Jagdeep Negi grew up in India, a country where vibrant and flavorful cuisine is a part of everyday life. Negi, who is the lead chef at Spice & Ice Lounge & Restaurant in Dubai, developed a passion for cooking in his homeland and more specifically, combining unique flavor profiles and textures to create one of a kind dishes inspired by his native India.
Spice & Ice is set to revolutionize Dubai’s dining scene with an eclectic assortment of contemporary Indian-themed dishes prepared using molecular gastronomy & liquid nitrogen served amidst a funky, urban lounge-style ambience in bustling Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Debuting in January 2016, Spice & Ice features culinary cues from the East, specializing in modern Indian food as well as wider Pan-Asian cuisine, including innovative creations such as chicken served on a mango carpaccio and asparagus korma infused with miso paste & white wine.
With years of experience to boost him impressive resume, Jagdeep Negi has served with some of the most premier chefs and restaurants in the business. Chef Negi’s previous roles include: Chef at the Oberoi Hotel in Delhi, and more recently, Chef at Rasoi by Chef Vineet Bhatia at Hotel Mandarin Oriental in Switzerland. Chef Vineet Bhatia is one of a handful of Indian chefs whose restaurants have been awarded the world class Michilen Star.
From his background and time spent working alongside one of India’ most renowned chefs, Chef Negi’s skill-set has allowed him to specialize in modern Indian cuisine.
Dr. Nasrine Abushakra discussed his new role, kitchen essentials and the path that brought him to Dubai with Chef Jagdeep Negi of Spice & Ice Lounge and Restaurant.
Tell us about your personal experience of branching out here in the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates.
This is my first time living in the Middle East and I am very excited to be taking on a new challenge. Dubai is a global hub, with five star hotels throughout the city, thousands of restaurants and engaging dining concepts, there is so much going on. It is exciting and challenging at the same time. Nevertheless, I am looking forward to sharing my take on progressive Indian cuisine with Dubai.
Why did you decide to open here in the Middle East?
Dubai is a dynamic and growing market. The city attracts people from different countries and cultural backgrounds from all over the world that want to try different cuisines. It’s becoming an international city and within every great city there is a huge selection of offerings on the culinary scene. I have to say, I am a firm believer of food and the experience of dining out tying a city together and that is exactly what is happening here in Dubai. We are thrilled to be a part of it.
Anand Radia, the owner, is the driving force behind Spice & Ice, and was the one who decided to open in Dubai. With a track record of successful F&B ventures, Anand has a keen understanding of the region and market and knew that Dubai would welcome a concept like Spice & Ice.
For those not familiar with Spice & Ice, what region is your culinary modeled after?
My culinary style is highly influenced by Asian cuisine. I take inspiration from both East and South East Asia, including India, Thailand, and Sri Lanka. I like the combination of flavors, which are each unique to the country they are from.
We have combined traditional dishes with molecular cooking- giving a very new and unexpected twist on some classics. It is a treat for all the sense.
From my travels, I fell in love with the techniques and skills used in each country, especially in eastern Asian countries like Japan and wanted to bring those flavors to the restaurant. We have created a menu that has dishes from all over the continent with offerings, like Katsu curry from Japan, a curry unique to Japan, but it’s a great fit for our menu and pairs well with dishes from South East Asian inspired dishes like Masala Soda Soft Shell Crab.
What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
As I am new to the region, I am still discovering what is has to offer from a culinary standpoint. I love the pandora’s box of cuisines and styles the city has to offer and the juxtaposition of street food to fine dining. The food really reflects the city.
When you manage to find a little time to step away from Spice & Ice, what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
In my free time I love watching cricket matches and cooking shows. I love exploring and trying new concepts around the city, but my favorite cuisine has to be Indian.
What is your favorite restaurant, besides your own?
Apart from Spice & Ice I would recommend my favorite place to dine at is Rasoi in Geneva, Switzerland. As far as Dubai is concerned, Spice & Ice will certainly become my favorite.
If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would have been?
If I had not pursued a career in the kitchen, I probably would have joined the Indian Army and followed in my father’s footsteps.
What three ingredients you MUST have in your kitchen?
Chilli, salt and garlic, I can’t live (cook) without them!
Are you launching any new projects in the near future that you’d like to share with us?
I would like to work on my regional cuisine (Uttaratkhand) from India. You never know, maybe in the near future I will have my own cookbook.
What has been your inspiration and what dishes should readers definitely try?
I believe in taking inspiration from all other cuisines and try to impart those flavors in my cuisine. In my past I have experimented with Japanese ingredients to give a fusion in Indian food. I do have plans to try out something similar here and explore the local spices available and trying it out with Indian food.
I would strongly recommend you to try out my signature dishes, especially Asparagus Korma, Chili garlic lamb chop, Mango chicken and Coconut chili prawn. These recipes are my inspiration taken from my past experience. I would like to welcome you all from the core of my heart to experience this twist on modern Indian food.