Across culinary borders

From holding several titles to authoring five culinary books and opening restaurants in both London and Mumbai, Celebrity Chef Cyrus Todiwala, master chef at Acron Waterfront Resort Baga, Goa, brings with him an extraordinary story of his culinary journey across countries and shares the changing trends of this industry By Rituparna Chatterjee

From holding several titles to authoring five culinary books and opening restaurants in both London and Mumbai, Celebrity Chef Cyrus Todiwala, master chef at Acron Waterfront Resort Baga, Goa, brings with him an extraordinary story of his culinary journey across countries and shares the changing trends of this industry By Rituparna Chatterjee

20150331eh26A recipient of the prestigious Craft Guild of Chefs Award, a fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and the Master Chefs of Great Britain, Mumbai-born celebrity Chef Cyrus Todiwala has been awarded with many recognitions. But this chef patron of Cafe Spice Namaste in London, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at Hilton London Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 in Colnbrook, England, and The Park Café at Victoria Park East in London, still remains grounded in life. So when asked about what inspired him to join this industry, he quickly quips that it is rather a mystery. “Unlike the present day, when students are exposed enough to realise and nurture their talent and exploit it as a career, in my time when I decided to join the hospitality industry I did not have any television or at least not any of the sort we have today to help me realise my talent and goal. Either I was too confused and took the first thing I could think of, or I thought I was not competent at anything else or perhaps I had a combination of desires stemming from my love to cook and be practical. So in short my journey into this field was driven by a combination of many things,” mentions Celebrity Chef Cyrus Todiwala, master chef at Acron Waterfront Resort Baga, Goa.

Once decided upon his course of action, he went on to study at Sophia Shree Basant Kumar Somani Memorial Polytechnic in Mumbai and thereafter joined the Taj Group of Hotels in India. However, the turning point of his career came when he decided to quit his secure job as an executive chef at a Taj property in Goa 21 years ago to start his own restaurant business in the UK. The result was for the world to see.

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Chef Cyrus Todiwala

He opened three restaurants in London and Colnbrook and went onto add a fourth, Assado (a Goan canteen) in 2014 at London’s Waterloo and thereafter came to India, to open his fifth restaurant, The River Restaurant at Acron Waterfront Resort Baga, Goa. But would he recreate these restaurant concepts in India? Chef Todiwala opines, “Cafe Spice Namaste would be an ideal companion for Mumbai and so would a Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen. But who knows?” Apart from these restaurants, he also has to his credit five culinary books which he authored namely – International Cuisine: India; Cafe Spice Namaste; New Wave Indian Cuisine, Indian Summer; The Incredible Spicemen with Tony Singh, which was nominated for 2013 Specsavers National Book Awards; and Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India, which was nominated for the Best World Cookbook of the Year 2013.

Signature style

Being a Parsee, Chef Todiwala’s signature style of cooking stems from his Parsee roots fused together with a constant focus to combine flavours, spices and ingredients in innovative ways. “Perhaps my great fortune of getting training in multiple culinary styles during my formative years has played a major part in bringing many different elements to play on my menus and recipes.” Innovation is an ongoing process – ranging from sourcing new ingredients and working with them to reworking on known time tested recipes to work a combined magic on a plate. “Everyone plays a vital part in how they hope to attract their diners and retain them. In Britain, we sit in the centre of the world with influences from all over the globe and get very discerning widely travelled visitors to our establishments whereby we are challenged all the time to innovate. Though I don’t wander in the domains of too much modernisation but I will gladly embrace new techniques, equipments that will deliver me better output as these lead to innovating new formulas and better product on plate,” opines Chef Todiwala.


Quick Bytes

  • Favourite cuisine: Parsee
  • Favourite restaurants: Jai Hind Lunch Home, Mumbai and Green Papaya, London
  • Favourite destinations: Mumbai, London, Istanbul and Kuala Lumpur
  • Favourite books: The National Geographic and Bhicoo J Manekshaw’s Chaalo Jumwa…..come let’s eat!

As for more innovation and experimentation in cuisine, molecular gastronomy is seen to be growing globally as discerning travellers continue to show a keen interest in this food chemistry. “I think this has a place in modern dining for the seeker of new experiences. Molecular gastronomy tests one’s mind and the palate tests one’s ability to visualise what the chef wants to bring forward and will remain so for the foreseeable future as the rest of the global culinary world comes to embrace it. The masters in Europe have advanced into another plenum and soon chefs the world over will follow suit as gradually more equipments and techniques become available,” he mentions.

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Cuisine culture

In Britain today Indian food is on yet another move from the basic and much maligned techniques to great flavours, designs, tastes and regions coming to the fore. This is destined to grow further and the word contemporary might actually now come to be applied in its true sense. The scene is also similar in India with restaurants exploring different and unique cuisines from lesser-known regions of the country. “In the past few years in India I have seen a major spurt of new restaurants. As a Mumbaiker, I look at Mumbai alone and see that whilst we do have a large number of good dining places now, they are still growing and tapping into people’s minds and exploring new regions of our sub-continent. That exploration alone will and can be called innovation as several untapped regions of our multi complicated, multi tiered, multi faceted, multi influenced cuisines yet remain unknown and hidden,” states Chef Todiwala adding, “I think today unlike at our time Indian cuisine is just waiting to explode onto the world’s stage. It is popular no doubt, but not yet regarded as a foe nor as an equal to some of the other great cuisines and my ultimate aim is to see it enjoy the pride and glory that other cuisines enjoy.” As for his message to aspiring chefs, Chef Todiwala proudly advises, “Get on with your task, observe and listen but speak less. Be hungry, ask questions and keep asking. Ask your family and delve into its secrets. Do not be afraid to seek knowledge and do not hunger for glory. That will come, just make sure you grow your own tree well like the everlasting Pipal. And lastly dream but remember the part you play in that dream.”

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