Alex McCoy, the chef and co-owner of Duke’s Grocery, really doesn’t like to make a dish unless he’s traveled to its country of origin.
“You can go online right now, and if you want to learn how to make Indian food, you could spend hours and hours and hours watching videos and tutorials and reading up about it,” McCoy said.
“Twenty years ago, in order to do the same, you would either have to live in India or work with an Indian chef,” he told me one recent sunny afternoon while sitting on the patio of his East London-inspired bar and restaurant.
McCoy believes there is an element of authenticity to the latter approach, which he takes very seriously. For example, the young chef very much enjoys papaya salad, and perfected his own after travels to Thailand. While anyone may look up how to make a papaya salad, it’s a totally different experience to experience the food directly from a street vendor who has lived with the dish her entire life and who has made it in front of you, he said.