Cyrus Todiwala – A Background
Cyrus Todiwala is Executive Chef & Proprietor, along with his wife Pervin, of Café Spice Namasté, renowned for its innovative and fresh approach to Indian cuisine and now on its 19th year. In autumn 2011, the Todiwalas opened Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, the signature restaurant at the Hilton London Heathrow T5. The 60-seater restaurant offers a number of the dishes available at Cafe Spice Namaste as well as brand new creations showcasing Cyrus and Pervin’s rich Parsee heritage. With their son, Jamsheed, they opened The Park Café in Victoria Park (East London) in 2013 and in 2014 they opened a new Goan-Portuguese restaurant called Assado in London Waterloo by The Old Vic.
Cyrus was born and brought up in Bombay, where his father was the first Indian employee of the Automobile Association and later the Chief of Road Service Western India. Despite his parents’ original fears, Cyrus decided to pursue a career in catering, graduating in Hotel Administration & Food Technology from Bombay’s Basant Kumar Somani Polytechnic and rising to become Corporate Executive Chef of the famous Taj Groups Taj Holiday Village, The Fort Aguada Beach Resort & The Aguada Hermitage in Goa. In 1989 Cyrus joined an old friend to restart a famous restaurant in Poona.
He left India for Australia in 1991, but on the behest of another old friend decided to come to London to run the Namasté restaurant in Alie Street. There, he developed his hallmark style of blending traditional Indian culinary techniques and flavours with more unexpected ingredients. Ever the keen environmentalist (he helped to establish two bird sanctuaries in Goa), to this day Cyrus cooks with organic and sustainable products wherever possible and firmly believes in Buying British.
Cafe Spice Namaste, celebrating its 19th year in November 2014, is a mainstay of all stylish restaurant guides and highly regarded by food critics both in the UK and further afield. The New York Times food writer, Mark Bittman, in February 2012 called it a ‘terrific restaurant’, singling it out as his favourite ‘no fuss’ Indian restaurant in London. Harden’s called it ‘still a winner, after all these years.’ The restaurant has won numerous awards, including the 2011 Sustainable Food Award from the Corporation of London.
In 2010, the first Khaadraas (‘Greedy Pigs’) Club dinner was held at Cafe Spice Namaste, offering Parsees and non-Parsees alike the opportunity to enjoy Parsee heritage cuisine, from recipes passed down to both Cyrus and Pervin by earlier family cooks. Since then, more than thirty club dinners have been held, to increasing large numbers.
Cyrus has been invited to represent both the UK and the world of Indian cuisine in various international festivals, including the World Gourmet Festival held at the Four Seasons Hotel in Bangkok and the Good Food and Wine Show in Durban. In summer 2012, he was the only British-based chef behind the prestigious Stars, Food and Art dinner at the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach, working alongside 7 Michelin-starred chefs culled from around the world. It was left to Cyrus’ to provide the astonishing main course – Duck a’la Mrs Matthew.
In March 2012, Cyrus organised and cooked the very first Diamond Jubilee Luncheon for HM The Queen in London, where Her Majesty was served Cyrus’ version of ‘The Country Captain’, an Indian twist on our traditional Shepherd’s Pie. A few days later, the whole of Britain was able to watch Cyrus prepare this exceptional dish before their eyes on BBC One’s Saturday Kitchen.
Cyrus is the recipient of one of the most cherished awards of his career – the Craft Guild of Chefs Special Award, recognising his contribution to the profession through the years. He has narrated a travelogue-cum-food tour documentary -- ‘Galleons of Spice’ filmed in Goa and Portugal and tracing the influences of the Portuguese on Goan cuisine. The programme has been aired on the History Channel in India and in other parts of Asia. In autumn 2013, he starred in the hit primetime 5-part cookery series, ’The Incredible Spicemen’ on BBC2.
Cyrus has launched a product range under the ‘Mr Todiwala’s’ brand, adding Mr Todiwala’s Splendidly Spicy and Deliciously Hot Pickles and Chutneys in the roster of fine, restaurant-standard products for which he has won Taste Awards. These are available at Cafe Spice Namaste and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, and at various prestigious food fairs including the Abergavenny Food Festival, Real Food Festival, BBC Food Show/MasterChef Live and Taste of Christmas.
Cyrus is married and lives with his wife Pervin who is Operations Director of Café
Spice Namaste, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen and the forthcoming Assado. A trained, professional chef in her own right, in 2013 Pervin’s accomplishments were recognised with a World of Difference Award from The International Alliance for Women. They have two children, an industrial artist and an actor.
