Long before he became one of the UK’s foremost chefs, Cyrus Todiwala was orchestrating the kitchens and cutting his teeth as an executive chef in Goa, the colourful former Portuguese colony and now party capital of India whose vibrant, Indo-European cuisine has so influenced his own.
Now, after an absence of nearly 25 years, he returns to India, if only to stamp his name and gastronomic signature on the restaurant of Goa’s newest deluxe resort, the Acron Waterfront Resort on the banks of the Baga River.
The River Restaurant is Cyrus Todiwala’s first and only restaurant in India. The 60-seater restaurant, now open, aims to strike a delicate balance between the expectations of international epicureans and locals seeking to experience the tastes, textures and flavours associated with Todiwala’s sophisticated culinary style. The restaurant is run on a day to day basis by Executive Chef Mark Smith, who has been working closely with Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala in the development of dishes that make full use of Goa’s fresh produce. India’s smallest state, Goa is particularly the renowned for its abundant seafood, seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Cyrus Todiwala said, ‘I spent eight formative years in Goa, so The River Restaurant marks a homecoming for me. Before I came here as executive chef of the Taj properties, I was mostly enamoured of classical French and other European cuisines.
‘It was my need to learn more about Goan food to meet the demands of our guests then that led me into a deeper exploration of what Indian food is all about. Goa today is evolving into India’s culinary hub. I hope that this new restaurant enables me to bring to Goa the food innovations I either developed or absorbed as a chef working in Britain, while raising the profile of Goan food in the eyes of the rest of the world.
It is still early days and we are treading carefully and will be evolving ourselves, but in time we hope The River Restaurant will be considered a true bastion of fine cuisine in Goa.’
The launch of The River Restaurant coincides with the first ‘Taste of Goa Food Festival’ taking place in Goa from Friday, 9th – Sunday, 11th January 2015 and organised by the charity Goa for Giving. Joining Cyrus and Pervin Todiwala in India were top British chefs John Feeney, Colin Bussey, Sarah Hartnett and Paul Cunningham who participated in a series of masterclasses and culinary demonstrations sponsored by Churchill China showcasing for local chefs and festival goers emerging trends in British cuisine, including how Goan produce can be used in contemporary British and European dishes. The festival culminates in a gala charity dinner cooked by the British chefs on 11th January at the Acron Waterfront Resort, with all proceeds going to Goa for Giving.