Café Spice Namaste using, farm assured and traceable Scotch Beef PGI

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th July 2016

The Staff Canteen caught up with Cyrus Todiwala, Chef Patron of the family run Indian Restaurant, Café Spice Namaste to find out why, as a London based restaurant, they choose to use Scotch Beef PGI. We also quizzed Cyrus on the importance of meeting specific requirements and being the only Indian restaurant to be part of the Scotch Beef Club. 

Café Spice Namaste

Cyrus Todiwala has been running Café Spice Namaste with his wife, Pervin for more than 20 years when the restaurant first opened its doors in East London back in 1995. A short stroll from the Tower of London, Café Spice Namaste has become renowned for breaking down stereotypes that have become strongly associated with Indian Restaurants throughout Britain. By favouring strong, vibrant colours in both the restaurant design and food, Café Spice Namaste boldly reflects India's cultural heritage. Cyrus said: “Since opening we became the first restaurant to break the barriers of colour and light. I wanted the restaurant to represent every single colour that India is known for which is very bright and very colourful.”

He continued: “And then the cuisine had to match with that and had to be colourful simply because it represented a few regions of India and that’s how it was set up.”

Initially planned as a roll out concept with the intention to expand, Cyrus was not prepared to downgrade his cuisine and so after the investors pulled out he and his wife, Pervin raised enough money to take over the business. He explained: “Fortunately the restaurant became very well known for its cuisine and people come from all parts of the globe to come and eat here and a roll out concept would just not have worked because I would have had to downgrade my cuisine in order to expand, so that concept sadly failed.”

When asked why as a London restaurant Cyrus chooses to use Scotch Beef PGI, he explains that it was after being introduced to duke of Buccleuch Beef by some of his close friends. And after tasting the meat Cyrus immediately fell in love with its flavour and texture and has been using it ever since. Although he has noticed the importance of consistency in his dishes as he explains, “We have a group of lunch time guests who always eat our beef tikka. On one occasion we ordered meat from our regular butcher instead. These guys walk in for lunch one day and I didn’t even bother thinking about what would happen. They order the beef as they always do and as I came out of the kitchen to meet them they asked ‘Cyrus did you change your supplier today?’ This isn’t the first time some of my guests have asked if there is something different in the meat today.

“So it has made me aware that people are eating the food constantly and continuously so much so that they know exactly what the flavour profile is!”

To ensure they work with the best suppliers possible, all farmers have to meet Cyrus' strict specifications before forming a working relationship together. This includes vetting the farmers, policy checks, etc. as Cyrus explains, “we vet the farmers, we check all their policies, we have to have the best animal husbandry procedures in place otherwise I won’t touch them. If the farmer doesn’t meet our requirements of how animal welfare is taken care of they won’t supply to Café Spice Namaste.”

As a member of the Scotch Beef Club Cyrus and Café Spice Namaste would have gone through an initial check before they were accepted and will have regular visits thereafter. Typical benefits for registering as a member include traceability and high quality product. For Cyrus, being a member means he receives product that is of the highest possible standard and knows exactly where it comes from right from the day it is born on the farm.

Cyrus explains: “One of the benefits is that it has to be registered. So every time meat comes in it has to be documented in the register telling us everything we need to know. So starting from the barcode taking it down to the abattoir and the time the animal is slaughtered. It also takes you to the farm as well as the breed and then you can trace it all the way back to the heritage if you want to. So it gives me that chain so I know where the meat is coming from.

He continues: “Another advantage of using QMS is that I get quality, I get the highest standard we have in Britain and I get consistency.”

Despite being a longstanding member of the Scotch Beef Club, Café Spice Namaste is also the only Indian restaurant national to become a member. Cyrus cites the main reason for this being that most other Indian restaurants are highly unlikely to feature as many beef and/or pork dishes on the menu as they do. But as Cyrus explains, if there is so much great product around why not take advantage of that?

He said: “I don’t think most Indian restaurants serve beef and pork as we do. We have beef, pork, venison, etc. which is constant and we do all the meat we can lay our hands on and if I have such magnificent produce in Britain why shouldn’t I use it?”

By Michael Parker

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 27th July 2016

Café Spice Namaste using, farm assured and traceable Scotch Beef PGI