IT is a partnership made in curry heaven that has now been reunited at Indian Mehfil Restaurant.
Pitamber Dutt, the head chef that put the Ipswich restaurant on the map nine years ago when it opened, is now back working for Indian Mehfil owner Raj Sharma.
Mr Dutt has 35 years of experience as a chef. He has owned and worked in restaurants in India and Australia and has been head chef at some of the best. He said he was "very excited to be back” at Indian Mehfil.
Mr Dutt said it was the first time he had come back to a restaurant that he had previously left.
"The restaurant carried on the menu I originally created but I will be changing the menu and introducing 60 per cent more dishes,” he said.
"That will include different types of goat, chicken and lamb dishes which Queensland hasn't seen before but that are very popular in Sydney and Melbourne.
"We will still be keeping dishes like butter chicken but I will be introducing a lot of new dishes, like kastoori chicken and a variety of different flavours.
"I believe the food is the king and the food is what brings the customer back.”
Mr Sharma said he was delighted to welcome Mr Dutt back.
"He was the one who took this restaurant to the highest level with the food and the running of the kitchen,” Mr Sharma said.
"Then he felt he needed a new challenge and opened up two restaurants in Sydney and then one of the largest in Melbourne.
"As the owner of this restaurant I was the one who reaped the rewards of his hard work and we always kept in touch and had a good relationship. So when a couple of my staff moved on I contacted him and it is a delight to have a chef of his calibre back here.”
Mr Sharma said Mr Dutt was one of only a handful of Indian chefs in Australia with the old school knowledge and expertise in cooking.
Mr Sharma said with modern chefs coming through the emphasis was on how the plate was presented to the customer. While important, Mr Sharma said his returned head chef put the emphasis on taste.
"Modern chefs believe the eyes have to eat the food first,” he said.
"Pitamber strongly believes that if you can't eat the food the eyes literally don't eat, they only see the food. For Pitamber the food is the focus. It needs to be tasted and it needs to be like we cook back home.”
"It is not like he can only have one menu. He has a book in his mind of all kinds of dishes.”
After the Diwali festival later this month the menu will be revamped and will include a classic goat curry and methi malai chicken, two dishes that were on the menu when Mr Dutt was previously the chef.
Mr Sharma said many dishes would also include the bone, as it is served back in India in a traditional way.
Mr Dutt knows real Indian cooking like few others.
"I did a five-year apprenticeship and then two years under a head chef,” he said.
"I only believe in traditional cooking. I don't believe in modern cooking and I won't compromise what my teacher taught me.”