HomeFashionCloud Kitchens: Rehan Mehta, East seventh Pizza & Deli

Cloud Kitchens: Rehan Mehta, East seventh Pizza & Deli

Wine & Dine

Textual content and Images by means of Mallika Chandra.

Rehan Mehta, 31
East seventh Pizza & Deli
Location: Colaba
Speciality: Pizzas, sandwiches, burgers, puddings

Rehan, inform me about your adventure as a chef.
The primary time I went to cooking college was once when I completed my education in Mumbai. I had taken an opening 12 months in 2010 and I did a three-month direction at Le Cordon Bleu London. That have in truth made me no longer wish to turn into a chef so I went to a liberal arts school in america, the place I graduated in psychology.

In my 3rd 12 months in school, I came about to observe a video of Anthony Bourdain (the overdue famous person chef and shuttle documentarian) and David Chang (restaurateur and tv character) consuming at one among Chang’s New York eating places. That made me wish to return to cooking. In truth, I felt like I simply may no longer do anything! I enrolled within the cooking college David Chang have been to, which was once the French Culinary Institute in New York. I had came upon a direction that will permit me to take six months off from school, come again and nonetheless graduate on time. I liked it there.

How it labored in The united states on the time was once that I had 3 months to discover a task after commencement. So I carried out to a number of puts. After all, by the use of Craigslist, I were given a role as a pastry prepare dinner at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York (now referred to as Milk Bar), although it wasn’t what I had particularly skilled in. I used to be making cookies, desserts and bread and I nonetheless assume it’s the most productive task I’ve ever had. Sadly, I needed to depart after a 12 months as a result of they had been not able to sponsor my paintings visa.

Once I returned to Mumbai in 2015, I used to be given a role within the pastry division anywhere I carried out on account of my enjoy at Momofuku Milk Bar. My first task was once in Colaba on the modern-American eating place Ellipsis (now close), headed by means of Chef Kelvin Cheung. Chef Kelvin was once a Milk Bar fan so he was once prepared to have me onboard. Sadly, he left the eating place six months when I joined.

Then, in September 2016, I joined Masque in Mahalaxmi in Mumbai. Chef Prateek Sadhu and co-owner Aditi Dugar were given involved with me whilst the eating place was once nonetheless beneath building. Even on my first discuss with, I may inform the kitchen and the distance had been going to be particular. The primary 12 months of Masque was once actually fascinating however we had been suffering to determine our genre or what may make it distinctive. Ultimately, Chef Prateek began digging deeper into his personal Kashmiri roots, and that’s when it actually took off. It made extra sense as it was once non-public and culturally related relatively than simply looking to be like many different Scandinavian-inspired tasting menu eating places. What I loved maximum from my time there was once the truth that the cooks would serve the entire dishes and were given to engage with the shoppers, who had been normally meals, and that made it a laugh. We additionally had numerous freedom to paintings on new dishes which stored issues fascinating.

Later, I grew disappointed with tremendous eating. I used to be excited by beginning one thing that might feed much more other people. I thought of opening a sandwich store. I did a couple of pop-ups and began searching for places however not anything labored out. On the similar time, I heard concerning the mythical chef Rahul Akerkar opening a brand new eating place (Qualia) and I carried out for a place within the sizzling kitchen. I used to be liable for the pasta phase, which was once wonderful as a result of I love running with dough and the pasta was actually standard.

What led you to start out a cloud kitchen and the way did you propose to face out?
Quickly when I left Qualia, the pandemic struck, which rekindled the speculation of a sandwich store since other people had been hungry for well-executed convenience meals. There wasn’t actually a Western-inspired sandwich tradition in Mumbai on the time however as a result of other people were given into baking bread right through the lockdown, a sandwich tradition was once sure to apply.

My unique sandwich store concept advanced to incorporate pizza. My considering was once that pizza and sandwiches pass hand in hand. I had eaten numerous nice pizza right through my time in New York, which were given me obsessed — and right through the pandemic I began playing around with it, making it at house for my circle of relatives. It was once a no brainer to start out as a cloud kitchen on the time as a result of if there have been any other lockdown, you possibly can be caught paying hire for a cafe with out someone coming in there. I discovered a spot in Colaba in December 2021.

