DESIGN / FOOD / COLLABORATION
Magazine Street Kitchen x Nicobar
The neighbourhood of Byculla and its surrounds have recently been on LOVER’s radar for many good reasons and Magazine Street Kitchen, the experimental cooking and dining space by the folks behind The Table had it going off again. A few weeks ago, the MSK team paired up with lifestyle label Nicobar to throw a Prohibition era-style dinner with the latter's new Chand Sitara collection as the canvas.
We donned our finest flapper dresses to dash between a table decked out with homeware inspired by Mumbai's art deco architecture which flourished around the same time, and the sprawling open kitchen to observe group executive chef Alex Sanchez and his talented team conjure up a six-course dinner. On the menu was waldorf salad, salmon coulibiac, lasagne with as many layers as millefeuille and a signature cocktail so delicious, we had to ask for the recipe. Read our interview with Magazine Street Kitchen founder Gauri Devidayal and chef Alex below.
Gauri, take me back to the beginning. How did the idea of Magazine Street Kitchen come about?
Gauri: It was the brainchild of my husband, Jay Yousuf and Chef Alex. After struggling to find locations for another restaurant in Mumbai, this space fell into our lap and the idea evolved from there. We initially thought of creating a space which would house a catering prep kitchen and office, however, as the idea evolved, it eventually became a collaborative kitchen with equipment of the highest calibre and a dining area which replaced the office. We quickly realised that this would be a unique space and the first of its kind in the city. With the growing number of people venturing into food, there is a dearth of great cooking spaces for non-restaurant chefs to use. The space is very versatile and can be used for different events such as pop up dinners with guest chefs, cooking workshops, team building sessions such as cooking competitions, for filming or as production sets. Since our opening in June, we have conducted multiple events with local and international chefs and the response from diners as well as chefs has been both positive and overwhelming.
Alex, what’s it like having the best kitchen in the city?
Alex: I feel spoiled to get to work in such an incredible kitchen. That being said, MSK was also designed to be collaborative environment, where chefs from India and beyond could come and share ideas. But yeah… the kitchen is really sweet!
You do quite a few workshops yourself. What’s the secret to making your own pasta? How did you get so many layers in the lasagne?
Alex: The workshop aspect of MSK has been really rewarding for me. It’s great to see people’s eyes light up when they see a new technique that excites them, or when they try something for the first time. The secret to making great pasta is to channel your inner Italian grandmother. As for that lasagne… patience.
What has been the highlight for you so far? What do you have lined up?
Alex: The kitchen at MSK was designed to have few, if any, limitations, allowing us to offer our guests unique and genuine experiences. The highlight for me was our opening event 'The Big Night' where we recreated an Italian feast from one of my favourite films, Big Night. In the coming month we can look forward to a Mexican fiesta, a Mediterranean chef from San Francisco with 20 plus years of experience, a seafood masterclass, and a whole lot more.
It’s an unlikely part of the city. What can you tell me about the neighbourhood? Why the name Magazine Street Kitchen?
Gauri: It was important for the name of the space to be associated with the location in some way. The challenge for us was not just about introducing a new dining concept in the city but also bringing our diners to a less trodden part of the city, which is steeped in history. With a name like Magazine Street Kitchen, the question invariably arises about the name, and we’re able to explain the story behind it. MSK is on Magazine Street or Darukhana as the locals know it. Darukhana is an area of Mazagaon, popularly known for its ship-breaking and ironworks industries. The area in fact conceals a remarkable history. Packed with dingy tin godowns, narrow lanes and factories, Darukhana, literally means ‘gunpowder factory’, and was named for the gunpowder industry in the area. Various ships carrying gunpowder used in ammunitions for warfare during the British reign would dock at Mazagaon and the gunpowder would be stored in the surrounding areas. Magazine in English stands for an ammunition storage and feeding device within a repeating firearm and the street was thus named ‘Magazine Street'.
You’ve retained elements of the original character of the building Can you tell me a little bit about the design?
Gauri: The space was a family property which was not in use. A clear brief was given to our architect Anand Patel to integrate the modern state of the art kitchen into the existing industrial warehouse space, retaining all the original architectural elements such as the iron beams and columns, the brick walls, the teak wood ceiling. The space has a stark, fuss-free feel with clean lines, which allows the star of the space – the kitchen equipment – to really stand out. The contemporary and the classic have been woven together beautifully and it truly takes an open kitchen dining experience to a whole new level.
Tell me a little bit about your bakery and catering service.
Alex: Mag Street Bread Co is more or less a creative outlet for our very talented head baker, Rachelle Andrade. We are supplying breads and viennoiserie to restaurants and cafes throughout Bombay and offering them for retail as well. The Dining Table, our new catering service, will be based out of MSK and will aim to provide high-end, restaurant quality food to our clients for offsite events.
How did this collaboration with Nicobar come about and what is on the menu?
Alex: I am a fan of Nicobar’s aesthetics and was particularly inspired by their new lines of serviceware. An opportunity for collaboration seemed to present itself. Taking inspiration from the Chand Sitara dinnerware collection, which incorporates art deco motifs, we put together a menu of updated classics from the American Prohibition era. In conceiving the menu, we looked at menus from that time period and re-envisioned them in a contemporary way to lighten them and give them a modern appearance.
How many different things did you do with pineapples?
Alex: Three. Our prohibition-inspired cocktail, 'The B’s Knees' (B as in Byculla), incorporated pineapple juice; we made a canapé with spiced pineapple and roasted almond butter; and our dessert was a pineapple sundae served in a pineapple.
Lastly. How do we make the delicious cocktail you guys conjured up for the night?
Alex: B’s Knees — a riff on the The Bee's Knees. 50ml Tanqueray 10, 2 teaspoon wild honey (or any high quality honey), 20ml fresh lime juice, 20ml fresh pineapple juice, a small pinch of salt. Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a martini glass. Serve with a wedge of pineapple.
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