The Wordrobe chats why doing things differently can be key with Yogesh Datta, Chef Patron of one of London’s best Indian restaurants, The Painted Heron
What inspired you to become a chef? Where did you train?
I was actually doing a Hotel Reception and Book Keeping course at a Hotel School in Delhi, India, when I was exposed to the idea of becoming a chef as a career option.
I quickly realised that it was probably the most creative and rewarding career option for me; that was when I started to develop and train.
Do you have any culinary heroes?
There are two names which immediately spring in my mind when I think of my culinary heroes, though no one else will know them. They were my seniors at my first job at the Taj Palace Hotel in Delhi, from whom I learned so much, so quickly.
Describe your cooking philosophy in three words
Refreshing, Different, Robust.
What’s next on the cards?
The beginning of 2018 saw us rebrand; following our fifteen-year anniversary as The Painted Heron, we decided to reinvent our menu with a stronger focus on vegan items and ethically-sourced seafood and meat.
I also decided to remove all dairy from our cooking, so this year will be about us continuing to redefine Indian dining in London as TPH of Chelsea.
What food takes you back to childhood?
Restaurants in Southall, West London. The general atmosphere of West London is one I’ve loved for years and fits well with what we do now.
What’s playing on your kitchen soundtrack?
We have a Bluetooth speaker in the kitchen and anyone can connect their music to it so we have all sort of music playing, from Bengali to Tamilian to Nepalese to Bollywood to English.
What’s your favourite comfort food dish?
Tarka daal & rice with lime pickle.
Name us three of your favourite restaurants
St. John Street, Smithfield
Chiltern firehouse, Marylebone
The Regency Club, Queensbury
What has been the toughest challenge of your career so far?
There have been many tough challenges in my long career, but that is half the fun of being a chef.
Recently, cooking for a sitdown wedding dinner for 250 guests in a marquee from a make shift kitchen in a tent, working only with electrical appliances, was quite a challenge!
What would you say to aspiring chefs?
It can be the most rewarding profession, provided you hang on for long enough, as initial years can be tough.
Find out more by visiting The Painted Heron