Chef and owner of three critically acclaimed and internationally recognized NYC restaurants - Bhatti Indian Grill, Moti Mahal Delux and Awadh - Gaurav Anand is one of the youngest restaurateurs in the city. He has been praised by numerous media outlets for the authenticity and innovation he brings to Indian cuisine, and includes 2 Star reviews by The New York Times. He has created sold out dinners at the prestigious James Beard Foundation, and Awadh was rated the best Indian restaurant in NYC by Village Voice. Chef Anand has also been featured on numerous television appearances, including Good Day New York (Fox5), Dining Deal with Tony Tantillo (CBS NY), The Best Thing I Ever Ate (Cooking Channel), Neighborhood Eats with Lauren Glassberg (ABC 7).
"I arrived in New York City eight years ago with two suitcases and a lot of dreams, dreams of expanding my culinary empire and giving people in this city a taste of something fresh and exciting in terms of Indian cuisine.”
Born into a family of lawyers and restaurateurs from New Delhi, Gaurav had his culinary path set before him at an early age. After graduating from college where he studied business administration, he worked with his brother Saurabh’s catering company. At one event, he wondered why there was a delay in the food and inquired about it in the kitchen. The chef challenged him to cook the food himself if he didn’t like the pace and Anand realized that, to be a restaurateur, he would need to learn how to handle the kitchen as well. That is when his journey truly started.
Not formally trained as a chef, Gaurav learned by watching chefs and recreating their recipes. He would stand in the kitchen for hours as the chefs cooked, picking up techniques and forming the basis for his own style. He slowly learned how to mix spices, create marinades and explore ingredients that bring out flavors in vegetables and legumes like okra, eggplant and chickpeas.
“I had a lot to learn, about the culture, the environment, and above all the food and hospitality industry, which is very competitive. I kept my head down, my chin high and kept moving on. I had high goals ahead of me and knew the sky was the limit. The look on people’s faces when they have eaten one of my creations is priceless, and it makes all my hard work and my struggles completely worth it.”
A spark that ignited on his first trip to New York City to visit his then girlfriend, now wife, in 2006 meant that Gaurav would have to act on even bigger aspirations. He realized that New York was the place to build his career in as it was the epicenter of a multi-cultural hotpot, a city that had numerous Indian restaurants but nothing that would set them apart in a way that he had envisioned.
Bhatti Indian Grill, Gaurav’s first restaurant, opened in the bustling Murray Hill neighbourhood of Manhattan in 2009 to rave reviews. Bhatti became a destination for anyone craving a taste of authentic north Indian cuisine, and earned a spot on the city’s culinary map.
Following the success of Bhatti Indian Grill, Anand was approached by one of the owners of Moti Mahal Delux, an acclaimed restaurant chain from India. Anand, along with his brother, sought to bring the authentic taste of Mughlai cuisine to New York via the franchise and opened Moti Mahal Delux in the summer of 2012. A few months after it opened, Moti Mahal Delux earned a prestigious 2 star review from The New York Times, one of only a handful of Indian restaurants to ever receive such a rating. This review would change the course of the restaurant and Gaurav's career forever.
During his travels back to India, Gaurav journeyed to Lucknow in the Awadh region and fell in love with the flavors of the cuisine and the “dum pukht” (slow cooking) style popular in the region. Opened in May 2014, Awadh is a showcase for a storied region’s cooking and the realization of a dream to be among the forefront of Indian restaurateurs in America. Among other accolades, the Village Voice named Awadh “Best Indian Restaurant” that year.
Gaurav’s latest venture was aRoqa in 2017, which offered an elevated Indian dining experience, as Gaurav took inspiration from his travels around the world to create a one-of-a-kind menu that marries Western and Indian flavors and techniques. The food goes far beyond traditional Indian cooking, utilizing ingredients not generally found in the cuisine, such as avocado, kale, tomatillos, bacon, goat cheese and more.
Gaurav has since moved on from this venture to re-gain focus on his other three restaurants and to expand his passion for catering events, including destination weddings US - wide and globally.