Cafe Spice Namaste - www.cafespice.co.uk
Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen - www.mrtodiwalaskitchen.com
The Park Café - www.parkcafeatvictoriapark.co.uk (website will be live soon)
Assado – www.assado.co.uk (website will be live soon)
Cyrus – His Passions
In addition to his dedication to bringing a fusion of flavours and cooking styles to discriminating palettes, Cyrus is committed to investing in the development of skills and opportunities amongst his staff.
In 2013, he launched his brainchild, The Asian Junior Chefs Challenge with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, since rebranded to Zest Quest Asia. The competition is designed to stimulate interest in Asian cuisine as a career among home-grown British chefs. Among others, he also supports Passion to Inspire, a competition to designed to inspire and encourage young people towards cooking and the hospitality industry.
He has been on the Board of Investors in People and as far back as 1998, his commitment to educational and training standards was recognised when he was invited to become a member of the UK government’s National Advisory Counsel for Education and Training Targets. His role included working closely with the Government and key partners on a National Strategy for promoting the importance of learning throughout life and monitoring progress towards Learning Targets, advising Government and its partners at every level on the barriers to their attainment.
Cyrus is committed to the philosophy of lifelong learning and feels that training in his restaurants is ‘almost a religion’. He is dedicated to his involvement in local and sector organisations and to supporting training initiatives. Besides setting up an initiative for accessing NVQ & SVQ for Asian Restaurants with the then Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA), and working on training programmes for his staff at Café Spice Namaste, in the early noughties, Cyrus also worked with two other restaurant owners and London East TEC to establish an Asian and Oriental School of Catering with support from the government’s Skills Development Fund and Single Regeneration Budget. As part of the school, Cyrus helped to set up Zen Satori, an Asian and Oriental restaurant that provided onsite training for all students. He is currently a Trustee of Learning for Life, a charity dedicated to improving educational opportunities for young people in the Sub-Continent & Afghanistan. He was made an Ambassador of World Skills London 2011 and now both he and Pervin are Enterprise Champions of LeSoCo.
Cyrus was also one of the team involved in the NHS Better Food Programme chaired by Lloyd Grossman. A keen environmentalist and an early pioneer of the sustainability movement,
Cyrus is Patron of BuyGB and a member of the steering committee of HRH Prince of Wales Mutton Renaissance Movement. In 2011, he was awarded the Leadership in Sustainability Award from the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Special Award for his commitment to the environment and sustainability from the Footprint Forum.
Cyrus – The Charities & Causes
- Marine Conservation Society - The Marine Conservation Society (MCS) is the voice for everyone who loves the sea. They work to secure a future for our living seas, and to save our threatened sea life before it is lost forever. In April 2014, Cyrus cooked with Tony Singh for the charity’s largest fundraiser, to be held at Cafe Spice Namaste
- Typhoon Haiyan – in December 2013, Cafe Spice Namaste dedicated the Khaadraas Club Dinner to fundraise for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Cyrus prepared a Philippine main dish, giving it a Parsee twist.
- Mastara Chef –Both Cyrus and Pervin Todiwla are members of the Asian Restaurant Skills Board, whose flagship Mastara Chef: Taste the Future programme raises money for training and development of chefs in Asian cuisine. In 2013, Cafe Spice Namaste hosted a fundraising luncheon and in 2014, Cyrus will be cooking with other Indian chefs at a fundraising dinner at the Royal Automobile Club.
