Restaurateur Dhruv Mittal updates us on life since he graduated from Le Cordon Bleu London in 2014 having studied the prestigious Grand Diplôme®. His first restaurant, DUM Biryani quickly established itself on the London food scene with The Independent agreeing that it is "rightly deserving of its place as one of the new wave of Indian restaurants in London." Dhruv now has a new restaurant in the capital: Lucknow 49.
Graduating in 2014, Dhruv has experience in several Michelin-starred restaurants including Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck and Sat Bains, as well as spending some time in India to focus more on its cuisine. We previously caught up with Dhruv to discuss his first restaurant opening back in 2016; now over three years on, DUM Biryani is well established in London's exciting and diverse food scene, helped along the way by the praise received from many a notable critic. Being ambitious, opening another restaurant was a logical next step for Dhruv, but prior to his Grand Diplôme® studies at Le Cordon Bleu London, the restaurateur had no professional experience in the industry.
"Before Le Cordon Bleu I was a project manager in the city for a year and prior to that I was at university studying Economics. Going to Le Cordon Bleu was a dream of mine since I was 14 years old. My food technology teacher in school told me that if I wanted to be a chef, this was the ideal place as the education was world class.
"I was looking for an intense but relatively short course to learn the key skills of working in a kitchen. I wanted to learn all the techniques used in pâtisserie and cookery from the best institution."
Training at Le Cordon Bleu helped Dhruv enter the industry by giving him the skill-set required to progress his career further, as well as developing his focus towards the particular discipline that he was most passionate about.
"The training gave me the skills to be able to work at all positions in the kitchen. When I went to do various stages at different high-end Michelin-starred restaurants, I was able to practice both pastry and cuisine which allowed for a very enriching learning experience. When I decided to concentrate my efforts on cooking Indian cuisine, the variety of French techniques that I had learnt allowed me to approach familiar food with a greater breadth of understanding and therefore develop recipes which always had balance, depth, seasoning and flavour.
"I always knew I wanted to work in food but I was unsure of what capacity. During my training however, I realised that I wanted to create an entire experience that a customer can go through as opposed to concentrating on the food alone."
Now with an established restaurant under his belt, Dhruv is excited to get the doors open at his new restaurant, Lucknow 49. Focusing on India's Lucknow region and the Awadhi cooking that is synonomous with the area, Dhruv has big plans for Lucknow 49 and beyond.
"With Lucknow 49 we aim to introduce Awadhi cuisine to London and possibly grow it across the UK. With the overall group we aim to revolutionise neighbourhood restaurants in order to create places that have incredible food, great atmosphere, affordable prices and most of all, unique experiences."
Describing managing multiple teams with varied ages and experience as the most challenging aspect of his job, Dhruv's days are pretty robust and can vary from day to day, particularly as he is not just the Managing Director, but also the Executive Chef for two London restaurants.
"I usually wake up at 6.30am and spend my mornings organising my emails and sorting out my calendar. Most days are split with visiting both restaurants and mostly being in and out of meetings that are needed in order to grow and develop the business. I tend to finish my day with a couple of hours of admin, marketing, finance and mentoring colleagues."
What part of your role as a restaurateur are you most passionate about?
"I love all the creative aspects. From designing the restaurants from scratch, hiring the best people for the job, travelling and developing food for various concepts."
What advice would you give to someone looking to follow in your footsteps?
"Make sure you get experiences in different types of restaurants and food businesses before opening your own place. Make sure you are always reading and constantly in the loop of what is happening in the industry. Finally, know your numbers."
What inspires you the most?
"Incredible home food which exudes comfort, warmth and safety."
In short, what does Le Cordon Bleu represent for you?
"The pinnacle of culinary education."
Lucknow 49 is located in London's Mayfair: 49 Maddox St, London W1S 2PQ
You can find out more information regarding the Grand Diplôme® which Dhruv studied in our programmes section.