Chef Talk: Vineet Bhatia: Rogue Restauranteer Extraordinaire

Vineet Bhatia

Born in India in 1967, Vineet Bhatia was born into an educated middle class family in Bombay. His first passion in life was airplanes, followed by his mother’s first love, cooking.“When I was a young child, I didn’t have an alarm clock. I didn’t need one. I was awakened at six-thirty each morning by the roaring engines of the DC-10 that took off from the airport near our house in Bombay, India.

Bhatia successfully applied to study at catering college in Bombay and did so from 1985 until 1988. However, on the advice of his parents, both professionals themselves, he also gained an economics degree in 1989. The Oberoi hotel group soon spotted his talent and determination and recruited him as a trainee in 1988. “The wonderful thing about growing up in Bombay was the eclectic influence all around you. It is a melting pot of culinary delights from all over the many different regions of India.” He remained there for three years covering all aspects of Indian cuisine.

Vineet Bhatia

In June 1998 Vineet teamed up with Iqbal Wahhab, a very enterprising and revolutionary journalist, to conceptualise Cinnamon Club and head the Kitchen. Planning Permission issues led to considerable delays and in January 1999 unable to financially sustain with a new house and a young son of 7 months, Vineet set up home at ‘ Vineet Bhatia- Hammersmith’.

In 2004, Vineet Bhatia finally stepped out of the shadows of the Star of India and Zaika, to open his own restaurant ‘Rasoi’ – meaning kitchen, thus fulfilling his cherished dream of having his own restaurant. ‘’Looking back – this was the best decision in my life. It not only gave me a chance to be my own boss, but also work in close association with my wife and life partner to realise our dream together.‘’

Describing his food Vineet says that he produces ‘evolved’ Indian food and that his food never stops evolving. Balance and sophisticated use of spices mark his cooking. He scores with the way he has given traditional Indian cuisine a unique and contemporary twist, and modern presentation helps too.

While anchoring himself in his personal venture, Vineet’s modern progressive attitude to Indian food put him in great demand throughout the world, making him the ‘Face’ for Indian Cuisine. His reputation now synonymous with ‘elite fine dining’ is reflected in his impressive portfolio of exclusive consultancies in Mauritius, Geneva, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and India.

Vineet Bhatia is married to Rashima, who works alongside him as co-director at Rasoi. Rashima also runs the head office in London whilst overseeing the consultancies abroad. Vineet and Rashima have two sons and the family lives in West London.

Dr. Nasrine sat down with Chef Vineet Bhatia to discuss his multiple successes within the culinary world.

Tell us about your personal experience of branching out here in the Middle East and the United Arab Emirates.
It was a natural move, after London, it surfaced organically. We had a huge following of clients from this part of the world in London; we have been here in Dubai for close to 11 years.

Why did you decide to open here in the Middle East?
Dubai, Bombay has a long and robust history.

For those not familiar with your restaurant (Rasoi, Amari, Indego, Ashiana, Maharaja, Safron, and Ziya], what region is your culinary style modeled after?
Indian food, modern Indian food, with traditional technical foundation however, when my passion leads me to interlink other western technics I do so.

What has been your impression of the local food scene over the years here in the Middle East?
It has exploded, it’s one of the best cities to visit if one is a foodie or enjoys the culinary arts.

When you manage to find a little time to step away from your restaurants, what are some of your favorite spots to dine or socialize?
I love to entertain my family and love spending time with my team and venturing out to some local spots.

What is your favorite restaurant, besides your own?
I love Japanese food, and Nobu is my go-to.

If you had not pursued a Chef career or the life of a rogue restaurateur, what do you think you would have been?
I would have been a pilot; I love to travel.

What three ingredients you MUST have in your kitchen?
Salt, curry leafs, mustard seeds and PASSION.

Are you launching any new projects in the near future that you’d like to share with us?
All of the above and I’d also love to launch a training center in India.