First-year Anniversary Celebrations
Jonathans Kitchen, Hyderabad
"Gourmet Passport" when launched same time last year was one of a kind dining experience venture which brought in top brands in F & B sector to be reachable to a bigger and broader consumer base which otherwise strategically was mostly to upper class mainly. Its digital media presence was to bring in exciting offers and combo coupons at various star dining properties were new to many cities but brought in a breath of fresh air in competitive dining offerings. What started off as a website service soon found its way into the smartphone application which by now we all know is a de facto now for any digital media & business and catered such amazing offers and experiences over key cities - Delhi NCR, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai. The Gourmet Passport fine dining app followed the success of the Gourmet Passport book which has won many followers over the past 3 editions. In the app, they kept the original proposition which is always Buy 1 Get 1 Free – just imagine the savings! Once you purchase our Max Pack you can avail of the fantastic offers for a full year. You can even refer your friends and family and earn cash back for future purchases.
A step back and want to speak a few lines about its founder Mr. Rocky Mohan. Fondly known as Rocky (Rakesh) Mohan, he is the country’s leading liquor baron for keeping alive the legacy of India’s best-loved drink, Old Monk Rum, but his love for food and fine-dining does not let him rest on his laurels. Driven by his limitless ambition and thirst for innovation, he is now the man behind the Gourmet Passport fine-dining app – a mobile platform that makes it easy for aspirational diners to discover top-rated fine-dining, 5-star, and standalone restaurants/bars in Delhi NCR and Mumbai on the go! As the founder, Rocky spearheads and oversees the brand’s strategy and growth plans. An alumnus of Hindu College (DU), Rocky’s tryst with food began in 1997 when he wrote his first cookbook ‘The Art of Indian Cuisine’. In 2000, he followed it up by starting "ZilaKebabpur", a chain of eateries aimed at reviving heritage Indian cuisine, in a quick service format. The ardent foodie then established the Delhi Gourmet Club, followed by Mumbai and Bangalore through which he curates exclusive dinners which are the talk of the town. Rocky then launched a Gourmet Passport booklet, which won many followers over three editions. It was the success garnered by the booklet that motivated Rocky to take this novel approach onto a digital medium with the Gourmet Passport app.
Mr. Rocky Mohan, ranked amongst the 50 most influential people in the food industry in India, founder of the Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Kolkata, and Chennai Gourmet Club, and jury member for Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants. Rocky's love for food and fine dining has been reflected in his regular newspaper columns, TV appearances with International celebrity chefs, and award-winning cookbooks. He has also been honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the liquor industry.
No matter of all these accolades, I personally have followed him and has been an inspiration to me about how one should keep learning and exploring our own rich heritage of food culture and history and keep ourselves up-to-date. Attached to such a delicious F & B sector is out of passion but to do it at this elegant level needs much more than passion and to me, he exemplifies that till date and, to be frank, it was more of a FAN-BOY moment when I got to finally meet him on this first anniversary occasion of Gourmet Passport.
Gourmet passport recently celebrated 1st year anniversary and they were planning one of a kind celebrations in each city in unique ways and they finally landed in the City of Nizams. I was invited to be part of media and food bloggers to be part of this festive event and they couldn't have picked a better location than "JONATHAN'S KITCHEN" in Gachibowli. Have been an ardent fan of their fine dining creations and under Chef's Vijay Bhaskar Reddy's helm and Raashid Ali's innovative freedom to his team, I knew this would be one of a kind event for sure and I'm sure food would be of key focus here.
As I entered the venue, the arrangement was done in the PDR section and one glance, it was more than elegant. The rich red roses garnishing the table, and wine bottles all along the table to set the mood for the night, it was all magical. The menu for the night along with fine dining set up was all sizzling and inviting. On quick brief of the night's plan, the entire gathering moved to Komatose for some drinks and chilling out. We indeed got introduced to Mr. Rocky Mohan, the man himself and got settled in to have some amazing cocktails. We started off with my favorite, GnT - Gin & Tonic which I can have it anywhere anytime. Once I got the hang of it, I just continued on the same and appetizers started to flow in.
Dishes started flowing and I could see some personal favorites from their last menu re-vamp showing up. My top pick was obviously the pistachio crusted "BAKED BRIE" with walnut relish. This classic never gets old to me and even this time, its flavors were spot on. Dont miss it when dining here."ASPARAGUS FRITTA" with hollandaise sauce was super delicious and the perfect crunch made it all the more delicious. "FRIED TORTELLINI" unfortunately was too dry and little bland for my liking. "OSHINAKE NIGIRI" with wasabi and soy sauce not only treated our eyes but also flavor buds with brilliant flavors.
