8th July 2013

An interview with Vivek Singh

The Cinnamon Club, Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho chef

The established Cinnamon Club is usually a safe bet for most Indian restaurant shortlists, and it duly made it onto our pick of the best Indian restaurants in London and the rest of the UK. Chef Vivek Singh creates exciting new-wave Indian dishes to be served in the grand surroundings of the Old Westminster Library. And he didn't stop there, opening two other popular Indian restaurants in the capital – Cinnamon Kitchen and Cinnamon Soho. We caught up with Vivek to talk cooking, chefs and his favourite restaurants.

The Cinnamon Club

Vivek on food and cooking

What 3 ingredients couldn't you cook without?
Chilli, salt, and water.

Why do you think food and cooking has become so fashionable?
I think the less you see of something the more you desire it. With changing lifestyles and family structure, kids see less and less cooking at home. That coupled with a wealth of cookery programs on television, means that cooking is the new rock and roll!

What is your favourite time of the year for food, and why?
It has to be autumn.  As it starts to get colder, a whole range of mushrooms and game begin to come into season. These ingredients have such a unique flavour so I always look forward to autumn with great anticipation.

What is the most underrated ingredient?
Lentils. They’re very economical, versatile and a great source of protein for vegetarians.


Vivek Singh.jpgChefs and influences

What is a common mistake that lets chefs down?
Using too many ingredients in one dish or trying to do too much.  It’s difficult to understand as a young chef that less is more.

Who are the chefs to watch at the moment?
Tom Sellers is definitely a bright star for the future. I’m also a huge admirer of Eric Chavot – he’s going to explode in 2014!

Who was your greatest influence?
My dad. He taught me that the only boundaries that exist are the ones in your mind.

Tell us three chefs you admire.
Jason Atherton (Pollen Street Social & Social Eating House) – he is really forward thinking and loves to deconstruct dishes and give them a new twist.
Nuno Mendes (Viajante) – I admire the way he connects different influences from around the world and gives them his own interpretation.
Pierre Koffman (Koffman's) – I love how he loves to cook even after all these years.


Favourite restaurants

Do you have a favourite new restaurant?
I absolutely love Eric Chavot’s new place, Brasserie Chavot.

Which restaurant do you return to again and again?
Roka. I love the fresh flavours of Japanese food.

Which restaurant best sums up British cooking today?
The Gilbert Scott at the St. Pancras Hotel.

Which out of the way restaurant is worth a trip?
Tom Kerridge’s The Hand and Flowers in Marlow. It’s one of my favourite places to eat. What he’s done there is fantastic.


Vivek's dishes

At the end of a long day what do you like to cook?
A spicy omelette.

What was your first professional dish?
It was an orange flavoured paneer kofta dish. It’s embarrassing now – what was I thinking?!

Which of your dishes are you most fond of?
There are too many to mention but I have to admit I am partial towards the game dishes that we put on our menu every autumn. I love cooking with game as it’s completely unique and has such rich, complex flavours.

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