It’s a given that chefs know great food – whether it comes expertly plated on bone china or hastily scooped into a takeout carton. When your job involves dishing out a steady stream of amazing meals, you are less likely to be blinded by hype or high price tags. Take your cues from these celebrity chefs and add a few eateries to your bucket list.
by NIVEDITA JAYARAM PAWAR

Vicky Ratnani, Culinary Director,
The Kettlery
Loves to eat at: Ministry of Crab, Colombo

I love crabs and Ministry of Crab, Colombo is my favourite place to indulge at. They have the sweetest crabs ever. The Godzilla Crab With Pepper Sauce is my all-time favourite. Apart from the top quality food and service, I like the fact that the ambience is friendly and unpretentious. I remember this very funny incident when I was being shown around the crab room…. I tried to hold a crab and he almost bit my finger off!

 

 

Manu Chandra, Chef Partner, Toast & Tonic, The Fatty Bao & Monkey Bar; Executive Chef, Olive Beach
Loves to eat at: Hotel Tom’s, Richmond Town, Bengaluru

This no-frills place just around the corner from Olive Beach in Bengaluru is my absolute favourite when it comes to Mangalorean food. I eat there more often than I should. It’s an old-world place with no pomp and no social media pretension. It’s generally packed to the rafters and even more popular for delivery. The fish is delicious – the fish and prawns ghee roast is excellent. The cosmopolitan build of the city and the surrounding areas has forced them to add some bizarre stuff to the menu. But it’s best to skip those and stick to the Mangalorean fare and be happy!

 

 

Kelvin Cheung, Corporate Chef and F&B Director, Aallia Hospitality
Loves to eat at: Dakshinayan, Juhu, Mumbai

I love South Indian food and Dakshinayan at Juhu is my go-to place for some lip-smacking dishes. The food here is simple, honest, comforting and absolutely delicious. You know when you are ordering a dosa or gunpowder idli that it will taste exactly like the first time you ate it. Dakshinayan is so consistent. I generally ask for two sada paper dosas with extra garlic chutney on the side as well as an order of gunpowder and ghee mini idlis. The entire team at Dakshinayan knows us and our order. Since my wife and I tend to eat a lot for just two people, those next to us usually stare as our massive dosas are being delivered to the table!

 

Amninder Sandhu, Executive Chef, Arth, Mumbai
Loves to eat at: Bukhara at ITC Maurya, New Delhi

Bukhara is more than a restaurant. It is an institution that all chefs who cook Indian cuisine have learned something from. I simply love their mutton burrah, Sikandari raan and, of course, the legendary dal bukhara. Any trip to Delhi is incomplete without a meal here. The funny part is whenever you ask them the components of a dish, they always say, “chef’s secret ingredient”. But I am not one to give up, so I ask them the same question every time I’m there!

 

Thomas Zacharias, Chef Partner,
The Bombay Canteen
Loves to eat at: Aaswad, Dadar, Mumbai

I love this small restaurant in Dadar with a very limited menu of Maharashtrian delicacies. They have the best missal in Mumbai. I also love the crunchy sabudana
vada loaded with peanuts and the soft kothambir vada. Even the simple waran bhaat (dal rice), topped with a dollop of melted ghee, tastes heavenly here. It’s usually packed throughout the day and a waiting period of at least 20 minutes is a given. But the wait is totally worth it here.

 

 

Rachel Goenka, Founder & CEO,
The Chocolate Spoon Company
Loves to eat at: Dakshin, ITC Maratha, Mumbai

My dad and I both love coastal food and Dakshin at the ITC Maratha is our go-to place when we just want to have some father-daughter time. The food there is amazing. I always prefer the non-veg thali but end up ordering an array of dishes as well from the à la carte menu. The banana fritters with various chutneys is super addictive. I love their appams and neer dosa with prawn gassi, mutton stew and lobster. Of course, no meal is complete here without the legendary filter coffee. Come to think of it, I have a long association with Dakshin. I went there after my civil wedding!

 

Anahita Dhondy, Chef Manager, SodaBottleOpenerWala, Gurugram
Loves to eat at: Leo’s Pizzeria, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi

No one makes pizzas as well as Amol (owner, Leo’s). It’s a limited menu but they make the best wood-fired pizzas I have ever eaten. So rustic and fresh. That’s what I love about it. The toppings keep changing and the specials are always fabulous. I also love the vibe and intimacy of this place. I’ve had lots of funny dinner dates at Leo’s when I have ventured into the kitchen and asked Amol if I could make my pizza! But they are never the same as when he makes them.

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