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Meet the chef: Ravi Rao, Lazzeez Southampton

Lazzeez chef Ravi Rao. Image: Lazzeez
Lazzeez chef Ravi Rao. Image: Lazzeez

Chef Ravi Rao, a Hotel Management graduate, graduated from the Institute of Hotel Management, India in 1999. He started his carrier in the culinary industry as a Kitchen Operations Trainee at Taj Group of Hotels, which is the most prestigious chain of luxury and business class hotels in India. After three years of rigorous training in different cuisines, he was promoted as Sous Chef in 2002.

He then moved to the UK to explore Indian cuisine with a western trend, bringing the authenticity of Indian cuisine. Ravi was recognition for serving food of excellent quality and establishing modern trends in Indian cuisine, winning Best Indian Restaurant award at the Cobra Good Food Awards, UK.

In 2004, Ravi joined Rasoi by Vineet Bhatia in London as Sous Chef. The restaurant was awarded 3AA Rossette in 2005 and 1-Michelin Star in 2006. He is now head chef at Lazzeez, Southampton.

What first inspired you to become a chef?

I was pursuing my graduation in Hotel Management, during which time I had to do six months' Industrial Exposure Training in a five star hotel. It was an integral part of the three-year graduation program. I was getting trained in Front Office, Food Production, Food and Beverage Service and House Keeping. I was determined to pursue my carrier in Food and Beverage Service. But, when I got the exposure of Kitchen Training, my perspective changed. I became fascinated with creativity, experiments blending spices with different kinds of food, creating innovative dishes and food styling. It was extremely motivational working with knowledgeable and experienced chefs. I got the exposure of world cuisines from different continents.

What is your proudest career moment?

It has been a long culinary journey for me working at five star hotels and prestigious restaurants in the UK, India and UAE. I have been awarded multiple accolades at regional and national levels with my culinary expertise over a period of 25 years.

One proud moment was being a part of a chefs team winning a Michelin Star for the restaurant Rasoi in London. I was really thrilled to receive the BBC Good Food Awards, Middle East for Best Indian Restaurant in Dubai. I was awarded Tiffin Cup, UK for winning the Chef Competition at the House of Commons, London and awarded Best Indian Restaurant at the Asian Curry Awards, UK. I also got the opportunity to curate dishes for the UK Prime Minister..

Great British Life: Lazzeez Southampton. Image: LazzeezLazzeez Southampton. Image: Lazzeez

What is your signature dish?

Gosht Dum Biryani, slow cooked tender lamb loin with aromatic basmati rice, cardamom, cinnamon and garam masala with a hint of saffron. The dum style of cooking is a unique, traditional way of preparing food in a copper vessel, where the meat is marinated with aromatic spices and then slow cooked in a sealed pot to keep the meat tender, moist and retain the aroma.

Where is your favourite place to eat in Hampshire?

Thaikhun Restaurant, Southampton. There is a good selection of dishes on the menu and the food tastes great. I personally have a real love of Thai food and it is my preferred cuisine when I go out and dine. I also enjoy Indian street food and am one for trying new and exciting recipes.

What is your favourite meal to cook at home?

At home, I like to cook and experiment with green vegetables. I try to eat healthily, so this offers a lighter and more balanced option. I also often make stuffed parathas with different fillings such as potato, radish and lamb mince. Parathas along with Puri Bhaji, Dosa and Upma are traditionally served as a typical Indian breakfast and are perfect for the weekends.

What is your culinary guilty pleasure?

It’s got to be a Peri Peri Chicken at Nando’s, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy it! I often take my family when I do not have the time or energy to cook at home. I also have a weakness for traditional Indian snacks like samosa chaat and kebabs.

What is your favourite Hampshire delicacy?

Chargrilled mixed grills with distinctive flavours, marinated with subtle spices and herbs, including tandoori lamb chops, chicken tikka, seekh kebab and tandoori king prawns. Everything on the plate is a delight and puts a smile on my face.

Lazzeez, The Avenue, Southampton

02380 190100

lazzeez.uk



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