The chef behind Purple Poppadom is a bit of a celebrity amongst foodies in Cardiff and with the openings of Munchesters and The Pickled Pepper last week, Anand George is a very busy man. The Grill & Barrel were pleased to squeeze in a quick interview with the culinary genius.
When did you start cooking?
I’m a commerce graduate and then I went to culinary school to be trained as a chef, so I did my two years on my programme with The Hotel Group and then I worked in a hotel for four years. I then came to London in 2005.
What are your culinary influences?
A lot of my inspiration comes from food that I’ve eaten and what I’ve seen. I come from a background where the food has a big importance in my family so I’ve seen a lot of different cuisines. All over India, if you look at the foods, it is a country of cuisines and I’ve travelled extensively in India working with the hotels so my influences came from things that I saw. Then I went to London for a few years, which refined me; so I take what I’ve seen and I started putting it into a better presentation and better flavours.
I try to take my customers on a different journey with the flavours and spices.
How would you describe the food offered at your new restaurant, Munchesters?
An essence of India, that’s what I would call it. Basically mine and Kuldeep Singh’s (the Head Chef) backgrounds are in Michelin star restaurants and we’ve known each other for 12 years. The style of cooking in those restaurants always fascinated us; they would bring something new to old dishes.
The thing we wanted to work on were the wraps; they are chapattis, a traditional Indian bread, but the filling is more of a French style of cooking, so the wraps have more flavours. There’s also an Indian essence to it; we add spices and things to give it a twist.
It’s basically like a daytime offering whereas Purple Poppadom is a fine dining restaurant.
What is your next venture now that you’ve opened Munchesters?
I have one more that started yesterday; The Pickled Pepper. That’s a franchise take away in Penarth. We just started.
You’re very much a food entrepreneur then!
[Laughs] I also have a tie with The Vale of Glamorgan, the hotel. Basically we do events conferences and Asian weddings for them. The food is cooked by me in Purple Poppadom.
So how are you going to spend your time between your restaurants?
I have a team of chefs in Poppadom. At the moment I train them but I’m here in the day times (Munchesters) and in the evenings I’m over there.
What is your favourite dish to cook?
(Laughs) I can’t say that there is one favourite dish to cook. I like the challenge of creating new dishes. I like taking a classical dish that I’ve eaten years ago and to convert it and get it accepted by my customers here; that’s where I see the challenge. That’s what I love and the passion that I drive for.
At the moment I’m working on a new menu and I’m seeing how I can twist it. Like we are trying to make a tomato ice cream, a spiced tomato ice cream, so I’m trying to think how do we present it, what would go with it.
So what would go with a tomato ice cream?
We are looking at a mushroom kitchari, so it’s like a mushroom risotto with an Indian twist. But then how do you plate it? It’ll be in a quenelle shape of risotto but with a coin sized poppadum on top of the risotto and a half semi spoon of the ice cream. I’m also working with truffles so a little bit of truffle oil. So I’m seeing what the best Indian dishes are that are accepted by customers and I’m bringing in my own touches.
What is your favourite meal?
I love biriyanis. It’s a wholesome meal; you have your rice and meat but I love any good food it doesn’t have to be Indian. It just has to have a good flavour. I keep myself open.
You’re very passionate about your food, is that the secret to your success?
I am passionate about what I do, very passionate. You can’t lose that. I believe my food talks for me. We put a substantial amount of effort into it and everytime we do something, we want it to be new.