- Action Against Hunger – As an Ambassador, involved in annual Fight Hunger, Eat Out campaign; fundraising at Taste of London food festivals; charity dinners at Cafe Spice Namaste; donation of auction and raffle prizes
- Cancer Research UK/Teenage Cancer Trust/MacMillan Cancer Support/ Breast Cancer– As celebrity supporter, donated time and expertise to preparing charity dinners; donated major auction prizes to various events, including annual Cancer Research UK Mistletoe Ball
- Clink Charity – As celebrity supporter, prepared and hosted dinners at London’s City Hall and at Cafe Spice Namaste to support work of charity designed to rehabilitate prisoners
- Find Your Feet – As celebrity supporter, designed speciality menu, part of the proceeds of which go to charity that works in rural India and Malawi to support people to develop sustainable solutions to poverty; ran a charity Master Class to raise awareness of the charity
- Learning for Life – As Patron, provides strategic advice and hosts various charity dinners and auctions at Cafe Spice Namaste to raise funds for charity focussed on providing educational opportunities and empowering women and children in the Sub-continent
- Springboard Charity – As an Ambassador, involved in raising funds for charity promoting hospitality and catering as a worthwhile career and providing advice and support on working in hospitality to the long-term unemployed
- Sustain – As celebrity supporter, hosts dinners to raise funds for various programmes including Capital Growth, which aims to turn London into a food-growing metropolis spearheaded by its citizens
- Time & Talents – As President, provides strategic advice and hosts numerous charity events and auctions, donates prizes to historic charity supporting the disadvantaged in the London boroughs of Rotherhithe and Bermondsey
- The International Alliance for Women (global umbrella network of women’s organisations) – Supported events designed to draw attention to the economic empowerment of women around the globe
- Working Families – Through the Changemaker network, donated prizes to help raise funds for charity that gives advice and guidance on flexible working, maternity rights and discrimination, in-work benefits for parents and carers
- Cyrus has also committed himself to various animal charities and campaigns including Save the Bengal Tiger and the work to save Indian vultures from extinction. In addition, he is actively involved in the Academy of Culinary Arts’ ‘Chefs Adopt A School’ programme which aims to teach young pupils cooking as a life skill.
- Food Cycle - FoodCycle runs volunteer-powered community projects across the UK – working to reduce food poverty and social isolation by serving tasty, nutritious meals to vulnerable groups.
Cyrus – Designations
- Order of the British Empire (OBE) conferred in 2010 by Her Majesty the Queen in 2010 for services to the hospitality Industry
- Deputy Lieutenant (DL) of Greater London, 2009
- Honorary Doctorate in Business Administration, London Metropolitan University
- Fellowship – Master Chefs of Great Britain, 2008.
- Honorary Professor, Thames Valley University London School of Hospitality, Tourism and Leisure, 2005.
- Member of the British Empire (MBE) conferred in 2000 by Her Majesty the Queen in 2000 for services to skills development and training
- Honorary Wild Life Warden for the State of Goa, India
- Who’s Who (2011) – inaugural entry
Cyrus – The Awards
Cyrus is highly acclaimed for his unique style and widely acknowledged as the doyen of creative chefs working in Indian cuisine today. Among the awards and citations gained over the years are:
- BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming Awards – Food Personality of the Year
- Shortlisted, 2013 World Food Award ‘Cookbook of the Year’ –Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India’
- Shortlisted, Specsavers National Book Award – The Incredible Spicemen,2013
- Footprint Awards - Stakeholder Engagement Award - Runner Up - awarded to Cafe Spice Namaste, 2013
- Eat Out Awards 2013 – Finalist – Corporate Social Responsibility and Environment
- Springboard Awards for Excellence – Highly Commended – Corporate Responsibility
- Foodie Top 100 Restaurant, 2013
- Chairman Award 2013 by Craft Guild of Chefs
- Nominated for CSR and Environment by Eat Out Awards, 2013
- 3 Star Sustainability Champion Awarded by Sustainable Restaurant Association
- Highly Commended for the Corporate Responsibility Award, 2013
- Special Award, Craft Guild of Chefs, 2012
- Highly Commended, Food (Independent Restaurants), RSPCA Good Business Awards, 2012
- Footprint Forum Award for Commitment to the Environment, 2011
- London Chamber of Commerce & Industry Leadership in Sustainability Award, 2011
- Sustainable Food Award, Corporation of London Sustainable Cities Awards 2011
- Mood Food 2009 Restaurant of the Year
- Highly Commended Sustainable Food - Sustainable Cities Awards 2009
- Finalist - Cateys 2008 Green Award
- Finalist - Sustainability Cities Awards for Environmental Improvement in SME’s 2008
