by Stephanie Williams
Inspired by world-renowned Michelin star chefs and determined to follow in their footsteps, Aura Hobart sous chef, Narendra Shetty is committed to showcasing the very best of Tasmania on a plate.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I was born and spent my childhood in the city of Mumbai , India. I started travelling at the age of 17 exploring different parts of India. My travels led me to the USA where I visited the city of Chicago. This is the place where my interest in being a cook developed. I now live in Hobart which is a blend of various cultures and impeccable cuisines to explore.
Tell us a little about your work. I am the sous chef at Aura Hobart. I overlook the kitchen team. My role is to enhance the food of Aura by showcasing seasonal and local Tasmanian produce.
Why did you decide to become a chef? I grew up eating my mother’s food which was the starting point for me to understand good food. I watched my mother cooking ingredients which were the best in their seasons. This led me to be curious about different seasonal ingredients and the taste that was best during those particular seasons. When I started to explore different parts of India I got to know how food played a very significant role in the life of people and their culture. Later on, during my visit to the USA, I was traveling in Chicago where I witnessed chef Grant Achatz working in his restaurant Alinea. I was Intrigued by the way he was putting in the effort to get the food out to his guests with passion and commitment. From that moment all I could think was to become a chef and work with the same commitment and passion.
What inspires you when creating a new dish or menu? Each local ingredient is unique and has its own significance which I explore to give justification to each dish that I create. Seasonal produce is always my focus to utilize the best of its flavours.
What is your favorite ingredient to use and why? Salt enhances the flavour of any dish when used wisely and in the right amount. Without salt no food will taste the same so therefore it is my favorite ingredient to use.
Do you cook at home? What is your go-to weeknight recipe? I really enjoy a nicely made bowl of ramen noodles. It is the most comforting food when made the right way utilizing the best of the produce. A simple dish like curd-rice (my mother’s favourite recipe) made with some left-over rice and yogurt tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves is soul food for me.
What do you love doing outside work? I love playing football, going out, trying local markets, and visit art galleries. I also enjoy trying different local eateries to understand more about local culture.
Who do you admire? Kobe Bryant (Mamba Mentality), my previous head chef Cian Mulholland, and my present executive chef Ajay Zalte. These three people have unique qualities of their own which inspires me to do better every day.
Favorite podcast or tv show? Chef’s Table on Netflix and a movie called Rudy.
Secret vice? I am never satisfied with what I have done and always keep on driving to do more and something better. When I create a dish, I keep on enhancing it day after day.
What are you reading now? Ikoyi: It is a book by chef Jeremy Chan on how he created his restaurant based on his unique flavour-driven ideas. It is about his vision and how it earned his two Michelin Stars and the World’s 50 best restaurants.
What was your first job? I was an industrial trainee at the Grand Hyatt in Goa, India.
What are your daily news/social media habits? I like to browse online about all the things happening in the culinary world.
Your favourite place (in Hobart) for…
Breakfast: Sunbear Cafe on Collins Street. Their haricot bean and parmesan stew with rosemary and walnuts is my current favorite.
Lunch: Kopitiam Singaporean Restaurant in Hobart. Their Singaporean laksa with seafood and a side of rice is very tasty and I visit them specially for this dish.
Dinner: Sonny Hobart: Everything on their menu is very satisfying and I love their wine options.
Favourite team? Arsenal and the Hobart Hurricanes.
Dream holiday destination? I would love to travel to more countries and gain more knowledge about different cultures and lifestyles, but my dream holiday destination will be Copenhagen to explore its food, culture, and wines.
Favourite Hobart secret? Yummy Inn (My late-night after-work favorite dinner spot). Their service and food are always consistent no matter how busy they are at the time of the day. I would like to mention that their ‘special fried rice’ is to die for.
Parting words? “Every time I fail, I fail better”. My philosophy is to learn from my mistakes and be a better human and Chef each day.