Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala
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Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala are chefs and co-patrons of Cafe Spice Namaste in London.
Cyrus Todiwala is Chef Patron and owner of Cafe Spice Namaste, an award-winning Pan-Indian restaurant in London. From ‘chef of genius’ to ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ and in 2014 ‘BBC Food Personality of the Year’, this Bombay born Parsee chef has been called all manner of good things, but the Chef Patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, Assado and The Park Café in Victoria Park East still has his feet very much on the ground…running.
He cooks, teaches, runs three successful restaurants and does more than his fair bit for charity and the community, but Cyrus’ restless, entrepreneurial soul means he’s never going to stand still. He’s never said no to a challenge, whether it’s leaving a secure Executive Chef role in the Taj Group of Hotels in Goa 21 years ago to start all over in the UK, or bravely daring to combine flavours, spices and ingredients in ways no other Indian chef has done before.
His ‘worst kept secret’ is Khaadraas Club Dinners, held at Café Spice Namaste every 4-5 weeks and featuring heirloom recipes from his mother and aunts in Bombay and India. They’ve become coveted rituals, introducing his rich Parsee culinary heritage to a wider audience.
In 2011, with Pervin Todiwala he opened Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, the signature restaurant at the Hilton London Heathrow T5, and in 2013, The Park Cafe at Victoria Park East. In autumn 2013, Cyrus Todiwala teamed up with Scottish Chef Tony Singh in the hit prime time series on BBC2, ‘The Incredible Spice Men’. Two years earlier, he appeared in the travelogue ‘Galleons of Spice’, broadcast on the History Channel, taking viewers through a tour of the culinary traditions and influences of Goa and Portugal. Despite being a hands-on chef, he’s managed to regular media appearances since, including BBC Saturday Kitchen and, most recently, the game show ‘Pointless’ on BBC.
Cyrus is the author of 5 books: “International Cuisine: India”, “Cafe Spice Namaste: New Wave Indian Cuisine”, “Indian Summer”, as well as ‘The Incredible Spicemen’ with Tony Singh, published by Ebury and the BBC, and nominated for a 2013 Specsavers National Book Award, and ‘Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India’, published by Hardie Grant and nominated for a 2013 World Food Awards Cookbook of the Year. A new book is scheduled for publication in Spring 2016.
He appears regularly at top food festivals around the world, including the BBC Good Food Show, Taste of London, Ludlow Food Festival and the Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales (where his hand-made line of gluten-free pickles and chutneys, Mr Todiwala’s Splendidly Spicy Pickles and Chutneys, almost always sell out before the end of the show).
A passionate campaigner for sustainability and buying British, Café Spice Namaste’s list of green awards includes the Sustainable Food Award from the Corporation of London and a ‘Special Achievement Award’ for his commitment to the environment from the Footprint Forum. He is the Patron of the British Lop Society, one of the rarest pig breeds.
Today, Cyrus is the proud recipient of a Craft Guild of Chefs ‘Special Award’ and has been made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and the Master Chefs of Great Britain. Cafe Spice Namaste, which is entering its 20th year, won the Best Asian Restaurant Business Award at the 2013 Asian Business Awards. And Cyrus is one of only a handful of British Asian chefs with an entry in the Who’s Who.
Cyrus sits on a number of boards including the London Food Board, under the Mayor’s office, and the Hospitality Guild. He is a member of the Asian Restaurant Skills Board, which aims to raise the prestige and profile of the Asian cuisine industry as a career choice – a cause very close to his heart, having opened the pioneering Asian & Oriental School of Catering in 2000, which went on to inspire others chefs to open their own training restaurants. Ever the innovator, ten years later, in 2013, Cyrus launched Zest Quest Asia, a first of its kind, with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, to help introduce Asian cookery to a new generation of ‘homegrown’ talent. He is a Founding Member of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Cooks.
He is an active Ambassador of Springboard UK, the industry careers charity, the Clink Charity, an Enterprise Champion of LeSoCo and an Honorary Professor of the University of West London. He also holds an Honorary Doctorate from London Metropolitan University.
Cyrus was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for services to education & training and an OBE for his contribution to the hospitality industry. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London. In 2012, he cooked the very first luncheon for HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tour, featuring his now famous “Country Captain.”
Bombay-born Pervin Todiwala’s is at the centre of one of the most dynamic and enduring family businesses in the UK’s £4 billion Asian cuisine industry.
A true role model for women in business, Pervin is co-patron of Cafe Spice Namaste, the groundbreaking Indian restaurant that she set up in London with Cyrus Todiwala 20 years ago. She oversees front of house and operations, and has been instrumental in the expansion of the business into a collection that today includes The Park Café at Victoria Park East, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen at the Hilton London Heathrow T5, and The River Restaurant by Cyrus Todiwala at the Acton Waterfront Resort in Baga, Goa.
A trained chef, Pervin graduated with honours from Bombay’s prestigious Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (IMHCT). She then worked as a Chef de Partie at the Taj Mahal Intercontinental Hotel before moving to Goa, where she concentrated on raising her two young sons. Her second career as a happy ‘domestic engineer’ did not end until 1995 when, now firmly rooted in the UK with her family, she decided to embark on a new calling as a full-time restaurateur.
Today she is the Todiwalas’ entrepreneurial backbone. Her business and marketing savvy are evident not only in the continued popularity and adaptability of the restaurant businesses, but in the development of a line of hand-made condiments under the Mr Todiwala’s Splendidly Spicy Pickles & Chutneys brand, a forthcoming spice range, a thriving outdoor catering business and the now famous Khaadraas (‘Greedy Pigs’) Club launched to promote the Todiwalas’ rich Parsee culinary heritage to a wider audience.
Pervin embodies the deep-seated Parsee tradition of charity and philanthropy. She is a Patron of Learning for Life, a UK-based charity providing children’s education, health care and women’s empowerment in South Asia; a member of the Asian Restaurant Skills Board, which aims to encourage young talent to choose a career in Asian cuisine; and an Enterprise Champion of LeSoCo (previously Lewisham College). Together with Cyrus Todiwala, she has been a consistent supporter of causes promoting sustainability and the protection of the environment. She is a Founding member of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and has been an organizer and judge of Zest Quest Asia, which she founded with Cyrus in 2013 to attract homegrown talent into the industry as well as help curate skills in classic Asian cuisine.
In 2013, Pervin was made an Honorary Dame d’ Escoffier of the Les Dames d’Escoffier, a worldwide philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields of food and hospitality. In the same year, she was awarded a TIAW World of Difference Award, designed to recognise individuals who have made a ‘world of difference’ in advancing and empowering women in society. She has also been named to the Women 1st ‘1000 Most Influential Women’ in hospitality, leisure, travel and tourism.