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 2022 is not about being an ‘invisible restaurateur’. With a brand new firm in place, the person behind Indian Accent and Comorin is creating a number of manufacturers underneath totally different key cooks

 2022 is not about being an ‘invisible restaurateur’. With a brand new firm in place, the person behind Indian Accent and Comorin is creating a number of manufacturers underneath totally different key cooks

On the fag finish of 2019, simply earlier than the pandemic altered the world and the world of eating places irrevocably, restaurateur Rohit Khattar, 58, proprietor of the acclaimed Indian Accent and Comorin, referred to as me up one afternoon. He wished to make his apologies for not with the ability to attend an occasion round Enterprise on a Platter, my then new ebook on the enterprise of eating places, wherein he’s a case research.

To be sincere, I had hardly anticipated him to take part within the panel dialogue (between the nation’s high restaurateurs), realizing, and having written about, his social shyness and reluctance to seem in public. As he signed off, he chuckled and quipped, “You’ll be able to all the time put an empty chair with a reputation tag saying ‘invisible restaurateur’!” referencing the sobriquet I’d given him in my ebook.

Reduce to 2022. Khattar appears the other of invisible. After an awards ceremony in New Delhi that he’s seen attending, he winds up not simply socialising with however inviting successful cooks from totally different eating places in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to Indian Accent for a lavish meal. A number of days later, we discover him at one other awards ceremony — this time on this planet of drinks. Then, I run into him at Megu (which, by the way, made its maiden look in Asia’s 50 Finest Listing not too long ago), sporting a favorite indigo shirt with a pineapple print. Later, the shirt makes one other look at Garima Arora’s Gaa in Bangkok, whereas he dines on durian, kadhi, condiments with Australian tremendous chef and restaurateur David Thomson. All this throughout the house of a bit of greater than every week.

 Rohit Khattar with  chef David Thomson in Bangkok

 Rohit Khattar with  chef David Thomson in Bangkok

“What’s occurring?” I ask. So out of character is all that is for a person who has cultivated a picture for elusivity over the quarter of a century that I’ve recognized him.

“That is Rohit 2.0,” he laughs.

Rising the model

Rohit 2.0 isn’t just a few revamp of picture. It’s a few revamp of enterprise. Khattar exited his substantial enterprise at Delhi’s India Habitat Centre final 12 months, leaving his crew of senior cooks and managers, together with managing director and faculty good friend Sandeep Tandon, to proceed operating the premier hub — however as a part of the Habitat and never of any firm owned by him. Now, he is able to broaden operations.

“Publish the pandemic, I realised that I have to deal with my ambition as a restaurateur way more. And that received’t occur with simply proudly owning one, two or three eating places, however having a number of manufacturers in a number of cities to be helmed by totally different key cooks,” he tells me. Aside from two Indian Accents in New Delhi and New York, and Comorin in Gurugram, Khattar owns manufacturers like Chor Weird, the All American Diner, and Oriental Octopus. The final two have shut on the Habitat however are anticipated to sprout in different places, as and when he finds appropriate venues. (Khattar additionally owns Cinestaan Movie Firm, a boutique studio, with productions akin to Mirzya, Kaalakaandi and Bombay Rose to its identify.)

Nevertheless, the large information from the sidelines of Asia’s 50 Finest ceremony in Bangkok is that Khattar is tying up with the celebrated David Thompson to create a brand new Thai model. Khattar, his spouse Rashmi (who’s concerned within the design of all his eating places), and Shantanu Mehrotra, the manager chef of Indian Accent (chef Manish Mehrotra has been promoted to culinary director of the model, which can also be seeking to broaden within the close to future) had attended to mark Indian Accent’s no 22 itemizing.

Khattar’s new firm, EHV Worldwide, which is a part of his Outdated World Hospitality, the mum or dad firm, will personal and function this model. The plan is to have a few retailers in India and enterprise internationally, too. “I’m already taking a look at places and we now have been supplied some marquee ones. David will create the menu because the culinary director of this model and practice employees,” he says.

Khattar and  Thomson at a Bangkok market

Khattar and  Thomson at a Bangkok market

Thai with Thompson

Thompson, a world authority on Thai meals, actually cooked a non-public meal for the Khattars whereas in Bangkok, the place apparently “every of the 14 dishes have been memorable”. He took them to a moist market, too, to buy elements. “David is an efficient coach, simply as Manish is an efficient coach other than being an excellent chef. Simply take a look at all of the cooks who are actually well-known, who labored at Indian Accent. I really feel so happy with them, from Himanshu [Saini, of Trèsind Dubai] to Saurabh [Udhinia, of Revolver in Singapore],” Khattar says, as he tries to clarify why he’s assured as to Thompson not simply creating an apt menu (“I don’t need the restaurant to be too costly or effective eating”), however with the ability to run it efficiently whilst he manages his different worldwide commitments.

“I had first eaten at Nahm [while Thompson was part of it] on the Halkin resort in London a few years in the past, after which each time I’d go to Bangkok, I’d eat at Nahm, too. I ate at Lengthy Chim Singapore and, throughout the pandemic, I visited the Thai pavilion on the Dubai Expo to have the ability to eat David’s meals. Every time, I got here out considering these flavours could be properly appreciated in India,” he explains.

Khattar’s perception and dabbling in Thai meals as a widely-accepted delicacies appropriate for India shouldn’t shock those that have tracked his profession. He was one of many first restaurateurs within the nation to maintain Thai dishes in his restaurant Oriental Octopus in Delhi in an period when Indian Chinese language was all the trend. The truth is, Mehrotra was a Thai chef at Oriental Octopus in his earlier avatar, and after I had first tasted his creations for Indian Accent — at a trial stage, earlier than the restaurant had opened — it had been from that kitchen.

Khattar with restaurateur AD Singh at the recent 30 Best Bars 2021 India awards

Khattar with restaurateur AD Singh on the current 30 Finest Bars 2021 India awards

Younger, enjoyable, contemporary

The Thai model with Thomson is just not the one new foray for EVH, which now owns Indian Accent and Comorin. (Chor Bizzare, Oriental Octopus and the others proceed to be underneath Outdated World Hospitality.) EVH has reportedly extra buyers now other than industrialist Anand Mahindra, who had tweeted in 2014 about being a “proud investor” in Indian Accent, when the restaurant had first damaged into Asia’s 50 Finest listing (it has been on the World’s 50 Finest listing yearly since 2015).

On the anvil this 12 months is a brand new fashionable South Indian restaurant model — to return up in Goa first, after which to journey to different cities within the nation. A “younger, vivid” South Indian chef, who Khattar exhorts me to not identify (“you understand I all the time give credit score to my cooks, and I wish to introduce him correctly”), is to helm this model with meals that’s to transcend stereotypes. “We plan to open a enjoyable, informal restaurant, and what higher location than Goa since we plan to focus closely on contemporary seafood,” he says.

Trials have already begun. As we finish this dialog, it’s with a promise of sitting in on considered one of these, simply as I had a few years in the past, when Mehrotra had first introduced out his tamarind-glazed lamb chops and rice-crusted pink snapper moilee. That dish had been an instantaneous winner and continued to be so for years.

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