This 39 year old chef dynamo who hails from Mumbai, India has quite a culinary resume to show for himself despite the fact that he was raised in a long line of accountants. In addition to being a husband and the father of twins, this former Iron Chef America and Next Iron Chef America star owns and works as Executive Chef at the 18-seat East Village restaurant Graffiti. He also had published the 2008 cookbook Mantra: The Rules of Indulgence, runs an event planning company, and created Candy Camp, a cooking class for children. And now, as if that isn’t enough, he will open his second restaurant Mehtaphor this September at the Duane Street Hotel.
When and how did you know that working in the culinary world was your passion?
My granddad’s knowledge about the medicinal properties of ingredients sparked my interest in food. As a kid when I was hurt he always gave me hot milk with turmeric to drink as turmeric had healing properties. Also for the sniffles I was given a mixture of one teaspoon each of honey, lime juice and brandy. That is why I pursued a career in the culinary world.
If you could cook for anyone (dead or alive) who would it be?
Its not a person but an entity. I want to cook for the military – for the troops serving our country.
If you could have anyone (dead or alive) cook for you who would it be?
I enjoy Thomas Keller’s cooking!
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Fresh paper thin rotis.
What advice would you give to aspiring chefs in NYC?
Get into this industry only if you believe in yourself and really enjoy cooking. For there is no glamour in the initial years in the industry, so concentrate on learning as much as you can and train under the best in the industry.
If you could go on “Top Chef” would you?
Sure, I am up for any challenge.
What flavors do you hate?
There is nothing I dislike as I love challenging my palate.
What hints can you give us about your upcoming restaurant Mehtaphor?
Its going to be a Graffiti plus, plus plus….
How will the cuisine differ from your sister restaurant Graffiti?
While the style of cooking will be similar, the dishes will be completely new and there will be a good variety of pastry inspired cocktails.
What do you hope to be doing in your career 5 years down the line?
Opening restaurants in other countries in the world and definitely working with children.
Mehtaphor will be opening in September. In the meantime you can check out Jehangir Mehta’s restaurant Graffiti at www.graffitinyc.com.