Mehernosh Mody talks to Tandoori

Posted on Movers and Shakers May 2008 - by Tandoori Magazine
Mehernosh Mody talks to Tandoori

Mehernosh Mody, Executive chef and director of La Porte des Indes talks to Tandoori.

What made you become a chef?
My mother’s cooking and the fact that I was always intrigued by food. My mother has always been very inspirational and even though she’s very proud of me now, whenever I see her, she’s still the boss in the kitchen! I also always wanted to know how things are sourced and how it all ends up on our plate. At college I had a choice of choosing between front of house or back of house as a career so I chose back of house.

What have been the highlights for you since La Porte des Indes opened over a decade ago?
It’s certainly been a challenging decade particularly considering La Porte is such a big ship to steer with all its different aspects. Running the kitchen is one, cooking another and then also participating in the administration of the restaurant. But it has all been very fulfilling. I have to stress though that I have a great team even if it keeps changing. I find it enormously refreshing when you have new staff coming in with different ideas. I like training them and instilling certain values. One of the best things to have done is to have passed on my knowledge and experience to others and help them achieve their goals.

What do you think of the current standard of Indian chefs working in the UK?
I think it’s fantastic because the Indian chefs are a lot more recognised and respected now for their achievements compared to even just five years ago. They are being awarded Michelin stars and being taken seriously for their cooking. I’ll even go so far as saying that some of the best Indian chefs in the world are working in UK restaurants. They are pushing the boundaries and conventions of Indian food and being creative in a way no one could have imagined.

What do you like eating yourself?
If I’ve been in the kitchen all day, all I’ll have is just dal and roti. It’s very rare that I’ll even add any vegetables. But at home it’s the wife who cooks. She’s excellent and can cook anything from Indian to Italian and everything in between! I normally get a Sunday off so my wife and I and our young daughter sit around the table for a nice family meal. The only time I will cook is when my daughter specifically requests that I cook for her.

How do you relax?
It’s very difficult to relax and switch off in the job that I do. The higher up you are in your profession the more responsibility you have so there is always so much to do. But I try and spend whatever spare time I have with my daughter or even try and read books whenever I can.

Who is your ideal dinner guest? 
I’ve always been a bog Rock fan so I’d have loved to have had Jim Morrison from The Doors and Freddie Mercury of Queen as my guests. Sadly, both aren’t with us any more. I was lucky enough to have caught a recent concert by Queen, but it just isn’t the same without Mercury.

What advice would you give to an aspiring chef?
Be prepared to face competition as Indian restaurant food is constantly evolving and you need to be on top of it all. Also, be prepared to put in long hours and be passionate about what you do.

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