New Careers : 29. Private Kitchen by Shuchi Mittal

I came across Shuchi through a common friend & was intrigued by her passion for food. Her ability to give twist to Indian cuisine and transform it to a Global dish. Its phenomenal right? What I found more intriguing was her passion to do so. She was trained to be an engineer and worked in finance, and left it all to pursue her love for food. Lets hear more about her exciting life!

For how long have you wanted to be a chef and been into The Private Kitchen? 

I always wanted to do something professionally with food, but it wasn't up until 2012 (when we moved to New York) that I got the opportunity to try my hands at making a career from it. My private kitchen is around 1.5 years old. 

What was your childhood like? 

I spent my childhood in a boarding school so, even though our school had it's 'specials', rather tasteless to say the least. I craved the holidays for simple home food, street treats, family dinners and mom bear hugs. 

Your cuisine is so unique, so, where do you draw your inspiration from? 

From the lack of understanding about Indian cuisine globally! People only know the side of Indian dishes that are made popular by restaurants. However, the food we eat at is a vastly different genre, and also diverse across homes in India. I try to use simple, traditional recipes as the foundation for my tasting menus, while incorporating seasonal, locally available and creative ingredients to create an experience that is playful, colorful, unique and yet [hopefully] delicious!

Tell us about 29 calories & why the name? 

A medium sized red onion has 29 calories in it. The very same onion that is a basic ingredient in most Indian curries. 

29. Calories was conceived as a food blog back in 2009, to chronicle my culinary experiments. It's business arm, 29. Private Kitchen, is a social dining concept creating prix-fixe tasting menus for supper clubs, popup dining experiences and private events. Centred around small plates & tapas inspired by the unexposed genre of home-style Indian cuisine, I am trying to give ‘curry’ a pretty significant facelift. The idea is to use creative food as a medium to connect, inspire & collaborate with individuals & businesses alike, and create meals that are more than just dinner. They are a dining table adventure. 

Were you always a chef? How did the transition take place?

No, I am an engineer and an MBA, and worked in finance prior to becoming a [self taught] chef. New York was the turning point. I realised people had a one dimensional view about Indian cuisine - that it's heavy, greasy, only 'curry' and a cheap take-out not to be repeated more than once in 3 months. That is when I decided to swap finance for a frying pan, and set out to change that perception. I wanted to showcase how Indian dishes can be sophisticated, healthier, and just as gourmet as some others out there. 

You are doing some awesome work, so how big is your team? 

It's just me. I am the chef, website developer, partnership co-ordinator, idea generator, event organizerrecipe consultant, menu curator, PR & social media manager, host, story teller & less glamorously, a dish washer!

West Elm & 29. are partnering on July 29th. So, if you are as intrigued as I am, then be a part of the selected 12 people by booking your spot here.

Photo Courtesy : Gayatri Nair Photography

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