Twenty Four Hours With Karan Mittal, Ananda
It is fair to say that I am a regular customer and big supporter of Ananda Restaurant, in Dundrum. Karan Mittal is the head chef there.
One of my favourite things to do on a Saturday afternoon is to book myself into Ananda to eat the latest seasonal version of the tasting menu. Karan has been and remains one of my favourite chefs and the more I eat his food and the more I want him to keep cooking. I live in the fear that one day, he will decide Ireland is too small for him and then where will I get my fix from I ask you? I have been lighting candles that some young Irish woman will tie him down to us. It’s that or one day you might end up finding him chained to my kitchen sink. Stranger things have happened.
I kid, I kid but all joke aside, Karan Mittal is one of the good souls. You will often hear about the toxic masculinity and the egos at play in the kitchen. Sure, I’ve written (and keep writing) a whole series of interviews with women just to get the balance moving back a bit. But Karan is not problematic. He is kind and humble, friendly and a real team player and he never puts himself forward. When he participated in the Eurotoques contest last year and made it to the finale, I asked him who in the line up did he want to beat? Was there someone he felt was more of a competition maybe? He answered that the only person he wanted to win again was the best version of himself. Now, I’m an aul cynic and this is very *wax on wax off* for me but the thing is, he meant it and you can’t actually argue with that. To me, this what happens when the Ready Break Glow kid grows up. He becomes Karan Mittal.
If you want to see Karan this year, keep an eye out on pop ups as he’s a hound for a good collaboration, classes ran by the Jaipur group, festivals and absolutely book yourself into Ananda. You will never be sorry.
And sure, if you think I’m gushing, fear not, nobody’s perfect, the fella watches Friends. Could HE be more of a Monica?
Twenty-four Hours With Karan Mittal
7.45 am – Alarm starts to ring but I’m a snoozer.
8.00 – Wake up and drink a glass of hot water.
8.30 – Get ready for the day.
8.50 – Head out for f45 training. Today is a cardio workout. Because of the long hours in the kitchen, I find keeping my fitness levels up is essential for both my body and my head.
10.45 – 11.10 – Get ready for work while I talk with mom and dad. Living in different time zones means we have to be organised to catch up regularly.
11. 30 – Get into Ananda and check today’s bookings and arrange the supply in the stores. I have a word with suppliers to see what’s fresh, running out or coming into season. This allows us to tweak our menu and use optimum ingredients.
12.15 – Give today’s mise-en-place a quick once over and make sure the list of things to do is up to date.
12.30 – Make the dark chocolate cremeux, raspberry puree, walnut crumb, caramel panna cotta.
14.30 – We have a quick team huddle over a cuppa and discuss today’s booking sheet, allergies, tasting menu and specials of the day
14.45 – Start to cook staff meal, today we made green Thai chicken curry and rice. Staff meals are important. It’s a few minutes of chatting and eating together. The food needs to be tasty and nutritious to fuel us for the service ahead. And it must always be tasty!
16.00 – lunch break
16.20 – Last minute prep, cleaning of the kitchen and check that all sections are ready to go.
17.00 – Every day, I brief the service team, telling them about one dish in particular. Today was all about our coastal thaali. I remind them about recipes and allergens on the menu.
17.30 – Today, I’m managing the pass section, so I’m setting it up (garnishes, frying of papads, samphire pakoras, spinach fritters, pickling pearl onion, herb trays…). The pass section is where you manage the kitchen order tickets and forward the orders to the kitchen team and ensure everything is perfect as the food makes its way to our guests. The timing of orders from the pass is crucial as you need a full understanding of how long something takes to prepare to ensure that the table can get all their orders at the same time. I review and garnish each dish as it heads out. Random hurdle on the night, a whole table requires tasting menus to be gluten-free. This is really something that should be ordered at the time of booking to give us the time to accommodate the request, but we like to try our best and so that goes out smoothly if not easily.
19.30 – the first seating finishes and I go on the floor to interact with the guests. We did around 75 covers. Time to replenish the garnish trays and ask the kitchen porter to broom and mop the floor and clean down our sections and so we can get ready for the second seating.
8.00 – The second seating starts. we get 6 tables at the same time for a la carte and 4 tables for tasting menus. During this seating, I help the starter section move the dishes quicker towards the pass. I cook and supervise the assembly of the gluten-free tasting menus. It’s a very busy night for tasting menus and so I end up working the dessert section as well. The sous chef steps in at the pass and all goes smoothly for the kitchen team.
22.00 – Final chat with the floor manager for any feedback I need to be aware of and one last chat with the guests.
22.30 – We get cracking and clean down the kitchen before we have a small dinner and head home. This allows us to unwind together before breaking away for the night.
23.15 – Time to head home with music on my ears.
23.45 – Reach home and get changed, do a load of washing and talk to my brother and sister in law who live in the US. Watch an episode of FRIENDS on netflix while I fall asleep.