India's 10 Top Chefs Who Are Taking Culinary Heritage Forward

Today the world celebrates International Chef’s Day 2023, a day where the hard work and skills of chefs who have dedicated their lives to feeding others and pushing the culinary envelope. India is home to hundreds of not thousands of wildly talented individuals who are championing everything from regional flavours to international delicacies. And while every one is worthy of note, there are some chefs that have been making waves this year and grabbing attention with their work.

Here are 10 of India’s top chefs you should know:

1. Chef Anahita Dhondy

Repping all things Parsi, Chef Anahita Dhondy is best known for her work as the chef manager of SodaBottleOpenerWala. Classically trained in French cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu, after conquering the world of Western cuisine, she found her true calling in the allure of spice and has gone on to cook for some of the most prestigious events and people the world over. Recently she’s become a vocal advocate for millets and is currently championing the rise of this native superfood.

2. Chef Anumitra Ghosh Dastidar

Born and bred in Kolkata, Chef Anumitra grew up with a love for food although her early life took her down a path of academics, far from the culinary sphere she now occupies. At her celebrated restaurant Edible Archives in Assagao, Goa, she and her partner Shalini Kishan have created a menu that thrives on local, seasonal produce most of which comes from their own flourishing gardens. She’s one of the leaders in the sustainable eating sphere and is changing the way people perceive Indian ingredients.

3. Chef Auroni Mookerji

Though he often calls himself the accidental chef, Mookerji started off in the advertising field in Mumbai, but when an opportunity to cook at the erstwhile Cafe Zoe, he jumped and the chance and it became the catalyst he needed to switch careers. He has since worked all over the country in prestigious kitchens like Diva in Delhi and more recently, Sienna in Kolkata. He’s an advocate for localised cooking and honouring sustainable ingredients in nourishing, hearty dishes.

4. Chef Hussain Shahzad

Best known as the innovative mind currently helming multiple award-winning restaurants Bombay Canteen and O Pedro, Chef Hussain is known for pushing the limits of Indian cuisine while still staying true to their origins. He credits his skill to what he learned from Chef Floyd Cardoz and from Chef Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park and today he’s putin everything he’s learned over his illustrious career to good use in creating food that pushes the limits of what Indian food is capable of. 

5. Chef Manish Mehrotra

Indian Accent is one of the most prestigious restaurants not only in India, but the world over. Widely accepted as one of the most exciting modern Indian chefs on the scene right now, he has elevated traditional flavours to a level of finesse that is worthy of the world stage. He has a dedication to continuous growth so while his menus often feature fan favourites like his blue cheese kulcha and daulat ki chaat, there’s always something new brewing to wow your eyes and palate.

6. Chef Manu Chandra

Over the 17 years he worked as the chef-partner with the Olive Group – the name behind restaurants like The Fatty Bao, Toast & Tonic, Monkey Bar and more – Chef Manu Chandra has built a reputation for excellence and innovation. Now he’s struck out on his own with Manu Chandra Ventures which offers a number of verticals from catering to branding, and he’s creating a new legacy with his unique stamp of success. 

7. Chef Niyati Rao

Chef partner at Mumbai’s Ekaa, Chef Niyati Rao may be one of the youngest in the game, but has been making waves with her creative reimaginings of traditional Indian flavours. She prides herself on digging into the roots of every cuisine, and bringing only the most authentic flavours to the table with her own signature twists.

8. Chef Prateek Sandhu

Kashmiri-born Chef Sandhu has always had a penchant for food. After training in Hotel Management, he then went on to work in some of the most prestigious Michelin-starred kitchens across the world including Le Bernadin, French Laundry and Noma. Today he’s best known for co-founding Masque in Mumbai, one of the country’s leaders in the culinary sphere using purely local ingredients and techniques to create world-class dishes.

9. Chef Regi Matthew

Often hailed as the top chef working in India right now, Chef Regi is currently the Co-Owner and Culinary Director of Kappa Chakka Kandhari in Chennai, a spot that champions his native Kerala roots and highlights the beauty of simple, Indian cooking. With over 25 years of experience and multiple awards under his belt, he’s still setting the scene on fire. 

10. Chef Ritu Dalmia

Though she’s technically ‘untrained’ this superstar Chef and restaurateur helms seven successful fin-dine restaurants all over the world. Cooking may have begun as a hobby, but it was always her passion and when she opened up Mezzaluna in Delhi, there was no looking back. Today she’s regarded as a powerhouse of the Indian culinary scene.