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Y
OR
Some like it hot!
Celebrity chef, Kumar Mahadevan, tells us
why he loves living in Australia and his
SUCCESS ST
passion for promoting the best Indian food.
Indian food has been slow to become popular with
Australians who traditionally go for less spicy fare. But
this is changing. Kumar Mahadevan, one of the first
trained Indian chef’s down under, has two innovative
Indian restaurants that are transforming the way we
see Indian cuisine. Here he talks about how he got
here and why he’s happy to call Australia home.
Q:
Why did you come to Australia?
Kumar maHaDEVaN: “I’ve been in Australia
since 1985. I came from Chennai – the old Madras. In
those days, the Government of India had two restaurants
in the world, one in Sydney and one in London. They
were actually in partnership with the Indian Tea Board.
They were set up to promote tea initially. Then they
decided to promote Indian food. I came out as a head
chef for that restaurant. So my purpose was to promote
Indian food – I got permanent residency and came along.
Q:
What was it like to be working at one of
the only Indian restaurants in Australia? Murg Malai Tikka.
maHaDEVaN: “The restaurant was very high profile.
It was in the centre of the city, in Martin Place. It was
extremely popular and all the big A-listers from around the
world ate there. Actors, singers and so on. It was really top
notch. Even then, they charged A$120 per meal!
Q:
How did you go from there to being a
famous chef who has two renowned
eateries. Scallops Tamateri. Akis Crab Podimas.
maHaDEVaN: Eventually the restaurant closed and I
opened my own restaurant called Abhi’s in a suburb on a challenge. You have to stay on top, It’s like running a
the edge of the city called Concord. That was 20 years race and you are number one. If you don’t think to stay
ago. There were very few restaurants at that time and ahead, you will be taken over by someone else.
very few professional chefs involved in their kitchens. We
were a first. My food was authentically Indian. Australians
were not aware of Indian food. There was a lack of
Q:
What do you like about living in
Australia?
exposure but now it has a better dimension. maHaDEVaN: I love living here. Absolutely. I came
here when I was young. This is the country I cherish
Q:
After all these years in the kitchen what
now. My children grew up here. There is clean air, good
still excites you about Indian food?
people, the acceptance of society, because everyone
maHaDEVaN: I’m still passionate about promoting is a migrant here. It’s a happy country and they play
Indian food and I’ve been successful. We are doing a lot good cricket! The opportunities are good. It’s not a very
more braver things in Wooloomooloo (the city restaurant aggressive market like Europe or other parts of the world
is called Akhi’s), there, we are more innovative. My but the money you make here buys you a better quality
two restaurants are the benchmark of Indian cuisine in of life. The quality of life here is incomparable. You can
Sydney. We are raising the bar all the time. Every day is enjoy both profit and pleasure.
100 INVEST IN AUSTRALIA – INDIA
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