How did you pass about putting in your operations? What did you herald from previous enjoy?
It took me 3 months to arrange where. I used to be very finicky concerning the kitchen being a definite manner. I needed to in finding the appropriate oven. I knew I didn’t desire a wood-fired oven, I sought after an electrical one. In New York, maximum of my favorite pizza puts used electrical ovens. Wooden hearth could be very fascinating, however I don’t assume it provides a lot in relation to style. I believe like if in case you have the appropriate electrical oven, the pizza can style simply as just right and it’s much more constant, which is vital. Whilst you’re looking to churn the pizzas out actually speedy and feature 10 to fifteen orders at a time, that wood-fired oven goes to be a ache and perhaps a couple of don’t seem to be going to be as just right as the remaining as it’s so arduous to handle and keep an eye on the warmth, not like electrical ovens.

Having mulled over the speculation of the sandwich and pizza store for see you later, what has the menu construction procedure been like?
Once I set to work at the recipes, I believed it could take perhaps a couple of weeks or a month, nevertheless it took me 5 months simply to determine a pizza dough that I used to be pleased with. I did virtually 100 trials. I used to be simply making pizza each day and looking to determine it out. I by no means imagined how sophisticated it may well be, for the reason that it is only 4 components that you simply’re running with. However, the best way you combine the ones components, the proportions, how a lot water you upload, which flour you utilize, how lengthy you ferment it — these kinds of had to be discovered. After all, I settled on a dough after trial quantity 96. I sought after to simplify the dough procedure as it’s vital for my group with the intention to execute it in addition to I’d. This is the reason I dominated out a sourdough pizza dough as it has an excessive amount of margin for error. Now, we’re on pizza dough trial quantity 103. The pizza dough recipe remains to be referred to as an ordeal, although we’ve been open for a 12 months. And we stay making changes consistent with adjustments within the climate to get that absolute best mild and ethereal but crispy pizza crust.

Subsequent got here the sandwich bread. We had been outsourcing the bread to begin with however the numbers didn’t figure out. It was once more straightforward to decide on a recipe, nevertheless it nonetheless took a number of trials. We use a Vietnamese Bánh mì-style baguette. In comparison to a French baguette, it has an excessively skinny crust and a fluffy inside. The sandwiches were given significantly better once we began making our personal bread.

The only factor I knew I had to determine was once dessert. Maximum pizza puts serve dough balls with Nutella and stuff like that. However I sought after one thing lighter. I believed an American-style pudding would are compatible the invoice. Our lemon cheesecake and chocolate puddings do actually nicely. We had a strawberries-and-cream pudding and one with mango, which have been seasonal and actually standard. We’re the use of fancy vanilla beans, however but even so that they’re basically fruity, creamy and crunchy.

You place out a role opening on Instagram someday again and it communicated so much concerning the paintings tradition you are attempting to each desist from and construct. Used to be that intentional?
Maximum eating places I’ve labored at, the hours had been very lengthy, which has been the benchmark on this trade for ages. However I knew I didn’t wish to do this. If I used to be doing that and we had been a success and getting cash, I’d have nonetheless thought to be it a failure as a result of an overworked group isn’t an indication of good fortune. To me, it makes monetary sense as nicely. In the event you push other people so arduous, they’re simply going to get burnt out and depart in a couple of weeks or months, or a 12 months. I’d relatively have other people stick round for the lengthy haul, feel free, pass house and no longer consider paintings.

That’s why, in that hiring submit, I used to be particular that our shift lasts 10 hours handiest. Actually, it’s handiest 9 hours, however I’ve accounted for some time beyond regulation will have to we from time to time want it. Now, after working this position for a 12 months and seeing how tough it’s to in truth make cash, I see why different restaurateurs call for such lengthy hours from their groups. If eating place gross sales don’t seem to be attaining their goal, the control by hook or by crook feels that making other people paintings longer hours will spice up gross sales. Alternatively, whilst gross sales may building up within the brief time period, if goals don’t seem to be met, it’s much more likely that there’s a downside with the product or enjoy.

Have been you additionally intending to provide your shoppers an perception into what sort of cloud kitchen it’s and the type of other people which might be making the meals?
That’s no longer why I posted it and I didn’t consider it on the time. I used to be simply looking to rent a just right candidate. However, after all, if I had been to peer a trade posting one thing like this, I’d be much more likely to check out the meals and would attempt to order regularly. Our eating place trade doesn’t have the most productive recognition. So, someone who is aware of the rest about what is going on in the back of the scenes would feel free for issues to modify for the simpler.

Who’s your standard buyer?
Sadly, maximum of our orders come from Swiggy they usually don’t proportion buyer information. It’s protected to wager that the general public ordering from us are more or less like pizza nerds, which appears to be each 3rd particular person this present day. Maximum of our meals is New York-influenced. Those that’ve by no means had this sort of meals are prepared to check out it. And those that had been to New York or Philadelphia and feature had a cheesesteak sandwich, for instance, may even wish to relive that have.

