New Food Entrepreneurs – A Special Roundup, Tuk Tuk Asia and Cupcakes Amore
Chennai’s foodscape is brimming with innovation and vigour. From new cooking techniques, to quirky interiors and fusion based menus, every restaurateur worth his salt is doing something different to keep his restaurant at the tip of everyone’s palete. RITZ meets six of the most avant-garde entrepreneurs in the food business.
Cupcakes of all colours with the funkiest of flavours, the most authentic Asian street cuisine and an easy-to-lounge in environ – Kavita Chesetty has shown Chennai what good food is all about with her restaurants Cupcakes Amore and Tuk Tuk Asia. RITZ caught up with Kavita over coffee and cupcakes to see what inspires her to create such amazing food.
Tuk Tuk Asia that shares its space with Cupcakes Amore has been designed in a way that gives you the experience of a Hawker market on the street of Malaysia. Kavita spends extra time and effort in making it as authentic to the region it is from as possible. She says, “I started this restaurant to give the people of Chennai a chance to try some international traditional flavours. I wanted to keep it casual so it is set up in a semi self-service method also known as the Bain Marie set up.”
Kavita was always a foodie, she first started a food magazine called Malli which consisted of food reviews and recipes but she gave that up two years ago to follow her dream of baking and cooking. What started out with baking for her daughter’s birthdays, during which she got great reviews for her cakes and sometimes even orders, ended up in her finally starting a business of her own – Cupcakes Amore.
At Cupcakes Amore the diligent baker decided to infuse her love for Asian street cuisine onto her menu and started serving Burmese Khow Suey once a week (only on Wednesdays) and it was a huge hit! Soon she did more research and felt she had the passion to bring good authentic food to people and thus was born Tuk Tuk Asia. Kavita is awake at 7 am baking everyday, while with help from Chef Shiva, the prep for Tuk Tuk Asia also commences. “Since Tuk Tuk Asia and Cupcakes Amore share the same kitchen space it is much easier to handle and manage both,” she tells us.
Among her main focus areas, is the endeavour to match the flavour with the original dishes and not vary from that. The recipes of all her cupcakes come from an Italian pastry chef and are made from scratch every morning. There are the standard cupcakes she has that don’t change from the original recipe. Of course, there is a creative side to the cupcakes and that’s where the premium flavours come in. Kavita says, “Flavours like peanut butter and jelly, pink lemonade and strawberry cheese cake are flavours that I have experimented with. All the ingredients I use are completely real and natural which I don’t think anybody else in the city is doing.”
While talking about Tuk Tuk Asia, the plan was always to keep it as authentic as the street food from that location. Kavita did not want to change or alter original recipes to suite the local palatte. The chef behind the magic is Shiva who is originally from Singapore. Kavita smiles, “I was really lucky to find Shiva as he has an understanding of the food I am trying to create and it makes the whole process easier” Quality is something that Kavita adamantly stands by. All the dishes on the menu are only available if the ingredients and raw material are available. If on a particular day a certain vegetable or protein is not up to her high standards it doesn’t go on the menu. This precision is what keeps people coming back for more of the restaurant’s high quality food.
The specials change every week , keeping things interesting. At Cupcakes Amore the premium cupcakes are the ones that are always changing not just weekly but also seasonally depending on various festivals. Kavita explains, “During Ramzan we have a biryani flavoured cupcake that is an absolute hit! The frosting has garam masala in it! But not just Ramzan, during Pongal we add a boondhi cupcake as well!” The Chilli Crab Sundays at Tuk Tuk Asia are aways a hit, and Kavita recalls a hilarious memory. “Once the crabs had just come in from the market and one got loose and started running around, so it’s as fresh as it gets!”