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It has been a while since I did an interview, so it had to be big. And who better than Chef Yogesh Datta. I went to one of his London restaurants recently, Bangalore Express and it was really tasty and after this I managed to get an interview with the great man himself.
Long regarded as one of finest Indian chefs of his generation, Yogesh Datta brings a strong sense of tradition to his cooking yet marries it with just the right sense of modernity and flourish. Born in Shimla, a hill station in northern India, Datta initially honed his expertise at New Delhi’s prestigious Taj Palace Hotel. This was followed by working in Geneva, and then Dubai. From there, Datta arrived to work in London, heading up the kitchens of Tabla, a modern Indian in the Docklands. Thereafter, he went on to open the widely acclaimed fine dining Indian restaurant The Painted Heron, which recently took the accolade of ‘Best Indian Establishment’ at The Food Awards London 2016.
Great heritage and great food... you know what's next.
PLEASE Read on.
Who is/was your inspiration to start cooking?
It was definitely my mother. She was a great cook and a host. I am from a largish family of 5 siblings as well as many uncles and aunties and other relatives from the extended family where each family meal was like a family feast.
Contrary to Indian culture, as a boy, I was always helping her in the kitchen, even more than my elder sisters!
What is your goal in the business?
Provide proper, healthy and honest Indian food to the Indian food lovers of London in a casual, fun environment, comparable with any other world cuisine and at competitive prices.
Who was your biggest critic when starting?
My first chef I trained under in India, Chef Sandeep Kalia at the Taj Palace Hotel in India. He guided and helped me through the initial baby steps in this eventful culinary journey I started at that hotel 33 years ago!
When did you realise you wanted and could be a major chef in the world?
When I came to London in 1998 and was guided through the culinary demands for London by Iqbal Wahhab of Roast fame at his restaurant Dockmasters House in Docklands. I realized I was in a place where I could let my creativity and flare flow in my dishes.
Where else aside from the UK do you see your restaurant and Cuisine working?
Indian food is addictive, once initiated and exposed to Indian food, one can get hooked to it. At macro level, Indian food is still at its infancy in most other parts of the world, apart from of course India. England and London come the closest in terms of quality of Indian food available outside India. In micro terms, all over England and Scotland, apart from major cities, the quality of Indian food available is still quite bad generally.
"Provide proper, healthy and honest Indian food to the Indian food lovers of London"
Why is everyone now a foodie?
2 Major factors :-
1. The power of internet.
2. Advent of smart phones.
All knowledge is now shared over the internet and is available literally on your palms at the touch of a few buttons. You can now ‘google’ anything including the elusive knowledge of spices and Indian food.
Which restaurants in London are your Top 5?
St. John, Farringdon
Chiltern Fire House
Thank you so much Chef Datta.
A great read and inspiration. I trust you enjoyed it too and we have some new restaurants to try.
I look forward to returning to Chef Dattas restaurants very soon.