Wednesday, 19 July 2017

5 Questions - Vivek Singh, Executive Chef of Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen & Cinnamon Soho

Earlier this year I had to spend a week in London on a training course for my new employer. I had made plans to catch up with Masterchef 2016 winner Jane Devonshire and 2015 runner-up Tony Rodd for drinks but in the end we struggled to get our diaries to line up and we had to cancel. As a result, this left me with a free night to try out one of the many restaurants in the capital but after a recommendation from Jane to check out the latest offering from Vivek Singh, Cinnamon Bazaar, I decided to head to the Covent Garden restaurant for my last meal in London before heading home.
Chef Vivek Singh is one of the most successful and respected modern Indian chefs in the UK with four renowned restaurants in London including the Cinnamon Club which boasts a Michelin Star, Cinnamon Kitchen, Cinnamon Soho and the recently opened Cinnamon Bazaar.
Based on the Irani cafes of modern 19th century India, Cinnamon Bazaar has a more relaxed feel to it than the other restaurants in the group but still offers the same high standards when it comes to quality produce and bold flavours. I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner that evening and on the back of my visit, contacted Chef Vivek to let him know how impressed I was with the food and service I had received.
In the end, myself exchanged a number of messages across social media and before I knew it, I was asking him if he would like to answer 5 Questions.
Here's Chef Vivek's story;

How did you get started?

I grew up in a coal mining community in Bengal. Like most boys in my generation, I had very little exposure and involvement in the kitchen. It wasn’t until I had completed hotel school and began an intense chef course and being exposed to a wide variety of cuisines and cooking styles, where I realised a whole world of possibilities and the journeys cooking could bring. When I was offered a sought after place as a Kitchen Executive Trainee for Oberoi Hotels (India’s top hotel chain), I knew I was going to be a chef.

What’s the best piece of advice you could give anyone wanting to start working within the hospitality industry?

If you’re looking to make a quick buck, or have a meteoric career, look elsewhere because this is not the place to make that happen. However if you’re looking for instant gratification, and if you’re looking to see the fruits of your labour and you enjoy interacting and mixing with people, then this is exactly the place to be. In short, get your head down and get on with it!
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years time?

No idea, and never will! Nonetheless, I have always felt the strong urge to push the boundaries and constantly evolve and embrace change.

With my cooking, I have always maintained the belief, no matter how successful or popular, as with any other art form, that it needs to evolve in order to reflect the changing lifestyles and tastes. Standing still isn’t an option, and therefore, looking beyond authenticity, is the only way forward.

If you could only cook one of your own recipes, what would it be & why?

Old-Delhi style butter chicken – it has sugar and spice, kick and texture, creamy unctuousness and bite, all at the same time.

You can invite one person (living or dead) to your last meal – Who would it be and why? …and what’s on the menu?

My wife Archana, of course! I will cook cauliflower parathas for her and she will make me a masala omelette in a brioche bun.

I would like to thank Chef Vivek for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer 5 Questions and wish him every success in the future.

If you aren't able to get to London for lunch or dinner at any of the Cinnamon Collection restaurants, you can recreate some of Vivek's recipes at home by checking out his website or if you're like me and prefer to work with a cookbook, you can order any of Vivek's cookbooks, including the recently published Indian Festival Feasts, online here.



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