Five minutes with Samyukta Nair
Samyukta Nair is the culinary entrepreneuer behind some of Mayfair’s most loved restaurants. We at delicious. are a bit in awe of the portfolio: from Michelin starred Jamavar, to dosa at Bombay Bustle, or dim sum-heaven at luxurious Mimi Mei Fair, headed up by Peter Ho. Then there’s Socca a French bistro, with Claude Bosi.
Her latest opening, KOYN is a Japanese dining experience, impressive décor guaranteed. Food will come from a marbled sushi bar backed by an illuminated mirror scape, or a charcoal bobata grill. Executive Chef Rhys Cattermoul will showcase both rich umami flavours, as well as fresh sushi, such as a jaw dropping lobster tempura sushi roll.
We caught up with Samyukta to find out what her desert island dish would be, and the secrets behind the inspiration for her amazing group of restaurants.
What’s your very first memory of food?
Mangoes. There’s a special kind of African mango, which was brought back by my grandparents in the form of a sapling from their travels, that’s grown at my family home in Mumbai that I distinctly remember eating as a child. Until today, it remains my favourite fruit and I am thrilled I get to pay homage to it with our Alphonso Mango menu at Jamavar London every year.
What’s the first recipe you properly learned to make?
Creamy, slow-cooked scrambled eggs were taught to me by my father. The trick lies in adding a tablespoon of chopped chives and chillies, along with a quarter cup of crumbled cheddar cheese. It’s best eaten on toasted brioche.
What do you like to do to relax?
I love to visit galleries and museums, listen to music, read. And I always make the time to get away to cities I’ve never been to.
What’s the one dish you can’t live without?
Dosa – I absolutely love it! It’s a staple in most Indian homes but the aloo dosa at Bombay Bustle is my grandmother’s recipe and reminds me of home.
What ingredient would you take to a desert island with you?
I can’t set my mind on one ingredient in particular, but I would carry a host of condiments with me. Aioli, honey mustard, sriracha, tamari and truffle salt.
You can have a one-off dinner party on your island… who would you invite?
Gosh, that’s a little tough, but Chris Martin would be pretty high up on the list!
What has it been like setting up your restaurants: Bombay Bustle, Jamavar, KOYN, Socca, and Mimi Mei Fair? How do you come up with your ideas?
It’s been a serendipitous journey for me at LSL Capital – one that hasn’t always been straight lined! I am blessed to be doing something I am incredibly passionate about, with a great team and a wonderful community who constantly support me. I draw inspiration from everywhere – literature, film, a piece of music, art, design and fashion. For me, one thing flows into the other, and I firmly believe you are here to establish an aesthetic. We are moving from form to form, but the original juice comes from the same place.
What’s your favourite dish on the menu at your restaurants at the moment?
I am a little obsessed with our egg white black bean tiger prawn with lao gan ma, that we’ve recently introduced as part of our spring-summer menu at MiMi Mei Fair.
What has been the most formative experience of your career?
Re-gaining our Michelin star at Jamavar London is probably where it’s at for me, but it’s a testament to the talent of our Culinary Director and Executive Chef Surender Mohan as well as the collective effort of our team as a whole.
What restaurant means the most to you?
I adore Nello in New York – I have the fondest memories of eating there with my parents through the years.
It’s 8pm, you’ve just got home. What are you rustling up?
A mixed green salad, charcuterie board and a glass of champagne.
Is there anything about the food industry that bugs you? We’d like to hear your thoughts…
The food industry is incredibly competitive and cut throat, so perhaps a more collaborative spirit might be nice.
Can you tell us a bit more about your current restaurant projects?
The next quarter is incredibly exciting for us! We are opening KOYN which draws from Japan’s natured-spirited roots and opens doors on the 9th of September. It’s off Grosvenor Street in Mayfair, with the kitchen team being led by Executive Chef Rhys Cattermoul.
Following that, we have Socca, where I have the privilege to partner with culinary veteran Claude Bosi to pay homage to the coastal towns of Cannes, Marseille and Nice, with an emphasis on French-Mediterranean style dishes and wines by the glass.
Do you have any aspirations and dreams you’ve yet to fulfill?
To me this is only the beginning for us at LSL Capital. I’m very excited and want to keep doing more. Most of my memories have been made around the dining table and my endeavour is to bring that joy forward by way of my establishments for many others to enjoy and experience.
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