Monday, 23 January 2012

Spotlight : Degustation

          Degustation menus in India gained popularity post the boom in live-kitchen concepts which took the culinary industry by storm. In other words degustation is succeeded by live cooking or interactive cooking.

Once the chefs started getting visible in restaurants it bettered the trust levels among diners. As chefs started communicating and interacting and were more at ease in front of diners they in turn found confidence to leave the hassles about deciding their meals to the elegant white caps. The clients understood that the success ratio of their meal experience was greater when they left their menus to the chefs to decide than to the restaurant staffer. It was a much safer proposition.

The French had certain rules laid down about tasting menus which we should look at first ; 
  • The sequence of courses in a degustation menu should be such that earlier  dishes do not overpower those that follow.
  • Courses should compliment and flatter each other.
  • Every course should be generous enough in size that diners do not feel frustrated, but no course should be so heavy or filling that it does not leave appetite for those to follow.
  • Every dish offered should be so good that guests marvel over its virtuosity.
  • Despite the number of courses served, at the end of the meal no guest should feel they have eaten too much.
Degustation menus pose a serious challenge to a chef, as he needs to deliver greater number of dishes each with its own individuality intact in the same given time. The menus are acid test for a chefs versatility, organisational capabilities and his artistry.

The concept  offers an exquisite advantage to diners, for they give an opportunity in a single meal to sample a broad range of preparations offered instead of those huge portions which just fill you up and makes you feel uncomfortable.

We associate eating a number of exclusive dishes to festivities and grandeur. In that sense degustation menus are a feast. It also shows the efforts which has gone behind every handcrafted preparation which comes to you during the meal. It does give a sense of being pampered.

In real terms, degustation is a chefs forte, it is a chefs endorsement to your meal. The menus have actually evolved with time. They are a result of concerted efforts put in by chefs over the period of time to analyse diner needs, behaviour, preferences and tastes. The menus also take into account life style changes, social standings, exclusivity, texture, presentability, balance and all the parameters which govern a impeccable dining experience. 

At some point of time chefs marketed their creations with tasting menus. The menus used to be used as samplers for the menu for the coming season, so that clients could taste the food and reserve their tables well in advance. Some chefs use their tasting menus like a trailer to the movie block-buster. Now chefs use the menus as their signature creations and to stamp their authority.

Menu de Degustation , which was rarely known in India, say about five to six years back have come as a great refresher and as a complete new dining-out proposition.

The menu comprises of small and unforgettable courses. You would have eaten as many as ten or twelve different preparations in a single meal.  No one wants to eat till their neck but all wants to taste the best and yet miss nothing. The small quantities of the tasting menus spell exclusivity in every bite and are explosions of flavour in your palette.

By : Devraj Halder

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