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Community Spotlight –Rishim Sachdeva

By Rhona Hamilton-Jones

Rishim Sachdeva is head chef at the vegan restaurant Tendril, currently in residency at Soho pub The Sun & 13 Cantons. He has held senior positions at some of the UK’s top restaurants, including The Fat Duck, Almeida, The Dairy, and Chiltern Firehouse. 

Rhona: How did you get into hospitality?

Rishim: I started cooking at a very early age, I used to make dinners at home when I was about twelve. After high school I moved from India to the UK to go to university. I studied at Oxford Brookes and landed myself a kitchen porter job at a local pub. Since then it has just been something I have had a keen interest in, my desire to be a chef always been there. 

R: What pushed you to want to cook (mostly) vegan food at Tendril?

Rishim: In January 2019 I went vegan for multiple reasons- obviously for the benefit of animals and the planet. As a chef I also wanted to push boundaries and see how creative I could be with vegan and vegetarian dishes. I think that cooking meat is very technical but it’s a simpler process if you’ve learnt the way to do it. Whereas with vegetables, you have to be creative and put a lot more thought behind it. For example, how do you make cauliflower shine by itself on a plate and get people to keep coming back for it all the time?

R: Favourite dish on the menu at Tendril?

Rishim: I’m really excited about this smoked salsify dish we’re working on right now. Salsify is a root vegetable and it’s very versatile. What we’re doing is slowly braising it at a very low temperature, so it still has some bite, then smoking it for a long time so that all the flavours are incorporated. We glaze it in a maple and truffle emulsion, so it is smoky, sweet, tangy and salty. We serve it with a parsnip puree, fresh beetroot slaw and salsify crisp. It’s got a lot of layers and textures to it.

R: What would you say you enjoy most about hospitality?

Rishim: Meeting a lot of new people and sharing that passion and understanding; it doesn’t really feel like work. You’re so on board and become such good friends and family with the people you work with. The work is always challenging and there’s always a task at hand so there’s never a dull day in the business. 

R: What has been your biggest career challenge?

Rishim: My biggest challenge has been jumping the hurdle of being an ethnic minority and the stereotypes that come with that. There is a stereotypical attitude that as a chef you will be cooking food from your particular cuisine- as I’m Indian, the expectation is that I will cook Indian food. Whereas in reality, I’ve never trained in Indian cuisine. It can be a bit of a difficult situation to make people understand that I can and do cook foods from different nationalities and cuisines, and I’m fairly good at that. With Indian food, I could possibly knock up a curry at home but can’t expect anyone to pay for it! 

R: What has been the highlight of your culinary career?

Rishim: The recognition at Tendril. People have accepted us with open arms and are really liking the product we have managed to create in such a short span of time. It’s a welcoming change from people who are very used to going to meat-heavy places and bigger restaurants, and with us being a smaller pop up in a pub the support we have seen is immense. I’m highly grateful for that.

R: Have you ever had a mentor?

Rishim: I have had multiple, I have gone through different stages where I’ve looked up to a lot of different people. As you go from your younger to older age and see where you want to be, having a mentor definitely helps. 

R: Finish the sentence- the future of hospitality is…

Rishim: …Mostly vegan. People are making a change. 


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