Over the years, I’ve written quite a bit about The Pasta Bowl Company. I’ve reviewed it on social media, and it is one of my favourite places to eat in the city of Gurgaon, India – where I live.
The Pasta Bowl Company has over the years become a sort of a comfort destination; I have a fair idea of what to expect in terms of the food – they change the menu seasonally, but the basics remain the same, the ambiance is cozy, the staff friendly, and sometimes that’s exactly what I am looking for when going out for a meal.
Being a “supporter” of anything, let alone a restaurant, comes with its own set of problems. For example, since I recommend the restaurant to so many, if someone goes to The Pasta Bowl Company and they don’t like the food, guess what, I get a message even before the chef in the kitchen is made aware of it (if at all he is).
Here’s the thing about food though; it varies, everywhere. A restaurant can have a bad day, the chef can have other things on his/her mind while preparing your food, someone somewhere messed up, we’re human, they’re human, and it happens. There have been days when I’ve not enjoyed a dish or two, but then to find a place where one likes each and everything, all the time, is pretty darn impossible.
The idea is to try and be consistent with the food and the thought behind it, to be experimental at times, and whether something works out or not, the challenge is to keep on going. The Pasta Bowl Company in my experience is exactly that.
Now, as customer, and a loyal one at that, for close to four years, means I do get a little assertive and place a demand here or there on them from time to time – you know, to keep them on their toes – like when the last time I had a desire for pasta in some sort of a broth and messaged them asking if they could whip up something for me to satiate my craving – which, mind you, they did and it was delicious.
Another time, I got together with a local photography group and converted our lunch into a food photography session where the chef made us a few extra “photographable” dishes.
Being a food blogger, I’m used to taking photos of food – a few too many if you ask me – so when I had the opportunity instead to enter the inner sanctum of the restaurant – the kitchen – I was in it before anyone could know what was happening. For me that was the highlight of the day, being able to watch and photograph the chef and his staff in action, and in a weird way it made me want to enter more kitchens and experience the chaos that enthralls those that work in them.
Standing inside an active kitchen of a fairly busy restaurant is a completely different experience. Even though The Pasta Bowl Company has an open kitchen and guests are privy to the preparations beforehand, being in the thick of things is exhilarating.
The first thing that strikes is the smell. It’s a lot stronger and tickles the nostrils in the right way. There’s a mad rush too, cramped space, it’s difficult to stand in one place for too long before being asked to shift – which you must unless getting burnt or knocked down is something you’re looking forward to.
Worst of all, it’s bloody tempting considering there was a humongous pot full of fresh pasta sauce being made right next to me and all I could think about was dipping my finger in it to have a taste – I didn’t, rest assure.
The passion for food that comes across in the kitchen, the determination, the focus that is required is truly applaud worthy. Everyone, whenever they get a chance should spend a few minutes in the kitchen of a restaurant – especially one where a lot of the food is made fresh daily – to better understand the anxiety and pressure the staff works under. There’s a sword that hangs over any establishment that takes food seriously and that’s to send out the perfect food. It’s a job that’s full of concern and detail, every dish needs to be perfect enough to be appreciated and liked, because God forbid it comes back, which could mean disaster on so many levels.
No disasters on that day at least, the food was great as always to the extent that I even ended up eating some of the “uncooked” dishes that were presented just for photography sake. The surprise on the chef’s face when he realized that we had eaten the partially cooked “incomplete” dish was priceless.
“But it wasn’t even cooked properly” was all he could say.
As the day progressed there was a sense of casualness and merriment in the air and so we managed to get Chef Om to speak up about his life, growing up, the ingredients he specially imports, his passion for food, and of course the origins of the restaurant and what the future holds in a very candid and telling interview.