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2nd March 2016

Interview: Dhruv Mittal of The Chaiwalla Supperclub

Helena Maxwell-Jackson interviews young creator, Dhruv Mittal of The Chaiwalla Supperclub in London’s East End

I first met Dhruv Mittal, the twenty-something creator of The Chaiwalla Superclub, during our first week studying at Le Cordon Bleu—a French culinary school based in London. Since then, Mittal has travelled across India, worked under some of the world’s most renowned chefs and set up a success mittalful supper club right at the heart of London.

However, Mittal wasn’t always based in England’s capital. And it is his childhood in Southern Manchester, his fond memories of trips with his family to the South Asian restaurants on the Curry Mile, that he credits with awakening him to the joy of food.

Photo: The Chaiwalla

“We used to pick a new restaurant each time and go all-out on the menu, then get out just in time to get paan [an Indian betel-leaf refreshment] down the road from a DVD and cassette shop,” Mittal tells me.
“It was the closest thing to home food that we could find and it opened my eyes to the fusion of the various South Asian cuisines that came together in Rusholme.”

During high school food technology classes, Mittal used to dream of attending Le Cordon Bleu. However it was only at age 22—after leaving his job as a project manager in the capital—that he put his dreams into fruition.

After three months of Le Grande Diplome, the school’s most intensive cuisine and patisserie program, Mittal realised he belonged in the kitchen. “I loved the skill, passion, thrill and creativity of being in a kitchen more than anything I had experienced before.

“LCB was definitely the best nine months of my career to date. I learnt all the tools and techniques; from basic knife skills, to cooking different meats and the art of flawless presentation and taste.”

Not only did Le Cordon Bleu teach him the skills required in a professional kitchen, but the school’s reputation opened doors for him at high end of the catering industry: “I was openly accepted to stage at some of the leading Michelin starred restaurants in the country and even abroad in India, many hotels were more than keen to take me on to train.”

It was during his time in India that Mittal saw the potential of The Chaiwalla Supperclub: “I wanted to showcase the best of Indian street food, regional specialities and home favourites that you wouldn’t find anywhere else in the UK… I wanted to bring that flavour and authenticity but in an intimate, personal environment.”

For Mittal, tradition and authenticity are key to the food he serves at The Chaiwalla Supperclub: “I always aspire to create dishes in the exact way they have been for generations… There’s a strong focus on great produce, fresh and vibrant spices, and above all creating a family environment to enjoy the food together. Rarely will Indians sit down to eat with only one dish, there’s always at least three to four dishes on the table, and the experience is only true when all the food is being shared around. That social aspect to Indian dining is also what inspired the Supperclub.”

With plans to open a restaurant within the next couple of years, Dhruv Mittal is certainly one to watch. I ask him what advice he would offer inspiring foodies. “Be prepared for the hard graft, master the basics, follow your passion not the money, and finally find your voice early on and continue to spend time growing it and developing it. You will never know enough when it comes to food and hospitality.”

Jamestown Way, London E14 2DA

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