What is the name of the current restaurant you work at and how long have you worked there?
We operate four restaurants The Main being Café Spice Namasté, Two Mr Todiwala’s Kitchens and the last Mr Todiwala’s Petiscos. Café Spice Namasté is now in its 25th Year of operations.
Give a brief overview of your career.
Started life in the Kitchens of The Taj Mahal Hotel in Bombay, Rose to become Corporate Exec Chef for three resort properties in Goa owned by The Taj Group. Left the group Joined a friend to open a restaurant in the City of Poona. Left India came to Britain in end 1991 and started to work for someone else running their restaurant. Met Michael Gottlieb if Smollensky’s Fame and opened Café Spice Namasté in November 1995.
Where did you learn your skills/culinary education?
In a polytechnic in Bombay India. Most Skills were learnt on the job over the years and primary knife skills from my mother.
What do you enjoy most about being a chef?
The freedom to create, the satisfaction of making people happy, the satisfaction of sharing being part of a faculty of members who bring excitement to the lives of many. The fact that no two days can ever be the same and working with the great many people I do, from our team to the wonderful producers I meet and the amazing customers we have.
Which of your dishes are you most proud of?
With Over 44 Years of cooking that for me is a very difficult question to answer. With a bandwidth of styles, having been prepared and cooked over the years it is not easy for me to come up with an answer to that question. But I am proud of the food we create all the time and also the fact that we have managed to remain the longest mentioned recipient of The Michelin Bib Gourmand.
How do you come up with new dishes?
First the product and then the dish. Product to be analysed and thought through and then the creation can begin, failure in one way will automatically result in trying another style. SO much to learn so much to travel and learn sadly life is too short.
Who was your greatest influence?
Sadly, had no role model to inspire me to cook. I just loved it but learnt from others and due to the fact that I worked with old timers who refused to teach, the determination was even more present in the early days and I grabbed every opportunity.
What is your favourite cookbook?
Well tough question. I have my favourites from various regions of India. First was The Larousse Gastronomique which taught a lot. The Repertoire de la Cuisine travelled with me everywhere and I had to buy a new one many years ago as the old one was a shambles. I enjoyed Luigi Carnacianas Great Italian Cookery. But refer most dearly to the one by a Parsee lady called Bichoo Manechshaw to teach me the food of my own community.