A tete-a-tete with Antonio Tardi, Executive Chef at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru
Antonio Tardi, Executive Chef at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru brings over two decades of culinary experience in five-star hotels and luxury hotels. He believes that hard work and dedication throughout his career has been the mantra for all the success he has achieved.
A native of Napoli, Italy, Chef Tardi honed his culinary skills at the prestigious L. De Medici, Ottaviano, Napoli and holds a certification on food service management from Cornell. Chef Tardi has also been an honorary inductee for Italian Cuisine Master Chef (ICMC), Barilla Academy, Italy (2013) and for Master Chef, World Gourmet Summit, Las Vegas Nevada (2006).
Chef Antonio Tardi in an interview spoke about his experience with Shangri-La Hotels, his style of cooking, what the food aficionados of Bangalore can expect from his kitchen, his experience of working with renowned master chefs and an inspirational message to all the budding chefs and amateur cooks.
Q. How long you have been working with Shangri-La Hotels? How has the experience been so far?
The journey started in 2010 when I joined Shangri-La Taipei in Taiwan, following which I moved to China and finally, in 2014, I joined as a part of the pre-opening team of Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru. While working with Shangri-La I have experienced numerous cultures and it brings in a dynamic and powerful perspective in my culinary journey.
Q. Everyone has their idol/inspiration in life. Who is yours?
My father Giusseppe is my inspiration. He introduced me to the real culinary world and also gave me a lot of good advice which made me the person I am.
Q. What is your style of cooking? Which is your signature dish?
I am a strong believer of nature and my cooking style varies according to nature’s cycle. I belong to a farmer family in Italy, and since my childhood, I have been very close to my Grandfather’s land in the lovely Naples country side. Because of that, I prefer to pick seasonal ingredients for my recipes. My culinary style is traditional, yet modern. I love to cook fresh seafood & seasonal vegetables, so I just need a few ingredients to make something dream-like.
Q. Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru is the group’s first property in south of India and the expectations of food enthusiasts will be riding high. Do you think this adds more responsibility and challenge on your able shoulders?
Yes of course. But at the same time I do not encourage imitating what others are already doing in the market. As said before, my focus is to incorporate primarily local produce in my menus. And I am sure the hard work and research that we have done in the last 2 years to develop the largest F&B in south India will pay off soon. At the same time it is a huge responsibility on us to deliver the right product with consistency and it’s a challenging project but at the same time challenges motivate one to deliver and achieve the goal. Ultimately my team and I are committed towards that.
Q. What can the food aficionados of Bangalore expect from the kitchen of Chef Tardi?
“You name it and you get it here” is the name of the game. We have the largest culinary team at Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru representing 7 different nationalities and food cultures. Our offerings are wide in terms of cuisines which include authentic Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Japanese, Chinese, a host of vegetarian options across the menus and, needless to say, a collection of the finest pastry products. It’s not only about serving various cuisines but also about creating memories & experiences which guests can take home and linger over even long after their meal.
Q. Please take us through your kitchen at Shangri-La, Bengaluru? The ambience, the chefs, ingredients and other things…
As mentioned, we have the largest number of F&B outlet with 8 different restaurants along with 02 floors of banquet facilities with a total of 12 kitchens, each with an individual restaurant. The latest tech is used in these kitchens, and so far, this is the best project I have been with. I am not following any specific trend, the goal is to set the trend. At Shangri-La Hotel, Bengaluru, the cuisines are healthy and simple, with modern presentations following the respect of the products and their seasonality.
Q. You had the privilege of working under various renowned chefs, including Chef Gualtiero Marchesi, Chef Davide Oldani and Chef Jean-Louis Nomicos. What was the experience like with each one of them?
Well actually, it was a privilege to work with these master chefs that made me a better professional chef. I would also like to introduce here my Grandma and Mom as my chef mentors who brought the real flavour in me and is still alive.
Q. In 2005 you moved to Caribbean. How did it add flavour to your professional life? What are the new things that you learned there and have incorporated in your kitchen & life ever since?
Caribbean was the turning point in my life because there I encountered Monique, the mother of my beautiful children. Caribbean inspired me with its Mediterranean and Caribbean influences which made my life hot and spicy!
Q. Here in India, people love Italian, French and other cuisines. Do you think Indian food is accepted and loved in other countries? Which is your favourite Indian cuisine (if any)?
I absolutely agree on that. Indian cuisine is gaining popularity everywhere in the world, and India has given the world some of the best chefs who have also received the Oscar of the culinary world, ‘The Michelin’, like Chef Atul Kochar, Chef Vineet Bhatia, Chef Gagan.
My favourite Indian cuisine is the Mangalorean cuisine made with fresh seafood.
Q. What does ‘Food’ means to you?
For me, Food is not only a substance which gives nutrition to the body. I believe food is the key to open your senses.
Q. You bring over two decades of culinary experience in five-star hotels and luxury hotels. What has been your success mantra? Any message for budding chefs and amateur cooks?
My success mantra includes hard work and dedication throughout my career. Respect to the people who I work with. Humbleness is the key in hospitality industry. Last but not the least, I never under estimate anybody around me.
For budding chefs I would suggest to go back to the basics and build up the fundamental experience before starting to fly high.