What's Burning podcast

029: Chintan Pandya - Executive Chef / Partner Unapologetic Foods

Rewind 15 seconds
Fast Forward 15 seconds

Born in Mumbai, Chintan became interested in the culinary world at a young age. When of age, he enrolled in one of the most prestigious culinary schools in India, the Oberoi Centre of Learning & Development where he trained under the finest chefs from Oberoi Hotels. His professional career began at a hotel restaurant in Mumbai, where he spent eight years in the kitchen learning traditional Indian cuisine and techniques. During this time, Chintan traveled throughout the sub-continent in order to develop a deeper connection with the way locals ate and became well versed in the bold spices and dishes he came across.

Eventually Chintan left India for bigger opportunities. His culinary career took him to an extremely diverse set of locales including Singapore, Cleveland, Atlanta, and finally New York. It was in New York that Chintan joined the Michelin-starred Junoon for a brief stint before he met restaurateur Roni Mazumdar in 2017 and became the chef at the modern and upscale Rahi, followed by Adda Indian Canteen for which Chintan was the winner of the 2019 StarChefs New York Rising Star and within a year after Adda opened the restaurant was on the short list to be nominated for a James Beard Foundation award for “Best New Restaurant” Food & Wine Magazine’s "Top Ten Best New Restaurants 2019", Eater National's Best New Restaurants 2019” and Bon Appetit's "Top 50 Best New Restaurants of 2019". In 2020, Chintan was looked at as a finalist for the James Beard Foundation Awards "Best Chef in the NY Region". In 2021 the duo opened Dhamaka, for which Chintan won The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef New York State. The first win in this category for an Indian chef. Dhamaka was also named the #1 restaurant of the year by The New York Times, Esquire Magazine, and one of the top 50 restaurants in the country by The New York Times. Dhamaka was also nominated for the James Beard Foundation “Best New Restaurant of 2021” award.

Chintan has also taken cuisine to the next level by partnering with artist Mattia Casalegno in Aerobanquets RMX, a virtual reality experience combining food and fantasy, which took place at the James Beard House, and continues to tour the globe. In 2022, he and partner Mazumdar opened the quick service eatery Rowdy Rooster serving Indian spiced fried chicken for which Food & Wine Magazine named them as one of 16 people and companies changing the way we eat and drink in 2022. The pair will soon open Kebabwala celebrating India’s long tradition of fresh, and flavorful, kebabs which vary across the country, and Masalawala located in Park Slope, Brooklyn featuring regional Indian cuisine.

Chef Pandya’s mission is to push the boundaries of what Indian food means in America. He continues to break new ground on an under-appreciated but phenomenal cuisine.

On this episode, Chintan joins host Mitchell Davis and discusses Fun Dining vs. Fine Dining, the importance of being financially savvy, and why it’s okay to be shellfish in learning.

Follow Chintan on Instagram @chefchintan.

For more on Chintan and his restaurants, visit: https://unapologeticfoods.nyc/

More episodes from "What's Burning"