Position in the Industry: Hugely popular and successful Indian Restaurant Chain throughout the UK, currently operating 7 restaurants in London, Manchester and Edinburgh.
The concept and brand name was in place when we were introduced to each other. What the guys didn’t have was a working menu as none of them had come from a food/restaurant background. A rough idea of the type of dishes they wanted to include had been drafted.
What was the vision?
They were very clear on what kind of consultant they wanted to engage on the development journey and why. My culinary background, eclectic food knowledge and retail expertise together with my strong belief in their concept were deciding factors in working together. Before we began the development process we had a whistle stop tour to India (Delhi and Mumbai) to immerse ourselves into the culture, identity, origin and the exotic mayhem which inspired and gave us some key insights into the authentic Irani food we sought to recreate.
Client’s expected outcomes from working with Spk
To create an authentic and timeless everyday menu of small dishes to be enjoyed everyday by everyone. To thoroughly test the dishes on the kitchen equipment which would fundamentally form the basis of the menu and to help design the kitchen and work flow which would execute the menu offer.
Spk set about developing an array of concept menu items working very closely with them to refine the distinctive menu offer which are still very much part of the menu today.
Increasing the original menu to include a breakfast offer.
In the infancy of the concept an estimated size of the first restaurant had been set at around 2500 - 3000 sq ft in which to serve lunch and dinner. With negotiations underway for a desirable central London location the site in question was closer to 6000 sq ft. It soon became clear the menu we had developed just wasn’t big enough in its current gestation so the decision to look at including a breakfast offer came into play which would in turn provide an all-day dining experience.
What was the solution?
What this provided was an opportunity and one I really wanted to explore through an amalgamation of cuisines between India and the UK. I think this was where I particularly added a unique approach to what this would look and taste like. If you take all the breakfast credentials we know and love in the UK then blend in some exotic Indian staples in the right hands you can have a lot of fun. The very early conceptions took the guys a little persuading to engage in. Though in the end what I developed has become an intrinsic part of the menu.
It had always struck me how important it was to have good naan or roomali bread. During our numerous catch up meals during the development period our destinations would be based on how well a certain place made naan, kebabs or curries. Naan bread is made to order so the end result will always be spectacular. Play around with all the components which traditionally make up the good old English bacon butty but the white sliced bread becomes freshly baked naan, ketchup moves over for a slightly cheeky chilli jam and the butter to a slather of soft cheese and you have a lovely thing that works well on every level. Then add a fried egg, what's not to love?
What was the timeline of the project?
This part of the menu development process was delivered in just under 3months with the hand over and training process to the team who would go on and run the first site in St Martins Lane. The overall menu development which consisted of a lot more ideas which did not end up on the menu was closer to 18months.
The overall menu development has been used as the template for all the sites which have opened as the Dishoom brand continues to grow and expand. Some menu items have changed or been removed which is to be expected as Dishoom continues to evolve but overall the bulk of the menu work developed remains.
To have inspired and created a menu which satisfies mostly everyone and been responsable for creating a bit of a following for a certain breakfast dish is pretty cool! I don’t think the guys ever imagined they would create a brand/restaurant which would command such popularity and status without losing its charm or authenticity but they work hard on every detail and it shows.
I think the fact that much of the menu developed during the initial inception still remains in place even after 12 years in operation says a lot about the time we spent as a team making sure it was right. For that, I am ultimately proud to have been able to create that original menu and to have been part of the process and journey.
But don't take my word for it ...
SPK is just great. From the time we first spoke to him about working with us, he has given us passion, verve and creativity in bucketfuls. And it always tastes fantastic. He brings together combinations of flavours and ingredients which challenge and enthral,
while feeling completely natural and unpretentious. His Bacon Naan Roll has become the source of a cult following (described by Marina O'Laughlin, food critic at The Metro, as "GAWJUSS!"). We love working with SPK. And he’s a top bloke too.
Original Founder, Dishoom
SPK is a total food nomad (possibly also because he never says "no" to a challenge and also because he's a bit "mad"). Working with him has been an absolute pleasure and he has delivered way beyond what we expected. Having briefed him on an Indian food project, he offered well researched and very unique perspectives. The result has been truly inspired menu items. He's not afraid to challenge either which makes him a very valuable team member. SPK is no longer considered to be a consultant we use - to me, he is like family.
Now you tell anyone what I wrote and I'll break your legs!!
Former Founder & Enterpreneur