Abhijit Kamath wants to help change the way consumers experience Indian food in the United States. “It’s food that brings back memories,” says Kamath, “food that brings back memories.
“Rana and Akash laid the groundwork for me, and they did a great job.”
They are Rana and Akash Kapoor, founders of Curry Up Now and until last fall leading the culinary development of the 20-unit brand. Kamath, director of cuisine and flavors at Curry Up Now since September 2021, and Akash Kapoor first connected on LinkedIn, with Kamath still living in New York and unaware of the concept of fast-casual Indian street food.
“Then I did my research,” says Kamath. “It was like I was living under a rock.” He met the Kapoors, visited restaurants in California and of course tried the food – the samosas, pastries stuffed with curried potatoes and chutneys, are always his favorites – “and I said, I have to have that. “
“Their vision of food clearly aligns with mine,” continues Kamath, who since joining the company has drawn on his experience cooking at Michelin-starred restaurants and developing meals for the food giant. Compass Group catering. “Curry Up Now is a complete dining experience, not just a restaurant.”
Coming from a family of restaurateurs in his hometown of Mumbai, India, Kamath worked there at restaurants such as The Sassy Spoon before moving to New York, where he cooked at fine dining restaurants, Chef Daniel’s Restaurant Daniel Boulud and Danny Meyer’s Gramercy Tavern. Kamath earned her degree in Culinary Science from the Culinary Institute of America and also has a degree in Hotel and Hospitality Management from the Institute of Hotel Management. He had worked in product development for Compass’ Restaurant Associates group for nearly five years before moving to Curry Up Now.
In his role as Culinary Director, Kamath creates new dishes such as skewer sizzler in addition to improving protocols, recipes and training across the system with an emphasis on consistency. Curry Up Now produces the majority of its food in two central kitchens, with produce being shipped to each restaurant where kitchen workers handle the final preparation.
“One thing that Michelin-starred restaurants have really instilled in me is that sense of urgency: to get it right every time,” he says. “It has to be fair no matter who does it.”
A recent project to streamline the cooking process was to switch to Rational combi ovens capable of replicating a traditional tandoor oven. Curry Up Now, Kamath explains, used a two-step cooking process for its chicken and the change reduces it to a single step, resulting in chicken that’s “juicy, it’s charred.” This is how a tandoor would work.
Kamath has also introduced proprietary spice blends such as tandoori, kadhai and tamarind chutney, which are supplied to restaurants, and is leading efforts to grow Curry Up Now through shadow kitchens such as Local Foods, All Day Kitchens and KitchenUnited.
Kapoor, he notes, is still heavily involved in the culinary side of the brand and endorses everything Kamath creates. “He has a marvelous palate; he knows what he is talking about,” Kamath says. “We argue, we fight. It’s like a father-son relationship. »
Curry Up Now has corporate and franchise units under development in California, New Jersey, North Carolina, Colorado, Utah, Georgia, Texas and Indiana.
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