- British Curry Awards Industry Personality of the Year 2007
- Arena Accolade, 2006
- Green Mark Award, 2006
- Springboard Special Award, 2006
- Cateys Education and Training Award, 2005
- Investors in People Champion Organisation,2005
- Springboard Special Award, 2005
- Edge Employers Award, 2005
- Green Apple Award for Environmental Best Practice, 2005
- BIBA Restaurant Personality of the Year,2005
- Tio Pepe ITV London Restaurant Awards– Outstanding Contribution to London Restaurants 2004
- BIBA Best Indian restaurant in the UK, 2004
- BIBA Best Front of House – for Pervin Todiwala 2003
- National Training Award 1997
- Finalist- Time Out Indian Restaurant of the Year, 1995 & 1996
- Culinary Honour of Merit – Epicurean World Master Chefs Society
- Best Indian Chef in the UK
Cyrus – Publications
Cyrus has also written five books:
- Café Spice Namaste : New Wave Indian Cooking, Ebury Press 1999
- International Cuisine : India, Hodder Arnold, 2005
- Indian Summer, Inkwell Media 2008
- The Incredible Spicemen with Tony Singh, Ebury/BBC, 2013
- Mr. Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes and Memories from India, Hardie Grant, 2013
Cyrus – The Media Commentator
- As a pioneer of Indian cuisine, Cyrus regularly appears on a number of key newspapers as well as television and radio programmes. These include:
- Incredible Spicemen – BBC 2 Prime Time
- Galleons of Spice – History Channel
- BBC Television and Radio – Food & Drink, Network Southeast, Money
- Matters, UK Today, BBC World Service, Radio 4, Saturday Kitchen, Master
- Chefs, Eggheads, Real Hustle
- LBC Radio – Tom Parker Bowles Food & Drink Programme
- Regularly Featured on Market Kitchen 2008 – 2009-2010
- Taste of Jumeirah 2008
- Dubai Television with Chef Osama
- Bill Buckley Show
- SKY TV on SKY 1
- UK TV / FOOD LIVE
- Channel Four Big Breakfast 4
- Carlton Food Network
- Channel Four – Light Lunch, Sunday Brunch, Paul O’Grady’s show , Master Chefs
- Channel Five, News Live critique on food
- Talk Radio
- Heart FM
- Radio 5 Live
- Features in press – including Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times, The Observer, London Evening Standard, Guardian, Sun, Sunday Mirror, The Independent, Tandoori, Zhaika, Square Meal, Time Out, Delicious, Olive, Closer, Restaurant Magazine, Caterer & Hotelkeeper, Metro, Blue Tomato, Caterer & Hotelkeeper (December 2011 cover story)
Cyrus – The Judge
As a valued and respected connoisseur of Indian cuisine, Cyrus has been on the
judging panels as an expert judge for various competitions. Among these:
- Sodexo UK & Ireland Chef of the Year
- Ethnic Award – The Craft Guild of Chefs
- Lord Mayor of London’s Dragon Awards
- Beacon Supplier Awards
- British Meats Chef of the Year Competition
- BBC Food & Farming Awards
- Knorr National Chef of the Year Awards
- Southeast Chef of the Year
- Norwegian Seafood National Chef of the Year
- Catey Education and Training
- International Indian Chef of the Year Competition
- National Training Awards
- Springboard Awards of Excellence
- Young Guns (Springboard UK)
- Future Chefs (Springboard UK)
- Acorn Awards (Caterer & Hotelkeeper)
Cyrus – The Guest Speaker
- Skandia International Conference
- Further Education Sussex Awards ceremony
- Welsh Lamb Club (at the Institute of Directors, 2012)
- PACE (2014)
Cyrus – Directorships & Trusteeships
- Non-executive Board Member, Investors in People UK
- Director, Hospitality Skills Academy
- Advisory Committee London Food Board
- Director, Asian & Oriental School of Catering, Hoxton (past)
- Trustee, Learning for Life
- President, The Time & Talents Association
- Chairman, London Food Waste Committee (past)
Cyrus – Professional Memberships and Affiliations
Cyrus has a number of Professions Memberships and Affiliations:
- Fellow, Epicurean World Master Chef’s Society
- Fellow, Royal Society of Arts (Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts,
- Manufactures and Commerce)
- Fellow of The Master Chefs of Great Britain
- Fellow of The Institute of Hospitality FHCIMA
- Member, Craft Guild of Chefs
- Member, Academy of Culinary Arts (involvement in Adopt-A-School Programme
- Member, Mutton Renaissance Movement Steering Committee
- Member of The Scotch Beef Club
- Member of the Guild Of Fine Food Retailers
- Member of The British Hospitality Association.
- Member of The Food Development Association
- Member of Campaign For Real Food (Promoting British Food)
- Former Member, British Hospitality Association Steering Committee
- ‘Tourism Means Business’
- Former Member, Restaurant Association Education and Training Committee
- Former Member, NHS Better Hospital Food Programme Panel chaired by Lloyd Grossman
- Former Member, National Advisory Council for Education and Training
- Targets (NACETT) in 1999
- Member, Sector-based Skills Advisory Committee advising Home Office on work permits programme
- Member Steering Committee London Sustainability Exchange
- Member Steering Committee Greener Food Britain
- London Advisory Board Member-Springboard UK