|Cyrus Todiwala is the Chef Patron of Café Spice Namaste, the London landmark Indian restaurant that he set up with his wife Pervin over fifteen years ago.
One of the most respected chefs and restaurateurs operating in the UK today, Cyrus is renowned for his commitment to sustainability and the environment, and for the diverse, ground-breaking cuisine and dedication to the culinary arts that continue to inspire successive generations of Indian chefs. He has been credited with ‘lifting Indian cuisine’ with his uncontested flair and imagination. In 2010, The London Evening Standard claimed that Cyrus offered ‘some of the classiest curries in the City’ and named him one of the 1000 most influential people in London. In 2011, he entered the Who’s Who for the first time.
Cyrus was born and brought up in Bombay. He graduated in hotel Administration & Food Technology from Bombay’s B.K. Somani Polytechnic and trained as a chef with the famous Taj Group in India, where he rose to become Executive Chef of the group’s hotels in Goa. He left India for Europe in 1991, where he developed his hallmark style of blending traditional Indian culinary techniques and flavours with more unexpected ingredients. Drawing on his Parsee heritage and Portuguese influences discovered in Goa, today, in his bastion Cafe Spice Namaste, housed in a stunning Grade II-listed building, a former magistrate’s court, Cyrus is known for his refined, elegantly spiced and sophisticated cooking. He has cooked for royalty, presidents and international celebrities and is often invited to be a guest chef at food festivals from Dubai to Durban, and he continues to venture into new gastronomic territory, including the bold culinary traditions of South Africa and the Middle East.
A range of gourmet food products bearing the Mr Todiwala brand – hand-made pickles, chutneys and fresh cooking sauces -- has been launched. These are all hand-made in Cafe Spice Namaste, and have been carried by Selfridge’s Food Halls (the sauces), and The Real Food Festival in Borough Market and Southbank Centre. In fact, ‘Mr Todiwala’s’ (Make your taste buds tingle!) is a staple at all prestigious food festivals, including the Abegavenny Food Festival, dubbed the ‘Cannes of Food’. Also, Adventure Gourmet @ Café Spice Namaste is an on-going programme of chef demonstrations and master classes hosted at the restaurant featuring Cyrus and his chef peers. In autumn 2011, Cyrus and Pervin’s second restaurant, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, will be opening at the new Hilton Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 in West London, offering the same kind of sophisticated Pan-Indian and Parsee cuisine for which Cyrus is known.
Cyrus is a regular on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen and Market Kitchen on uktv, amongst others. He has commentated on BBC Radio and LBC Radio, and is a much sought after lecturer and after-dinner speaker. A distinctive writer and social observer, he occasionally contributes features to culinary magazines and journals, and has authored three recipe and cookbooks, including the best-selling ‘Indian Summer’, dedicated to the memory of a favourite nephew.
Collectively, Cyrus, Pervin and Café Spice Namaste have won a multitude of awards, including a distinction as one of the UK’s 100 Top Restaurants at the National Restaurant Awards, the Investors in People Champion award and the Education & Training Catey award (the ‘Oscars’ of the UK hospitality industry). Cyrus was also awarded a Special Achievement Award at the Footprint Forum Award on 19th May, 2011. More recently, Cafe Spice Namaste was awarded The Best Asian Restaurant Business of the Year at the 2013 Asian Business Awards.
Ever the keen environmentalist (he helped to establish two bird sanctuaries in Goa), and a champion of sustainability, Cyrus chooses to cook with organic and sustainable products wherever possible and firmly believes in Buying British. In February 2011, Café Spice Namaste won two ‘Green Oscars’: the Corporation of London Sustainable Food Award and the London Chamber of Commerce Award for Leadership in Sustainability. The restaurant is a strong supporter of the Marine Conservation Society and HRH The Prince of Wales’ Mutton Renaissance Campaign. Cyrus is also a Patron of BuyGB, which aims to promote British produce on-line.
Despite the obvious demands of running a business, true to his Parsee upbringing, Cyrus continues to devote time and energy to charitable causes. He is a Trustee of Learning for Life, President of the Time & Talents Association and an Ambassador of Springboard UK. Café Spice Namaste has hosted fund-raisers and donated prizes for Hospitality Action, Working Families, Cancer Research UK, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and Teenage Cancer Trust, amongst others.
In 2000, Cyrus received an MBE for his commitment to education and training and in 2010 he was awarded OBE for his contribution to the hospitality industry. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London, and a Honorary Professor of Thames Valley University, as well as a recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from London Metropolitan University. He is a Fellow of the Institute of Hospitality and a member of the board of the National Skills Academy for Hospitality.
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