Rohit Khattar, 53
When culinary impresario Rohit Khattar’s brainchild Chor Bizarre opened its doors in 2016 at Delhi’s Bikaner House after months of speculation, the kind of attention it garnered was no surprise.
The restaurant he started 25 years ago at the family-owned Hotel Broadway in Delhi created a similar frenzy when it opened in London and Pune. So has Indian Accent, the fine dining restaurant that started operations in New York in 2016 after serving for seven years at The Manor, New Delhi. For that matter, all of Khattar’s 40 restaurants in India and abroad create similar hysteria among food connoisseurs and diners.
In the 90s, when the dining scene was not as happening as it is today—ventures, especially standalone, were closing down—Khattar took his chances. He stuck to authentic Indian cuisine, abjuring fancy menus or a posh spot for his first restaurant. He even chose mismatched cutlery (staying true to its name inspired by chor bazaar or thieves’ market).
He also developed India’s first food court (Eatopia), first diner (The All American Diner) and first pub (Past Times), all at India Habitat Centre, under the aegis of Old World Hospitality of which he is the founder-chairman.
All of his outrider concepts went on to win awards, accolades and adulation. Indian Accent won the San Pellegrino Best Restaurant Award by Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2015 and is the only eatery from India in S Pellegrino’s list of 100 Best Restaurants in the World. Indian Accent, Delhi, features among 100 Best Hotels in the World by The Sunday Times, London.
Khattar bagged the IFCA Award of Excellence instituted by the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations for his outstanding contribution to the development of gastronomy and society.
This elusive figure has never hustled for a Page 3 presence, always pushing his chefs as the face
of his restaurants, and yet is one of the most influential restaurateurs of our times. His vision and commitment towards Indian cuisine and penchant for pushing the envelope of hospitality make for an inspiring tale.