on March 31. Pandemic or no pandemic, I always had 10 ideas in my head to implement and it worked out well. Also, I like to sit down and eat. That’s why you see the dhaba seating. I love eating with my hand. To be frank, I did not want to give our guests spoons and forks. But that would have been way too much. I want people to experience our food with their hands and not a spoon or fork.
‘Will soon start veg Hyd dishes’
Your ice-cream menu looks interesting.
We have desi ice-creams such as the Sandesh and Mishti Doi which I sourced from Kolkata. During my extensive travels as a designer, I had food from every region. I wanted to bring these to Hyderabad too. For example, if I want Sandesh, why should I have to visit Kolkata, why can’t we get it here?
How do you manage to get the ingredients for the different traditional cuisines?
From different parts of the country — ice-creams from Mumbai and Kolkata, some vegetables from Mumbai, my mango pulp is from Raipur.
Which city’s food do you like the most?
Ahmedabad has a great variety. Mumbai is another place where you find all kinds of foods, especially the street food. I will soon be introducing some vegetarian Hyderabadi dishes such as biryani, dalcha and curries which the traditional Muslim families used to make.
Your favourite dish at Gaurang’s Kitchen?
Everything on the menu is my favourite, I cannot differentiate. This entire thali that I have created today is my baby. Every day you visit, you will be served something different.
Till today, the world new Gaurang Shah as the textile revivalist who weaved contemporary designs into traditional looms. After making his mark in the fashion industry, the celebrity designer has now entered another highly competitive sector with grand plans — the food industry. On a mission to revive age-old Indian recipes, Gaurang has set up a restaurant in Jubilee Hills. As the Hyderabadi cooks up a storm with his vegetarian thalis, Shreya Veronica catches up with him at Gaurang’s Kitchen