"CURRY LEAF HERB CRUSTED PRAWNS" served with tamarind chili reduction was another favorite with just a small point to note. The curry crust was too thick to relish the prawns by themselves but that chili tamarind reduction was too perfect that the overall dish turned DELISH. "CILANTRO CHICKEN FINGERS" with chipotle mayo turned an OK affair while "SALMON GRAVLAX" with sour cream turned to be another marvel. The caviar was a bit salty but with the fresh salmon, the balance was delicious.
Amidst all of these, there were summer friendly cocktails like vodka based LUST, GnT with Grape Fruit, gin-based PINK PROSECCO and much more. The giggles - fun chats - delicious food made us spend a good quality time amongst discussions on food and trends. When we thought we are done, the GP Hyderabad team surprised us to move us back to Jonathan's kitchen for entrees and desserts. We literally were transported to another whole menu #2 experience for the night.
As we sat down for dinner course #2, Mr. Rocky Mohan toasted us for the celebrations of 1-year completion of Gourmet Passport and announced next steps for Gourmet Passport in upcoming years including "DINE WITH ROCKY" series and also making regional based collabs and events to buzz on regularly in social media. Gourmet Passport will run under the regional brand In-charge and Shivani Mohan will be for our Hyderabad. After the success speech, we started to dine on the JK menu which was a proper 5-course setup.
We started off with "MINESTRONE ALLA GAMBERI" the soup was served in an elegant style on the table and it was delicious and bit hot for already scorching summer but flavors did the justice. Then for the salads, I had to go their "HEIRLOOM TOMATO BURRATA". This served with arugula, pine nuts, croutons, and basil pesto was refreshing but I felt I have had better burrata in my previous visits. Nevertheless, the freshness from the veg made the dish enjoyable.
Then came my moment of truth to relish one of the top-notch creations, "CHATEAUBRIAND". If you don't know food-coma or not experienced it, try this dish in JK according to your meat preference and you can relate to it. My favorite is medium-rare cut. Served with wilted spinach, marinated gucci mushrooms, horse radish and bearnaise, this dish is all about soul connection. That bit over salty Gucci and the smooth steak by itself with the sauce is just pure gastronomic experience. Loved it to the core and I highly recommend this dish for any steak lover. The trial dish which would eventually get into their upcoming new menu was "CURRIED LAMB SHANKS" . The curry and the perfect balance of spices were evident on the first bite and the cook on that shanks ufff, the meat and the rendering fat just was almost melty and just fell off the bones. This dish is going to be a huge hit considering the spice levels adapts to Hyderabadi liking. Another star dish in making.
When it comes to desserts, JK always excels in terms of creativity and unique fusion experiments. Each creation would have different texture and flavor profiles for you to relish beyond your first bite and after having their desserts for the evening, I could say THEY DO IT IN STYLE !!!!. "WHITE & DARK CHOCOLATE PRALINE GANACHE ON NUTTY BAR" is everybody's chocolate dream. Perfect made ganache over a super-crunchy super rich nutty base made it one of the best hearty and heavy desserts for the night. Next came in "ALPHONSO SORBET", with summer and mango season in peak, this was a no brainer for someone like Chef Vijay. The sorbet as such tasted fantastic but I personally felt Himayat mangos would have elevated the dish to whole another level. The star and shocker of the night came in the form of "OLD MONK GELATO". Yes, you heard it right, a dessert with old monk. It's really tough to strike off the strong flavor and aroma of old monk and make it sweet to be a dessert but they have nailed it. The simple and not-so-fancy looking gelato over a bed of caramel crunch bits was just pure bliss. The chillness and evident old monk flavor infused gelato with the caramel crumbles was pure magic. TASTE IT TO BELIEVE IT !!!! I'm not kidding everyone who tasted it went GAGA over it. Raashid Bhai, pls keep this like forever like your BAKED BRIE !!!!
All said and done, I know the amount of hard work and preparations done to make this event happens in its state from planning to execution, A big shout out to Rashid Ali, Chef Vijay Bhaskar Reddy and their brigade of kitchen team and of course not to mention the relentless service staff who kept moving on like forever to keep us engaged with hearty conversations and delicious food non-stop. A thank you alone won't do justice. In spite of a few technical hiccups, I felt the team pulled off a winner for sure.
A fan moment, of course, was to click with Mr. Rocky Mohan himself and listening to his tales of culinary experiences which makes you feel, that's exactly how I want to lead years to come as a true foodie, and his interpretations on modern-day culinary trends. A huge thanks to Team of Gourmet Passport, Mr. Rocky Mohan, Ms. Shivani Mohan, Mr. Aslam Gafoor & Ms. Chandni Anzar who made this event this memorable and making it one of the best dining experiences in recent times. The night couldn't have ended better for me than with clicking with the 2 gentlemen for the night, Mr. Rocky Mohan and Mr. Raashid Ali.