Nikhil Chib: The Wall Street Banker Who Followed His Passion for Food
Would you believe it if we told you that Nikhil Chib, India’s hugely popular chef and successful restaurateur, was once an investment banker on Wall Street? Nikhil gave up a well-paying job as an investment banker to pursue his passion for food, and if any of his restaurants — Busaba or BusaGo — are anything to go by, the career shift has certainly worked out well. This is his story.
In 2001, when Nikhil launched his first fine dining restaurant Busaba, in Colaba, he gave Mumbai’s culinary curious lot a taste of the most authentic Southeast Asian cuisine. Kaukswe — Burmese curry noodles served with a plethora of toppings — became a household name among the city’s swish set. Even his BusaGo chain of casual Pan-Asian bistros, in Bandra and BKC, launched less than five years ago continues to draw praise. So how did Nikhil, who was in a completely different profession, make it so big in the restaurant business? It all stemmed from a deep passion for food and cooking, says Nikhil.
Nikhil majored in Economics and Finance at the University of Rochester in New York, before he took the obvious step to get on to Wall Street during the ‘90s. Soon enough, he realised that he couldn’t go on as an investment banker for more than a year. His love for travel took him to the far corners of Asia, and when he returned Nikhil perfected the art of making Tibetan momos as well as the iconic Burmese dish, the recipes of which belonged to his grandmother. The self-taught chef began a catering service in South Mumbai in 1995 with Kaukswe as its main offering. The year 1999 saw the launch of Busabong on Goa’s buzzing Baga strip — the restaurant was a favourite among tourists and locals alike, not just for its food, but also for its chic ambience. Although the Goa outpost has long shuttered, the two Busaba branches in Mumbai still live on along with two BusaGo outlets. Step into any of the restaurants and you’ll understand why Nikhil’s is a classic example of a sustainable restaurant business. Besides offering consistent and authentic food, his tastefully decorated restaurants — especially the award-winning Busaba — have a chic and trendy vibe, complete with a well-curated playlist. Today, as the restaurant group’s executive chef, Nikhil keeps his passion for food alive by innovating and introducing new dishes every now and then. He has even created his own line of hot sauces! In between feeding his love for travel, Nikhil also contributes to magazines and newspapers as a food columnist.
Twitter - @nikhilchib
Facebook – Nikhil Chib
Interviewed & Video Credits : Beverly Pereira & Madhav Sarogi
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