Would you believe me if I told you that Nigella Lawson - the biggest celebrity chef in the world - told us that the dishes she was sharing had no place in a professional kitchen!
"The dishes that I am sharing with you, I will admit, have probably no place in a restaurant with a chef and a team as professional and splendid" -
However, she adds,
"But sometimes the simple has its own power." - Nigella Lawson, Celebrity Chef, Author and Presenter
Nigella is right. The simplicity of her cooking *is* what makes it so powerful. The ingredients she used were healthy, each meal cooked by her so wholesome. Now, I would have said more, but after a five-course meal, she’s left my tongue.. well... tongue-tied!
Here’s what happened: American Express invited its Centurion cardmembers to a private lunch hosted by Nigella Lawson. And the menu looked something like this:
Statutory Warning: Wagging tongues and a severe FOMO could be witnessed during the course of this!
Pre Course: Turkish Eggs
“Everything mingles together so well,” muses Nigella as she talks about the dish. And this perfect mingling is what I too observe first hand. Though the dish has diverse ingredients like greek yogurt, dill, and egg, it all comes together as a perfect symphony.
While normally Nigella recommends turkish eggs as a breakfast dish, I can safely report that its flavours were as wondrous in the afternoon as well!
Starter: Salmon and Pumpkin Seed Salad
What was not to like when salmon, watercress and pumpkin seeds came together to alternatively surprise my tongue with their soft and crunchy selves?
On a side note, I have vowed never to underestimate the power of pumpkin seeds to add drama to a salad.
Main Course: Chicken with Bitter Orange and Fennel
I never thought chicken could be tangy, well roasted... and....well... also feel super light. But now I know, where’s a Nigella, there’s a way.
The Dessert: Summer Pavlova
Light and breezy, the pavlova can remind you of the summer sun even more directly than its name suggests.
Nigella’s First Time in India
Even though American Express has got Michelin star chefs to India before, for the first time they experimented with a home cook.
“Sometimes you do things a little bit more differently. She’s the world’s most renowned chef, why would American Express not take the vantage point?,” says American Express CEO Manoj Adlakha. But from the audience responses, Manoj is certain that the bet has paid off.
“This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for someone to interact with Nigella, not only to eat her food but also understand her thought process.” he says.
Similar to Delhi, Nigella Lawson also curated a private lunch for Amex Cardmembers in Mumbai, which is in line with American Express’ focus on creating special events to provide its Card members with exclusive access to the best restaurants and chefs.
“Interacting with the chef, understanding their thought process, those are experiences that money can’t buy,” says Manoj.
Besides events, Amex through its Global Dining Collection also offers special access to reservations and customized experiences with world-renowned chefs and exclusive culinary events across the world.
Last year, some of the most popular dining destinations for its premium Cardmembers from India were Zuma, Dubai, Park Chinois, London, Novikov (Asian) in London and Gaggan in Bangkok.
As Manoj says, “Fine dining is not going to go away. But we keep it restricted and that’s what also creates its own charm.”
Coming back to the charming Nigella event though, I don’t quite understand what Nigella had said in the beginning. Of her food not belonging in a restaurant kitchen. Because if food is a story, then she is a masterful author of it.
Each bite out of her ‘simple’ recipes left my head feeling breezy and light... just like the first few sips of beer.
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