The chef who brought Michelin Star to Indian cuisine

 

For over a decade, he has been the face of Indian cuisine in Singapore and South East Asia.  Master Chef Milind Sovani and his restaurant The Song of India have iconic status in culinary scene. Mumbai-born Sovani returned to India in 2012 to start his own fine dining chain of restaurants – April Rain in Pune, but the Singapore success continues.

Instrumental in bringing back pride to Indian cuisine, Chef Sovani now has the badge of honour as The Song of India recently got a Michelin Star – one of the most venerated titles in the gastronomical world. It all had started in 2006 when Chef Sovani took upon the mantle to create the finest Indian cuisine restaurant, which would change the gourmand’s perception towards Indian food in Singapore. Till then, Indian cuisine in Singapore was mostly a street food served on banana leaves at $5 a meal. Then there was the two decade old new entrant – the North Indian cuisine, which was perceived slightly higher valued than the south Indian fare. But Indian food was not considered anywhere close to fine cuisines by French, Italian or even Chinese star chefs.

Chef Sovani took up the challenge and found the right partners in achieving his dream. They selected a heritage bungalow and converted it into an island of solace, created an opulent décor, got the finest silverware, artworks on walls by renowned artists that changed each month. Chef Sovani added a wine list, which would put even the top most French restaurants to shame. “Before finalising the menu we had extensive trials along with award-winning French Sommelier Marc, where each dish was paired with the right wines from across the globe. I travelled extensively to various parts of India, tasted different delicacies, and selected key expert chefs from that cuisine to join my team. The outline of the menu was formed, but the main task was creating a new cuisine, which was authentic in taste (not fusion) but looked and felt very global,” explained Chef Sovani. So at The Song of India, you can eat their not-so-hot Tandoori chicken, which goes well with a German Riesling and Lucknowi lamb shank and is beautifully paired with a French or Australian Shiraz!

The restaurant was launched in 2006 and was instantly a big hit, as Singapore had not witnessed Indian cuisine in such an avatar ever before. “The Song of India is my baby, but big thumbs up to the head chef there at the moment. The Michelin Star celebrates the vision of the chef, the story behind all menu and the consistency with which good food is served. The way I created the modern Indian dishes is by deconstructing an Indian dish and then reconstructing the same with my style without losing its heart – the taste. Congratulations for entire team of TSOI to maintain the high standards of cooking,” added Chef Sovani

Even as he is busy dolling out designer, personalised menus for high-end weddings, parties and creating innovative menus at April Rain, Sovani continues to make waves on the global cuisine scene as he was the only Indian chef invited in Singapore two years ago to discuss and design the Asia chapter of the San Pellegrino ‘World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ a list organised by renowned British magazine ‘Restaurant’. Joining Sovani in the plan to launch Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants were 12 leading restaurateurs, chefs and gourmands.  Says an excited Chef Sovani, “It’s a huge honour to be invited to discuss and plan such a big culinary hunt event in Asia and to share my ideas and thoughts with some best names in the business. I also look at my presence in this gathering as recognition of Indian cuisine, which has been my forte.”

Born and brought up in Mumbai, Chef Sovani always had a desire to do things differently from his early years. Starting his career as a kitchen management trainee, he trained under finest Indian cuisine chefs and also the famed French chef Roger Moncorte. Throughout his 30-year-old career, Sovani has not only relished the taste buds of his Asian patrons but has also been the chef for two Prime Minister’s of India Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi. He has served innumerable head of states, headed large 5 star hotels as executive chef & director of F & B. He has successfully opened restaurants in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore.

Chef Milind Sovani has performed and showcased his cuisine in over 10 countries worldwide. He has conducted Indian food promotions and festivals serving some of the best of Indian food ever produced at these events.

Best-known to develop some terrific Indian dishes – from traditional favourites to his own distinctive creations – Chef Sovani has also branched out in ‘Ready to Serve’ meals too. His ‘Base Sauces’ which can help even a novice to cook some great Indian food, is a huge hit all over the world!

Awards and Accolades for Chef Milind and his venture The Song of India, Singapore:

 

1: ‘Best Asian Cuisine Chef’ 2009-2011 awarded by ‘Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards’

2: The Michelin Green Guide Singapore has declared Milind Sovani as Singapore’s Culinary Trail Blaizer in 2008

  • King Of Kitchens Top 5 in South East Asia Region 2008-2010
  • Asian Chef top 5 in South East Asia Region 2008-2010 at HAPA.
  • Best Asian Cuisine chef 2006-07
  • Best Restaurant Of Singapore, at the Hospitality Asia Platinum Awards 2006-07(HAPA)
  • Chef of the Year 2005-2006 HAPA,
  • Best Asian Chef (finalist) – World Gourmet Summit in 2004 & 2005.
  • Best New Restaurant Of Singapore 2007, Wine n Dine
  • Best & most Innovative Menu 2007 , Wine n Dine, Singapore
  • Best Dish Award-Gold Medal- Singapore Gourmet Hunt 2006
  • Best Executive Chef Of India Top 3 , H&FS 2000,
  • Mercury Gold Award, Geneva 1992- Best In flight Meal concept
  • Asian Cuisine Chef finalist World Gourmet Summit 2010 www.worldgourmetsummit.com
  • ‘Asian Chef of the Year’ HAPA 2009-2011 series.
  • One of the top Chef – Singapore’s Culinary Trail Blaizer 2008 www.michelintravel.com
  • Chef of the Year & Asian chef of the Year – 2006, 2004 www.tourism-insider.com
  • Asian Chef finalist World Gourmet Summit – 2003, 2004, 2005
  • Gold Medal Winner at Gourmet Hunt Singapore in 2006 & 2004 www.cravesingapore.com
  • Best Executive Chef – India for 2001
  • Mercury Gold Award – Geneva 1994 for best In-flight meals
  • ‘The Song Of India’ Best Restaurant 2006
  • ‘Most innovative menu’ wine n Dine 2007

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