The Best Address

Executive Chef Rasika Venkatesa

Chef Rasika Venkatesa’s fondest memories are growing up in Chennai, India and cooking with her biggest inspiration, her grandmother Mythily Ramachandran. At a young age she learned the power of food and how something as simple as her grandmother’s cooking could bring her family together in joy, unity, and tradition.

After deciding to pursue a career in hospitality, Rasika graduated from Manipal University with a Bachelors in Hotel Management and immediately began working in kitchens around the world. Following her culinary dreams, Rasika moved to the United States and accepted a Commis Chef position at Thomas Keller’s Michelin 3 Star restaurant, ‘The French Laundry’. Her persistence, talent, and dedication led her to become Chef de Partie and gave her a deep understanding, appreciation, and love for fine dining.

Black Cod

Under world renowned Chef Mourad Lahlou’s guidance, Rasika became the Chef de Cuisine of Mourad in 2022, one of the youngest CDCs in the industry. In the same year, she won the Star Chefs – Rising Star Award in the San Francisco/Oakland area and has collaborated with chefs around the country in a variety of culinary events. She has also participated in the upcoming season of Top Chef USA set in Wisconsin.

Braised Beef Cheek, Szechuan Peppercorn, Coconut-Tamarind-Chile Arbol Purée, Fried Okra, Mashed Yucca, Beef Jus, Toasted Coconut

Chef Rasika is now focused on her own concept, “Mythily”, that is focused on re-inventing Tamil cuisine. She is currently traveling across Tamil Nadu to learn from the local communities to grow and evolve as a chef in the next chapter of her culinary journey.

Chef Rasika’s cuisine is a blend of heritage South Indian flavors from Tamil Nadu with contemporary skills and techniques that she has learnt over time at different restaurants she has worked in. She likes a playful blend of flavors but also stays true to what Tamil cuisine means to her. Local farmers, vendors and seasonality also play a big role in Rasika’s culmination of dishes and she is a big promoter of sustainable culinary practices.

pakoda (Photography by Eric Vitalie)

Do you have a favourite time of the year or set of ingredients that you look forward to working with?

Although I love working with seasonal ingredients all throughout the year, I do love working with summer produce a lot! It obviously differs from location to location. In California, the stone fruit, melons and variety of tomatoes are ingredients I love working with. In India, mangoes, jamuns and gourds are always a treat to work with in the summer season.

What would you do if you weren’t a chef?

If I wasn’t a chef, I’d definitely try my hand at being a professional musician. I am classically trained in the piano and violin, so maybe that.

idly (photography by Eric Vitalie)

 Do your personal preferences influence the menu at all?

My personal preferences definitely play a big factor on menus I create for myself or as part of a restaurant. I always like to introduce flavors i am familiar in dishes that I create. It’s how you always cook honestly.

 What do you think is the most over-hyped food trend currently?

According to me the most over-hyped food trend currently would be ‘Sustainable Cooking’. I feel like that trend is promoted even if it’s not properly followed by a restaurant or chef.

Banana Leaf-steamed Halibut, Brown Butter Couscous, Butter-poached Morels, Conserved Trumpet Mushrooms, Mushroom Gravy, Cranberry, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Preserved Lemon

When are you happiest?

I am most happiest when I’m eating my grandma’s food!

When you’re not in the kitchen where can you be found?

You can find me on a hiking trail in the mountains or the forest. I love being outdoors!

short rib (photography by Eric Vitalie)

Where is your favourite place to dine?

I think the answer to that question keeps changing depending on how often you go out to eat and where you eat. For me right now, its a taco truck in Jackson Heights in New York that has amazing birria tacos called Birria Landia.

What’s your favourite takeaway or comfort food?

My favorite comfort food will always be saadhum (curd rice) with pickle and appallam.

What makes the local food scene so exciting?

It’s always exciting to be able to showcase who you are as a chef and your background through food in whichever local community you’re in. It’s also exciting to work and collaborate with other chefs in the community and support each other in what we do!

Early Girl and Sungold Tomatoes, Cherries, Green Tomatoes, Panache Figs, Serpin Cucumber, Horseradish, Purslane, Urfa Biber, Puffed Rice

Which is the dish you’ve created that you are most proud of and why?

I don’t think us chefs would ever serve a dish to customers that we aren’t proud of! It’s all about the ethics and integrity of how we view food! It’s also important to love eating your own food. There are multiple dishes that I’ve created that I absolutely love, one of them being – Nandu ‘Crab’ Rasam with a Japanese inspired egg custard and puffed rice. This is a fusion between Tamil and Japanese cuisines which is how I love to cook as well.


 You’re having friends over for dinner tonight. What’s on the table?

Biryani, there always has to be biryani!

 Name your favourite city that has it all: food, culture, and nightlife.

New York City has it all!

Mysore Paak, Melon and Preserved Lemon Ice Cream, Compressed Honeydew

Can you tell us more about the cuisine at your restaurants?

I’m classically trained in French and Moroccan cuisines and I grew up on South Indian cuisine. So my personal cuisine is a blend of techniques I’ve learnt in various restaurants and what I grew up with and i call it ‘Progressive Tamil Cuisine’.


A play on Indian and Moroccan cuisine.

