Great British Menu 2023 chefs: Avinash Shashidhara, London and South East Heat

Alex South

Alex South


Avinash Shashidhara, Head Chef of Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai, is one of four chefs competing for London and South East region on Great British Menu 2023.

Series 18 of the competition starts on January 31 2023 on BBC Two at 8pm and will air for eight weeks.

Avinash is going head to head with chefs Ferdinand Montoya, Brian Danclair, Robbie Lorraine in a bid to represent London and the South East in the regional finals, and ultimately cook a dish at the final banquet.

This is Avinash's first time competing in Great British Menu.


Born and raised in Bangalore, India, Avinash is transforming traditional homestyle Indian cooking into a masterful display at his restaurant Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai in London’s Fitzrovia.

Avinash’s hospitality career started off after he pursued a degree in hotel management before moving to the UK in 2005, starting his journey at Claude Bosi’s two Michelin-starred Hibiscus in Ludlow.

Eager to develop his career further, the young chef left the restaurant to take up work at John Hoskins’ The Old Bridge Hotel. It was long until Avinash undertook a stage at Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray’s Michelin-starred River Café in Hammersmith, quickly making a big impression to the restaurant’s owners.

“Rose Gray offered me a job at the end of the stage and I did take up on her offer, a year on! It was one of the best career choices I made – and I worked there 10 years,” he said. 

Describing his time at River Café and the impact it had on him as a young chef, Avinash explained: “It was absolutely amazing. It was an ingredients-led kitchen with a daily changing menu and simple cooking techniques. I got to learn so much about seasonality and classical Italian cooking."


Opening in 2020, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai has quickly established itself as one of London’s best Indian restaurants, perfectly encapsulating Avinash’s desire to share the meals and food culture of his home, with diners visiting the restaurant.

Open for just over two years, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai has already amassed critical acclaim from some of Britain’s most respected food guides and critics, with restaurant receiving a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide.

"The food at Pahli Hill is very homestyle and seasonal, we're trying to take it back to what I or some of my chefs would eat at home growing up in India" explained Avinash.

He added: "I get my chefs to cook from their memories of comfort food rather than from what they learned to cook at other restaurants. Food they grew up eating, food their families had cherished memories about. That, to me is so much more meaningful than cooking from some cookbook or recreating recipes tried at another restaurant."

Built on the site of the iconic Indian - Gaylord restaurant, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai is comprised of a restaurant on the ground floor, and a cosy bar downstairs.

The restaurant upstairs caters for 60 covers, with the bar providing 35 seats to guests, with both spaces featuring eye-catching art deco interiors running throughout.

In these challenging times…

The Staff Canteen team are taking a different approach to keeping our website independent and delivering content free from commercial influence. Our Editorial team have a critical role to play in informing and supporting our audience in a balanced way. We would never put up a paywall and restrict access – The Staff Canteen is open to all and we want to keep bringing you the content you want; more from younger chefs, more on mental health, more tips and industry knowledge, more recipes and more videos. We need your support right now, more than ever, to keep The Staff Canteen active. Without your financial contributions this would not be possible.

Over the last 12 years, The Staff Canteen has built what has become the go-to platform for chefs and hospitality professionals. As members and visitors, your daily support has made The Staff Canteen what it is today. Our features and videos from the world’s biggest name chefs are something we are proud of. We have over 500,000 followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and other social channels, each connecting with chefs across the world. Our editorial and social media team are creating and delivering engaging content every day, to support you and the whole sector - we want to do more for you.

A single coffee is more than £2, a beer is £4.50 and a large glass of wine can be £6 or more.

Support The Staff Canteen from as little as £1 today. Thank you.

Alex South

Alex South

Editor 31st March 2023

Great British Menu 2023 chefs: Avinash Shashidhara, London and South East Heat