Pioneering Indian chef Vivek Singh, CEO of London’s famed Cinnamon Club empire, has been awarded an honorary doctorate of letters from the University of Warwick in recognition of his efforts in developing Indian cuisine in the UK.
Mr Singh, 44, was honoured at the University’s winter convocation on 21 January by Vice Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift.
Professor Thrift said: “We are delighted to present Vivek with a Warwick honorary degree for his significant contribution to the development of Indian cuisine in the UK. As a university, Warwick shares Vivek’s passion for food which can be most clearly seen in our Global Research Priorities Programme for Food, which brings together researchers from all disciplines to explore issues of food production and supply, environmental and social sustainability, social justice, nutrition and public health.”
West Bengal-born Mr Singh had first came to prominence in his native India – a graduate of the Institute of Hotel Management and Culinary Arts in Delhi, Mr Singh would go on to work at the prestigious Oberoi Grand in Calcutta and the world-renowned Raj Vilas resort in Jaipur.
He entered Britain’s culinary consciousness in early 2001 when he teamed up with restaurant promoter Iqbal Wahhab to establish The Cinnamon Club in Central London.
The duo transformed the magnificent old Westminster library across the street from the Houses of Parliament, taking the humble curry up-market in one fell swoop.
The restaurant was such a pioneering venture that the BBC was moved to make a documentary chronicling the birth of a restaurant that has since gone on to become the benchmark for the Indian fine dining scene in the UK.
Mr Singh has since taken over the Cinnamon Club and expanded the business to include several new innovative outlets, including Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise, Cinnamon Soho and Joho Soho, a new restaurant that marries the modern craze for authentic street food with the Cinnamon Club’s dedication to quality ingredients and modern cooking techniques.
In its citation for Mr Singh, the university invoked the chef’s personal mantra ‘Innovation Today Forms the Basis of Tradition Tomorrow’ in his success.
“The University of Warwick and I share many of the same aspirations and goals, as well as a love for the food industry, and I look forward to building a lasting relationship with Professor Thrift and his talented team”, Mr Singh said.
The University also lauded Mr Singh’s charitable initiatives, in particular his work with the children’s charity Wooden Spoon, Action Against Hunger and the government-backed Asian Restaurant Skills Board.