Vineet Bhatia is widely regarded as the face of modern progressive Indian cuisine. Born in Mumbai, he got early culinary inspiration from his mother, whom he describes as “an excellent cook with a fantastic imagination,” and the eclectic city, which he says is “a melting pot of culinary delights from all over the many different regions of India”.
His first dream was to join the Air Force but after failing the physical assessment he decided to throw himself into a completely different pursuit. Catering college followed and in 1988 he was recruited by the Oberoi hotel group as a trainee chef. Working in their hotels in Khajuraho and New Delhi, he covered all aspects of Indian cuisine, eschewing the French culinary heritage his peers were focused on assimilating. After completing his training, he was appointed as Executive Chef of the Mewar and Kandahar restaurants at their hotel in Mumbai. But he found these traditional kitchens too rigid, allowing him no freedom to experiment, so he decided to leave for the UK in 1993.
His first position was at the Star of India in South Kensington. By the end of his first year he had changed the style of food from Anglicised ‘curries’ to more authentic, epicurean delights. He and his business partners then opened Zaika in 1999, and in 2001 he was awarded a Michelin star, becoming the first Indian chef-patron to receive such an accolade.
In 2004, Vineet opened Rasoi (meaning “kitchen”), fulfilling his dream of having a restaurant that he and his wife could call their own. Cooking modern, progressive Indian cuisine, he says of his food: “My cooking is from my heart and from my mind. You can’t pigeonhole and say that it’s from south India or north India, it’s a blend of cuisine from within India, but we use local British products and we give them a new dimension”.
Vineet now has an impressive portfolio of consultancies in Mauritius, Geneva, Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and India. In 2009, Rasoi by Vineet at the Mandarin Oriental in Geneva was bestowed its own Michelin star.