Harper's Bazaar March 2016 - Page 193

CHEF BENJAMIN PAUL ING Canadian chef Benjamin Paul Ing pulled a culinary coup this January as he took over as head chef at Noma. And he did it in under two years of employment, at only 30 years of age. He’s in charge of the Noma popup in Sydney until it closes in April, but the work doesn’t end there. Because Noma, arguably the most influential restaurant in a world, is in a state of flux. As we know it, the Copenhagen hotspot has closed its doors, only to reopen sometime next year as an urban farm with a new menu. And Ing, who has worked at famed restaurants like New York City’s Cafe Boulud and Eleven Madison Park, will be at the helm of carving the brand’s new identity. Ing’s appointment comes as the restaurant’s for mer head chef, Daniel Giusti, moved to the United States with his new venture, Brigaid, which aims to revolutionise school lunches by placing chefs in schools. (From top) Marrow with pickled vegetables at Noma; chef Benjamin Paul Ing. RESTAURATEUR NAMITA PANJABI (Clockwise from top left) Namita Panjabi; venison samosa at Chutney Mary; crab cake at Amaya. London-based restaurateur Namita Panjabi has mastered the art of culinary time travel—she not only manages one of the world’s oldest Indian restaurants, Veeraswamy, but also the city’s hottest new one, Chutney Mary, which opened last year. By switching between identities, and creating new ones, Panjabi has changed the perception of Indian cuisine. “No two days are the same. You have to wear many different hats in one day when the restaurants have such distinct personalities and markets,” says Panjabi, who runs MW Eats—the umbrella company—with her husband and sister. Under its aegis: Masala Zone, a chain of Indian street food and thalis; Amaya, a Michelin-starred modern-Indian restaurant that focuses on traditional grills; Veeraswamy, which they bought about 16 years ago and celebrates its 90th anniversary in 2016; and Chutney Mary, which first opened in 1990 but then moved to an elegant spot on St James’s Street. “This is a heady mix of creativity and business. It’s about pushing frontiers and the celebration of all things Indian, whether its design, hospitality, or food,” says Panjabi, who has had careers as a merchant banker, and as a merchandiser in Mumbai for a buying company that worked with luxury stores like Harrods and Bloomingdales. She moved to London after she met her husband, and entered the food industry at her sister’s suggestion. Now, she oversees décor and food across the brands. “At Amaya, we have Babu Xavier paintings, Agra sandstone, and Indian rosewood. At Masala Zone, we brought artists like warli painters from Jangarh to paint on the walls,” she says. The seven Masala Zones, which started 15 years ago, now feed half a million people every day with thalis and chaat—they’ve made them cool. IMAGES COURTESY CYCLONEBILL/FLICKR; MIKKEL HERIBA; MW EATS; BBVA THE ROCA BROTHERS (Fropm left) The World, with five bites representing five different countries; Jordi, Joan, and Josep Roca. They toppled Noma from the top of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List for El Celler de Can Roca, created the Food Innovation Centre in Girona, Spain, and were appointed UN Goodwill Ambassadors in January—if there were ever any doubts that the Roca brothers are culinary gamechangers, 2015 dispelled them all. Even as their restaurant celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, the brothers Joan, Jordi, and Josep show no signs of slowing down. And their focus isoninnovation—taketheir2014worldgastronomic tour, in which the entire team closed the restaurant temporarily to travel to four countries (adocumentary ontheirtrip,CookingupaTribute,producedbyBBVA, premiered at the 2015 Berlin Film Festival). n 193