The Chaat Room: an interview with Bobby Patel, Prashad

Prashad indian vegetarian restaurant Patel family portrait Ben Bradley

A lot can happen in a year, and indeed almost exactly that amount of time has elapsed since I last posted on here. Things and circumstances change and, if you’re lucky as I have been, seemingly good things fall apart so that better things can come together.

One of those such things is a relocation from Essex to Leeds with the Man. And one of the best things about that thing is living in a city that’s home to a fair few Indian foodie hotspots, providing me with a timely kick in the butt to get said rear into gear when it comes to this blog.

And where better to start than Prashad? A recent craft workshop event which you can read about here introduced me to the legendary Indian vegetarian restaurant, to some very fabulous food, and to Bobby Patel, who kindly clued me in about what makes his family business not only tick but go down a storm with all who dine there…

Prashad Indian vegetarian restaurant menu Ben Bradley

Prashad’s menu is definitely not made up of run-of-the-mill Indian restaurant standards. What makes your approach different?

Our food has its roots fixed in the western Indian state of Gujarat. Our head chef – and my wife – Minal focuses on traditional memories of her upbringing, refining these dishes with a fine dining twist. We have family living within the restaurant and firmly place its day-to-day operation as the family’s priority. It’s not just a business for us; it’s our life and our reputation.

Prashad is also big on ‘local’ and ‘seasonal’ – where do you get your produce?

We are – during summer, Minal used a lot of sweetcorn and broad beans; notably in her open samosa which was a big hit. She works closely with Delifresh, and also York-based Herbs Unlimited – a company growing the most amazing herbs and flowers which Minal uses for her many garnishes.

Prashad Indian vegetarian restaurant Bobby and Minal Patel

As I know only too well, running a business with your other half comes with both advantages and challenges – what are yours?

There are many advantages: we live within Prashad so we get to spend lots of time together, we are a total team, and it’s lovely to be able to watch our child Maitri grow up within that environment.

We understand one another and are able to draw on each other’s strengths whilst developing the restaurant; whether that’s discussing new dishes or introducing new front of house methods.

We usually manage to turn disadvantages into advantages. A lot of social time is sacrificed to work, but that suits Minal’s personality.

Prashad’s many accolades attest to the fact that Minal is a pretty driven chef. Who are her food heroes?

She holds Gordon Ramsay and Atul Kochhar in high regard.

Before Minal was in the kitchen, your mum Kaushi was Prashad’s ‘OG’. What are her culinary greatest hits?

Mum makes so many amazing dishes, but my favourites from childhood are her pav bhaji and her pizza.

Prashad Indian vegetarian restaurant interiors

You get that ‘special occasion’ feel when dining at Prashad, but it’s also warm and homely – how do you create that environment?

We, and our whole team, have a lot of love for the restaurant. Everyone on the team is an individual, and thus the overall compassion is genuine. Witnessing the family’s commitment and us treating everyone who works at Prashad in the same familial way naturally creates that warmth.

And your gorgeous interiors help enhance the environment too…

Prashad’s aesthetic is the work of my younger brother Mayur, who wanted to create a warm feeling with delicate references to India. He has a natural eye for creating perfectly brand-matched spaces – he also designs and manages environments for his Leeds city centre restaurant Bundobust.

Speaking of the restaurant-packed Leeds city centre, where else do you like to dine?

We always want to dine at Bundobust because it’s all veggie food and delivers that spice hit. More locally, we enjoy Nawaab which is up the road from Prashad. Mum really likes their veg curries.

Prashad Indian vegetarian restaurant sanku open samosa Ben Bradley

You’ve just started offering monthly dinners involving craft workshops, but what else is in the pipeline for Prashad? 

Prashad is looking to come to central Leeds, and we’re currently developing collaborations to gauge how much love the city has for us. We’re working on a tasting menu for a one-night pop-up at The Tetley later this year, and are looking to hold a similar night at Ox Club. We’ve also got a great friendship with Laynes Espresso, and I’m sure we’ll be doing something with them soon too.

 

  • Prashad, 137 Whitehall Road, Drighlington BD11 1AT
  • To visit the website, click here
  • To read about Prashad’s five-course Indian vegetarian tasting menu and craft workshop series on my Amuse Bouche website, click here

Image credit: Ben Bentley

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