For Mridul Bhatt, the new executive chef at the Fairmont Macdonald, cooking in the hotel industry has opened a world of possibilities. After earning a degree in hotel management, Bhatt worked in hotel kitchens in India, Vancouver, and now Edmonton.
“When you work in a stand-alone restaurant, you’re caught up in the one theme or one direction. The beauty of working in a hotel is you’re basically there to cross boundaries,” says Bhatt. “Travel is part of my experience, and the hotel gives me the chance to apply that knowledge and create that experience for the guest.” In his new role, Bhatt has started to redirect the Fairmont’s menus—like those in the Harvest Room and the Confederation Lounge—to include more diverse flavours, such as Italian, Mexican, and Indian dishes. “We’re travelling the globe when it comes to food,” he says. He notes that it also reflects the diversity found in Edmonton’s communities, which he is further trying to honour in themed dinners in a new Classic Dining Series.
“In North America, people usually prefer to go to a stand-alone restaurant. But back in Asia, if you want good food, people usually go to a hotel,” he explains. “The restaurant concept is great here and many people may feel like they won’t be able to get what they want from a hotel. We thought of breaking that mentality.” The team at the Fairmont is excited for the new challenges, and Bhatt hopes to pass along the spark and confidence his own mentor in India inspired in him many years ago.
Although he’s still fairly new to the city, Bhatt already loves the beautiful capital. “Edmonton is a city of festivals. And where there are more festivals, there’s more food. So look out for local stuff,” he advises. He’s already found a few favourite dining spots, including Tres Carnales and RGE RD.