Interview with Reza Mahammad

Posted on Movers and Shakers Sep 2012 - by Tandoori Editor
Interview with Reza Mahammad

Famed restaurateur Reza Mahammad of London’s Star of India is also a TV chef and cookery book author, his latest being Reza’s Indian Spice. He talks to Tandoori

 

What made you want to write your new book Reza’s Indian Spice?
The new book draws from my Indian heritage of course, but taking a modern, fresh approach using ingredients readily available to me in the UK and making recipes lighter and healthier. As I have grown with the restaurant, my tastes have evolved. My personal journey has taken me across the globe and on my travels, which is where I've collected recipes like the food magpie I am!

What are some of your favourite recipes in the book?
Baked baby aubergines, chilli seared mackerel, khichri and the guinea fowl with herb butter.
These in particularly represent my comfort food, being influenced by my family and childhood. However, the guinea fowl, reminds me of my first trip to France where I had ordered that delectable bird on the menu, many moons ago.

You first became well known via your restaurant Star of India. What’s the upside of
being a restaurateur and what’s the downside?

In the early days, the restaurant was my platform and the spring board to my career today. I relished my   role as front of house and was privileged to meet the most extraordinary people who came through these portals. For me the upside was undoubtedly the connections and daily contact with the public. I have always loved people and we continue to attract customers across the globe from all walks of life. My work often takes me around the world and the challenge can be keeping all the plates spinning!

Which role do you prefer, being a restaurateur, a cookery writer, TV chef or performing
live as a chef?

All the roles are interdependent and I love them all! The common theme is the interaction with people. There is nothing quite like the buzz you get from a live audience.

What makes a good restaurateur?
Someone who is prepared to eat, sleep and virtually die on the job.
But to be serious, seriousness it is a tough calling and as with any vocation requires passion and dedication.

What advice would you give to any budding young restaurateur?
Stay inspired and follow your dreams. As they say, cream always rises to the top!

You are based in London and France. In your experience, how do the French take to
Indian food?

The French are incredibly French about their food and rightly proud of their cuisine. I am in the process of setting up a cookery school, Chez Cartier, based in the Charentes. I’ve been encouraged by the enthusiasm from the locals, who are willing to try and experiment with ethnic flavours. It would be an enormous challenge to convert the whole of France to Indian food, but I certainly hope to create a stir in the region where I am based. Time will tell!

What do you like to eat and drink?
I am fortunate to have friends who love to cook and I like nothing more than a home cooked meal in good company. I love to eat out also, but a bit of a quality freak and very quick to spot if ingredients are not up to scratch.

How would you like to be remembered?
As a loving, decent human being, who brought a sense of joy and laughter to this planet would be nice wouldn't it?

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