Chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL
From ‘chef of genius’* to ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ **– 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 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. And 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’ Khaadraas Club Dinners held at Café Spice Namaste every 4-5 weeks feature 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. Despite being a hands-on chef, he’s managed to slot in regular appearances on BBC Saturday Kitchen and other media channels, and to author 3 books: ‘International Cuisine: India’, ‘Cafe Spice Namaste: New Wave Indian Cuisine’ and ‘Indian Summer’. He appears regularly at top food festivals around the world, including Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales, where his hand-made line of gluten-free pickles and chutneys, Mr Todiwala’s Splendidly Spicy Pickles and Chutneys, 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.
Today, Cyrus is the proud recipient of a Craft Guild of Chefs ‘Special Award and has been made Fellow of the Academy of Culinary Arts and the Master Chefs of Great Britain. In 2013, Cafe Spice Namaste, which he set up with Pervin Todiwala 18 years ago, won the Best Asian Restaurant Business Award at the 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 The Asian Junior Chefs Challenge, 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 an active Ambassador of Springboard UK, the industry careers charity.
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’.
In Summer 2013, Cyrus Todiwala teamed up with Scottish Chef Tony Singh in a new prime time series on BBC2, ‘The Incredible Spice Men’, which saw them trying to transform the British approach to spicing up culinary favourites. The series’ book tie-in, distributed throughout the UK, has been a proven bestseller. In autumn 2013, ‘Mr Todiwala’s Bombay’, Cyrus ‘ fifth cookbook is to be published by Hardie Grant.
Cyrus is married to Pervin Todiwala, his equal partner in the family business (among other things!), and they have two sons.