It's Not Just About The Food

Written by Gastronomer Lifestyle

March issue ‘Fine Dining’, 2023 

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Gastronomer Lifestyle talks to Haoma’s food and beverage director, Vishvas Sidana, about the significance of the “B” in F&B.

Heading into its sixth year, Haoma is a prime example of a finessed dining experience that is more than just about the food. For one thing, the restaurant of Chef Deepanker Khosla—known to many as Chef DK—takes great pride in its in-house herb garden and urban farm, from which it sources its vegetables and proteins with full transparency. These ingredients are transformed into dishes that are described by the chef as “neo-Indian”, something that is rooted in familiarity but is also guaranteed to take diners on a new adventure, and adding to that adventure is the element of well-considered beverage pairing.


As food and beverage director, Vishvas Sidana has been DK’s righthand man for the past five years, overseeing most of the operations at Haoma. His experience and deep interest in wines and spirits have also lent themselves to the role of creating the beverage accompaniments to DK’s plated creations. To do this, Vishvas begins by breaking down the flavour profiles of each of the dishes. Then, like a matchmaker, he couples them to complementary bottles in his vast repertoire, collected over the course of 17 years working in the hospitality industry.  

There’s a good deal of science involved, as chemical reactions altering or enhancing flavour must be taken into consideration. Nevertheless, at the end of the day, drink pairing is as much of an art as cooking itself, involving passion, from sourcing to selection.

“When I started my journey with wine, I was all over the place, reading directionless theories and trying to sell wines that made the most money,” Vishvas tell us. “But over the years, I have come to the conclusion that nothing is more important than supporting and celebrating the right farmers and people. Terroir on its own will not produce wine; it’s a person, like you or me, who loves what they do and acts as the single biggest catalyst with their passionate farming.” 

Born in Rajasthan, India, Vishvas’ career in wine began at The Oberoi New Delhi hotel, as a wine waiter. It was there that he caught the wine bug and subsequently got to train with one of the best sommeliers in the business, Angelo De Ioia. After working his way up and getting selected for a prestigious post-grad programme, he received opportunities to work in various luxury hotels across India, before moving to San Francisco for the Court of Master Sommeliers. While in US, he crossed paths with many masters in the field, including Jim Rollston of the three-Michelin starred Manresa, French Laundry alum Denis Kelly, and winemaker Rajat Parr, all of whom have inspired him to pursue a lifelong quest for the truth behind the grape juice.

Today, one of Vishvas’ favourite pairings at Haoma is the Equipo Navazos La Bota de Oloroso with Lobster Ghee Roast. The oxidative sherry reacts to the tomato, curry leaves, and mustard seeds to create a complex sweetness to the spicy dish. Another proud pairing of his is the Stephane Tissot Les Graviers Chardonnay, a wine that expresses burnt matchsticks and curry leaf aromas, with the Spinach Curry and Chicken, which creates an umami profile with a very long finish. “Since, I grew up in Delhi and was exposed to spices from a very young age, many of these pairings with the complex spices Chef DK uses just come naturally to me,” the F&B director tells us. With a new menu coming at Haoma, Vishvas teases that one of the pairings to look forward to is the Ohmine Junmai-Daiginjo 2 Grain sake with the Madras Crab Curry. 

When asked about the importance of beverage to the fine dining experience, Vishvas discusses the expectations of the customers. In a fine dining environment, diners are looking for out-of-the-ordinary experiences and for their senses to be dazzled. Everything matters, from the moment they make their reservation to the moment we bid them farewell. The drink pairing adds another layer of complexity and value to the whole experience. I always tell our guests that the pairing offers a third dimension of flavours profile, which they cannot experience by only having food—even if it is amazingly prepared.”

Besides food and drink, the most significant pairing Vishvas has discovered while working at Haoma is that of passion and business. “We are in the business of creating beautiful memories for our diner and doing so while operating on a zero-waste concept. This is something I have been super happy to learn and execute with Chef DK and the team.” 

What even is Fine Dining?

In the inaugural issue, we examine the question, ‘What even is Fine Dining? ’. Chefs Pichaya ‘Pam’ Utharntharm and Thitid ‘Ton’ Tassanakajohn, our cover stars, share their insights into Thai gastronomy and how they are reinventing the local culinary landscape. 

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