Mumbai born Avadhoot Kamat took the helm of Zaman restaurant at The Sportsman Casino in last year April, and within months of taking charge, not only he was named as the 'Asian Chef of the Year' at the 8th Asian Curry Awards but at the same time grabbed the 'Best International Restaurant' title.
Kamat was born in Mumbai and gained his cooking knack from his parents but was also greatly inspired by the street foods of his city. He studied his craft at IHM, Goa and then went on to train at five-star Orchid hotel in Mumbai. He arrived in the UK in 2006, to study at Ealing Hammersmith and West London College, where he got a postgraduate diploma in hospitality management. He told Asian Voice, “During my free and allowed hours, I would walk around in London and knock on the doors of restaurants distributing my resume. And one day, I landed an interview at the Metropolitan Hotel in Park Lane.”
After almost 6 years at that hotel, he moved to Crown Aspinalls London, a members' club and worked there for again almost 6 years, before becoming the head chef of the Zaman restaurant at The Sportsman Casino in Marble Arch, London. He has also worked at Michelin-starred Benares and the world-class French brasserie L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon.
Now Kamat has brought his fine expertise to Zaman, where his influence on the new menu is quite evident. “Our menu is very international,” he said. “From Punjabi samosa to salads to soup to mezze to grill to noodles to pasta to biriyani- we have many varieties. The clientele here is very international. They are widely travelled and they want authentic and easy going food. You can't fool them with wrong flavours.”
Kamat has added Punjabi samosas and chaat to the menu, that reminds one of street foods in India. “If I get a chance in the future, I would like to travel widely in India, picking up some more regional dishes to add to my menu. My ultimate dream is to include Mumbai street food like pav bhaaji to our every day menu. However, if you wish to organise an event at our restaurant, we can make whatever cuisine you like- from Arabic to Indian to Malaysian to Italian to Vegan. Our chefs are from different countries and we have all the required expertise.” This Ramadan, the restaurant is planning to do something special like last year. “What people observing Ramadan must know that we serve food till 2:30am, so between Iftar (meal at sunset) and Suhoor (meal at sunrise) if someone wants a good and hearty meal- we are here to cater to their needs.” Zaman also has option of set lunch and dinner or pre-theatre menus, and offers are sold through websites like groupon.
Given the wide background of the staff at the restaurant, will Brexit affect Zaman? Kamat told the newsweekly, “I am not worried about Brexit. What I am worried about is the next generation of chefs and their skill set. Today's youngsters do not want to go to small restaurants to learn anything. They are not even ready to do free pupilage. The little tricks of cooking that you pick up while working at local and small restaurants are unparalleled- they will stay with you forever.
“I have never shied away from gaining experience at any restaurant- small or big. I have done my stints at small and local restaurants too. You will get money and fame if you are good, but what you learn at elementary level is very important and key to your success.”
"People observing Ramadan must know that we serve food till 2:30am, so between Iftar (meal at sunset) and Suhoor (meal at sunrise) if someone wants a good and hearty meal- we are here to cater to their needs."