Vivek Singh, the Executive Chef of London’s venerable Cinnamon Club, is rushing about the magnificently appointed interior of the club, a grand old Victorian building which once housed the Old Westminster Library.
He’s toting what can only be described as an over-worked iPad, and an even more exhausted-looking iPhone – fielding calls, arranging meetings, checking Specials and making sure everything is just right before lunch service gets underway.
It’s unsurprising that the tech in his hands is being taken to the very edge.
Quite apart from overseeing the more than 100 bookings expected at the Club on a drab, wet Monday afternoon, the India-born Singh is also charged with running the Club’s latest off-shoots – the Cinnamon Kitchen and Anise in the City and the new ‘Casual Dining’ experience Cinnamon Soho.
The poor Apple products.
Parliament Square just down the road from the Club maybe the scene of frequent anti-capitalism demonstrations but business across the Cinnamon empire is booming, nearly a decade and a half since it opened its doors to the public.
It broke new ground at the outset – so much so that the BBC was moved to do a documentary series charting the establishment of the Club – in taking Indian food upmarket.
Some – in fact, many – were sceptical. How posh can you make a Chicken Tikka Masala? Are punters supposed to pay for the use of exquisite porcelain?
But Chef Vivek – who disregarded his family’s pleas to become an engineer and turned to cooking instead, thank God for that – and Cinnamon have defied expectations.
The food remains sublime – Tatler placed it among its top London restaurants last year, raving about the “incredible things” Chef Vivek was doing with game birds and the fashionable new ingredient on the market, Offal.
This week the Club won the top award at the annual British Curry Awards – best in Central London.
The UKAsian caught up with the Chef Vivek to talk innovation, strait-jackets, authenticity and favourite haunts.