Vineet Bhatia is one of the older restaurant veterans on Netflix’s new culinary competition, The Final Table. A native of India, he has spent the last two decades opening acclaimed Indian restaurants in several big cities. Here’s everything you need to know about Bhatia before tuning in to The Final Table.
Who is Vineet Bhatia?
Bhatia operates restaurants around the world. His eponymous London flagship closed last year, but his portfolio still includes several “by Vineet” properties: Rasoi (with locations in Switzerland and Bahrain), Amari (Mauritius), Indego (Dubai), Maharaja (Saudi Arabia, Riyadh), Saffron Lounge (Qatar), and Ziya (Mumbai). Bhatia has also worked with Qatar Airways and British Airways on their respective in-flight meals for first- and business-class travelers.
In addition to running restaurants, Bhatia has written two cookbooks. Rasoi: New Indian Kitchen was published in 2009, and he followed that with My Sweet Kitchen in 2016.
What was his journey through the culinary world like?
Bhatia was born in Mumbai in 1967. His family lived near an airport, and the sound of planes overhead gave him dreams of flying jets for a living. But when he failed to pass a physical examination to join the Indian Air Force at the age of 17, he says he decided to go in an entirely different direction. Bhatia studied at catering college from 1985 to 1988 and backed that up with an economics degree. He joined the Oberoi hotel group as a trainee in 1988 and was eventually appointed the chef de cuisine at the company’s Kandahar restaurant in Mumbai.
In 1993, Bhatia moved to London, where he found Indian cuisine to be in a disappointing state. He worked at Star of India for five years and introduced local diners to more authentic dishes from his native country. In 1998, he and a partner attempted to open their own restaurant, but plans fell through due to permitting delays, and he was forced to cook for the public out of his own home. A year later he partnered in Zaika in London’s Chelsea neighborhood. The restaurant won a Michelin star in 2001, making Bhatia the first Indian chef to receive the honor. In 2004, he stepped out on his own and opened Rasoi in the Chelsea neighborhood, which later received numerous international accolades and launched his career as a global restaurateur.
What is Vineet Bhatia’s food like?
Naming Bhatia to its list of the 1,000 most influential Londoners in 2009, the Evening Standard described his cuisine as “cutting-edge Indian cooking in ‘tapas-style’ portions.” The chef takes inspiration for his dishes from all aspects of life. “Anything and everything around me, influences me — plates, magazines, people with opinionated likes and dislikes, my travels,” he says of his culinary philosophy. “Inspiration can strike anywhere.”