Banana Steamed Halbut with Mushroom Espuma and Honey Blistered Cranberries

Banana Leaf-steamed Halibut, Brown Butter Couscous, Butter-poached Morels, Conserved Trumpet Mushrooms, Mushroom Gravy, Cranberry, Spiced Pumpkin Seeds, Preserved Lemon


Mushroom Espuma:
Yield: 2.5 kilograms
250 grams butter
220 grams thinly sliced shallots
150 grams thinly sliced garlic
680 grams roughly chopped maitake
200 grams roughly chopped king oyster mushrooms
24 grams harissa powder
12 grams ground coriander
65 grams dried porcini powder
130 grams cabernet sauvignon vinegar
Vegetable stock
1 gallon heavy cream
10 grams egg yolks
20 grams kosher salt

Honey-blistered Cranberries:
Yield: 4 kilograms
4 sticks cinnamon
5 grams allspice berries
5 grams star anise
10 grams black peppercorns
5 pounds honey
1 kilogram fresh cranberries

Harissa-spiced Pepitas:
Yield: 600 grams
Oil for deep frying
500 grams pumpkin seeds
30 grams harissa powder
15 grams salt

Butter-braised Morels:
Yield: 900 grams
1 pound butter
150 grams leeks, cut into roundels
10 grams salt
1 pound morels

King Trumpet Mushrooms:
Yield: 700 grams
3 bay leaves
10 grams thyme
2 sprigs oregano
10 grams coriander seeds
2 Ramnad Chillies
400 milliliters Sherry Vinegar from Spain
2 kilograms extra virgin olive oil
75 grams salt
2 pounds segmented king trumpet mushrooms

Steamed Halibut:
Yield: 1 serving
50 grams salt
One 5-ounce halibut filet
1 banana leaf
1 stick cinnamon, smoked
2 star anise, smoked
2 Ramnad Chillies, smoked
2 bay leaves

To Assemble and Serve:
Yield: 1 serving
Cooked couscous
Chopped preserved lemon
Borage flowers


For the Mushroom Espuma:
In a pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add shallots and garlic and cook until soft and translucent. Add chopped mushrooms, harissa, coriander, and porcini powder. Cook down. Deglaze with vinegar and stock, then continue to cook until au sec. Add cream and reduce by half. Drain through a perforated hotel pan set over a regular hotel pan. Working in 2 batches, add the solids to a Vitamix blender and purée, adding the mushroom liquid as needed. Add egg yolks and blend to combine. Pass through a chinois. Season with salt. Transfer to a container and reserve.

For the Honey-blistered Cranberries:
Using a cheesecloth and butchers twine, wrap spices and bay leaves in a sachet. Place in a pot and add honey and 100 grams water. Bring to a boil. Place cranberries in a 4-inch-deep hotel pan. Pour the honey mixture over the cranberries. Submerge with a hotel pan cooling rack, then cover with parchment to avoid any foreign objects from falling into the liquid. Let cool at room temperature. Distribute the cranberries and liquid to quart containers. Reserve at room temperature. Liquid can be reused up to 3 times.

For the Harissa-spiced Pepitas:
Heat a deep fryer to 350°F. Add pumpkin seeds and fry until golden brown. Place on a paper-towel-lined sheet tray. Add harissa and salt. Toss to coat. Let sit to allow oil to drain. Distribute to pint containers with silica gel packs. Reserve at room temperature.

For the Butter-braised Morels:
In a pot over medium heat, melt butter. Add leeks and salt. Reduce heat to low, then add morels. Let poach 10 minutes, lightly stirring until morels are tender but still have a bite. Let cool at room temperature. Reserve in butter.

For the King Trumpet Mushrooms:
In a pot over medium heat, combine herbs, seeds, chiles, vinegar, olive oil, and salt. Bring to 170°F. Add mushrooms and poach 3 to 4 minutes, without letting the temperature exceed 170°F. Remove from heat and let cool. Distribute mushrooms and poaching liquid to airtight containers and reserve. Mushroom poaching liquid can be reused.

For the Steamed Halibut:
In a nonreactive container, dissolve salt in 500 grams warm water. Let cool completely. Add halibut to the saltwater and let brine 30 minutes. Cut the banana leaf so it’s 4 inches larger than the halibut. Brush it against the stovetop to soften. Place the halibut, whole spices, and bay leaves in the middle of the leaf, then fold over like you’re wrapping a present. Tie with butcher’s twine. Place in a steamer and steam 7 to 9 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 140°F to 145°F.

To Assemble and Serve:
In a mixing bowl, mix to combine couscous with preserved lemon. Transfer to a small serving bowl and set aside. In a pan over low flame, heat 3 Butter-braised Morels and 3 King Trumpet Mushrooms until warmed through. Set aside.  Fill a cream-whipping canister with 1 quart Mushroom Espuma; charge twice. Place in a warm water bath and set aside. Unwrap Steamed Halibut and remove whole spices. Place the Steamed Halibut in the center of a shallow serving bowl. Place the warm mushrooms on top of and around the Steamed Halibut. Cover with the whipped Mushroom Espuma, creating a veil over the Steamed Halibut. Garnish with borage, 1 spoonful Honey-blistered Cranberries, and a sprinkle of Harissa-spiced Pepitas.



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