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Top chefs bring Indian delicacies to HMS Lancaster

11 April 2023
One of India’s top chefs gave the galley team on HMS Lancaster a break – and served up Michelin-starred scran for the 200 sailors and marines.

Suresh Pillai – generally known in the culinary world simply as Chef Pillai – is one the world’s best known and respected Anglo-Indian chefs, who’s made his name in both Britain and his native land.

The 47-year-old former Masterchef: The Professionals contestant brought a team of ten chefs aboard the frigate when it became the first RN vessel to visit Kochi, in southwest India, in more than a dozen years.

The passageways of the Type 23 soon filled with the aroma of local spices as the chefs – who run a restaurant at the city’s five-star Le Méridien hotel set to work.

Chef Pillai was determined not to serve “steaks or fish and chips” but some of his authentic local “spicy, tangy and delicious signature dishes”: curries, breads, rice and salads.

The visit was organised by the British High Commission, who called on the chef’s restaurant earlier this year and selected the dishes to serve.

Their selection did not disappoint: there were thumbs up all round from the ship’s company for an authentic taste of India. 

It was a great pleasure to have Chef Pillai and his amazing team onboard Lancaster – the food they prepared was fabulous and was one of the highlights to our visits to Kochi.

Logistics Officer Lieutenant Commander Charlie Wilson

“It was a great pleasure to have Chef Pillai and his amazing team onboard Lancaster – the food they prepared was fabulous and was one of the highlights to our visits to Kochi,” said Logistics Officer Lieutenant Commander Charlie Wilson.

And the verdict from his weapon engineering colleague, Lt Cdr Jonah Jones was simply: “That was amazing… can I have seconds please?”

As for the top chef himself, he described the chance to cook for 200 service personnel as “nirvana in a warship” and an “out of the world experience” for the ship’s company. “One of the officers said in praise of the meal: This is Michelin-starred Indian cuisine,” Chef Pillai beamed. “Thanks to the Royal Navy and British High Commission for this amazing opportunity.”

In gratitude, his team was given a tour of the ship and a replica ship’s crest as a memento.

Lancaster visited Kochi after taking part in the annual Anglo-Indian naval exercise Konkan.

You can watch a video of the chefs’ day on Lancaster: https://www.instagram.com/reel/CqZnDn_J_bb/?igshid=YTgzYjQ4ZTY%3D

 

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