On the Daily: Indian restaurant Mohalla Head Chef Adwait Anantwar

by Dina Maaty | Published 2 weeks ago

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Adwait Anantwar is head chef of homegrown Indian restaurant Mohalla, located in D3.

9am: I have always been more of a night person, so I’m definitely NOT an early riser, I wake up to my favourite music as the alarm. Music is an important part of my morning hours. I like to play some classic rock or jazz. Frank Sinatra, bill withers and scorpions are my favourites to start the day with. I like to make my bed neat and tidy; it gives a feeling of accomplishment.

10am: I tend to do things at a slower pace as I start my day, I head to the kitchen prepare myself our South Indian filtered coffee, some orange juice and cheese or make an omelette. I like to have my breakfast in the balcony (yes, even though it’s hot outside). I water some of the plants on the balcony and check the day’s schedule and meetings, if any.

11am: I iron my uniform, shower and commute to work.

12am: Once I arrive, I make sure to greet each and every individual present. I go around the kitchen and storage to check that everything is in place and that the cleaning had been done. We thoroughly do quality checks of the products as and when we receive them.

12.30pm: I do the sample tasting of all the dishes, along with our sous chefs to ensure we’re consistent with our food. This has helped us a lot in maintaining our standards.

1pm: Since we’re located at Dubai Design District, we get super busy for lunch. I sometimes work at the pass or let our sous chefs take control, and I either supervise or get my hands dirty in dispensing the orders from the curry section. This helps me stay sharp with my cooking skills.

As we do takeaways in reusable stunning crockery, we have to be careful when plating for deliveries, and so I also oversee this.

4pm: As lunch slows down, I check emails, stock reports and inventories, and check the orders placed for the day. I coordinate with our finance manager to keep a close eye on daily costs. He has been very helpful to me, in learning the different aspects involved in the restaurant business.

5pm: I have my lunch and talk to my parents as they are back there in India. I make it a point that I speak to my parents every day.

5.30pm: Study and brainstorming sessions. I always like to keep up with what’s happening in the culinary world, not just in UAE, but also globally. I study chefs and restaurants all over the world, the latest trends, happening restaurants and also Indian cuisine and its deep roots.
I like to read different articles published on Indian food history. The Late K.T Achaya and Pushpesh Pant are some of the pioneering food historians of India, whose work has helped me learn so many unknown facts about the cuisine.

I always like to have a brainstorming session with my chefs and come up with new ideas. They are not just about food. We discuss a lot on different topics, such as sustainability, food wastage, supporting locally sourced ingredients and businesses.

As mentioned, we started using stunning reusable crockery for takeaway and delivery boxes, which was a result of such sessions we conduct every now and then, and has really set Mohalla apart from other restaurants, in the delivery game.

We also decided to launch our weekend breakfast menu, with a focus on our handmade masala dosa. We had so many requests for this breakfast dish to be launched, as customers trust Mohalla as the go-to restaurant for authentic Indian.

6.30pm: At this hour of the day, we conduct a team meeting. We discuss all the right things we did and mistakes which may have occurred, and how we can overcome them.

We also discuss sales, customer complaints, which items to push and the daily bestsellers. We always talk about new ideas. This has helped us dispense food with speed and accuracy, even though we have a small kitchen in comparison to table turnovers, especially during weekends.

7.30pm: Though we’re located at D3, which is mostly an office crowd, we still have a lot of guests (Emirati, especially) travelling to D3 for our food. I spend most of my time at the pass or talking to customers and getting their feedback.

If we are not busy, I like to spend this time studying and brainstorming new ideas for the menu. Since we’re going to open in Riyadh in the coming year, I’ve already started studying and researching restaurants there and what kind of food the local crowd prefers. It’s going to be an exciting opportunity to compete with more established brands.

11pm: Once the last order is dispensed from the kitchen, I check the closing and if anything is required on an urgent basis, so that we can place orders with suppliers and ensure a smooth operation the next day.

I change out of my uniform and get into my running shorts and t-shirt. Remember, I started the interview saying that I’m more of a night person. Being a chef, it’s very important that we follow some exercise routine, since it becomes difficult to stick to a proper diet, due to constantly trying and tasting all the food going out to customers.

I walk, run and sprint a 7k track along the canal to my home. Sometimes, I skip the run and go out with friends for dinner or drinks, or play a few rounds of pool.

12am: I reach home, cool down for a bit and then shower. I reply to any unanswered texts I received during the day or check Instagram.

12.30am: Sometimes, I get hungry, so I order food, halloumi and shawarma from Operation Falafel, one my favourites. I like to watch some random stuff just to unwind and chill, mostly about food, travel or some stand-up comedy, or I listen to my dad’s music, which he records on karaoke apps. Yes, a love of music has been in my family for generations.

2am: AND that’s a wrap, I head to bed (I try and remember to turn the lights off).

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