I’ve additionally deliberately no longer advertised East seventh Pizza & Deli so much as a result of I’m nonetheless tweaking issues. I believe find it irresistible’s all the time a piece in development and I’m more or less a perfectionist; and I say that within the worst conceivable manner. I’ll stay procrastinating with the selling as a result of I believe perhaps pizza dough trial 104 or 105 would be the absolute best one after which we will actually push our advertising and marketing. These days, advertising and marketing has basically been thru phrase of mouth.

Is that still a results of the title East seventh Pizza & Deli? Your legit corporate title may be fascinating.
You might want to say that. Our legit corporate title is Very Informal Meals. I got here up with that title after leaving Masque as a result of I used to be simply so uninterested in tremendous eating. It’s humorous to mention that now, since Masque is among the highest eating places in India. I see myself sticking with speedy informal or informal eating places with thoughtfully achieved and ingredient-driven meals.

The title East seventh was once encouraged by means of the road I lived on in New York. Whilst I used to be in cooking college, I lived on East seventh Side road between 1st Road and Road A, which is within the East Village. And that one boulevard had such a lot just right meals! You might want to stroll down the road in 90 seconds nevertheless it had numerous nice tiny institutions. And every of them specialized in only one or two issues. There was once Luke’s Lobster, which made simply seafood sandwiches. There was once a Venezuelan arepas position. The construction I lived in had an Italian sandwich store referred to as Porchetta, which simply made a roast red meat sandwich. Around the boulevard was once this soft-serve position referred to as Large Homosexual Ice Cream, which bought actually funky tender serve. After which there was once a Chinese language teahouse the place I’d take a seat and drink tea. That boulevard actually encouraged me.

How would you describe what a deli is?
Within the New York sense, it’s your native sandwich position the place you select lunch up on a piece day nevertheless it additionally may well be the place you pass to get elementary groceries, perhaps even some baked items, with no need to make a shuttle to the grocery store. Inside that, there are the bodega-style delis, the place the sandwiches are made merely, the use of simply packaged components. Then there are the old-school delis, which make the entirety from scratch, like Katz’s Deli, which is legendary for pastrami. Russ & Daughters is actually well known for his or her smoked fish. The deli tradition got here from the Jewish inhabitants of New York. However now it has turn into a pattern that has unfold the world over.

How do you construct agree with as a cloud kitchen?
I’m very specific about preserving the kitchen tremendous blank, and in addition about ensuring that components are at their top. That sense of hygiene was once ingrained in me due to all my earlier paintings puts. Clearly, our meals protection regulations don’t seem to be as strict or as strictly enforced over right here in India, as in comparison to New York, however I implement those self same requirements anyway.

How has juggling the jobs of chef and trade proprietor been for you?
I want I may simply prepare dinner and concentrate on the meals as a result of it could be such a lot more straightforward. Part my time is spent managing other people, although I handiest have a group of 9. Simply looking to stay all of them not off course and coaching them helps to keep me considerably occupied.

I’m horrible at advertising and marketing. In order that’s any other factor that I want I’d just no longer need to do. I stay hoping that if my meals is just right sufficient, I gained’t need to do any advertising and marketing and other people will simply come anyway. And that’s clearly the dream. In New York, if in case you have a fantastic eating place, despite the fact that it’s a tiny one, the phrase goes to unfold so speedy that you simply’ll have queues down the street. However over right here, I don’t assume that’s conceivable as a result of we’re providing a distinct segment product. Having mentioned that, I’m no longer essentially attempting to succeed in a large target market. I’m simply looking for the appropriate individuals who need one thing scrumptious that’s made with care, consideration and just right components.

What ended up being more straightforward than you concept?
I don’t assume the rest has been more straightforward than I believed. Maximum issues had been tougher than I believed. Alternatively, when any person tries your meals, particularly if it’s a stranger, and tells you that they liked it, you are feeling just right and you are feeling find it irresistible’s all been value it.

What’s the absolute best order from East seventh Pizza & Deli?
Our menu isn’t very lengthy as a result of I need each merchandise to be tremendous scrumptious. A Ray’s Cheese Pizza, our model of a margherita with further buffalo mozzarella and parmesan cheese; a Red meat Stomach Bánh mì, which is meaty and highly spiced; and a lemon cheesecake pudding!

Earlier: Kunal Makhija, Arabisque
Subsequent: Kartikeya Ratan and Rishabh Doshi, Kiki & Pastor



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