The Big Feast

 What would you expect to see at a laboratory? Beakers of coloured liquids oozing out smoke, a mad scientist with crazy hair? Transform that image to something much nicer, something more pleasant… something truly decadent like, say, chocolate! RITZ takes a tour of Sandy’s Chocolate Laboratory aka Sandy’s and gets a more than a couple of whiffs of the owner’s delicious tale.

Sandesh Reddy, one of the city’s most well-known and best-loved food entrepreneurs may seem like he has it all covered now – the business acumen and the love for food, but the man instantly wins us over as he candidly admits that it took him a couple of failures to get to where he is today. “Sandy’s was my third attempt at the food business. Previously, the restaurants that I set up did not gain the popularity that I hoped they would. But then again, I think that this was because people no longer want what I like to call, a Plain-Jane restaurant. A chocolate lab was something that sounded fun and crazy and it has clicked,” he says.

Though Sandy’s started off as a chocolate lab, Sandesh’s love for food soon prompted him to experiment further. Today the five-page menu at Sandy’s has its fair share of cocoa but also allows customers to choose from a larger spread of all-day breakfasts, sea food platters and more. “I have spent a lot of time in the kitchen exploring and perfecting most of the things on the menu. The others are ideas and flavours that have been innovated by my chefs,” he laughs.

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The man takes no chances with the quality of food that leaves the kitchen and even goes to the extent of sourcing his meats from outside the state. For instance, the pork sausages are from Delhi, and Sandesh is said to even specially source free range beef.

Moving on to how the man curates his menu, Sandesh Reddy says that Sandy’s does not follow a set menu every month. “It is constantly evolving. Trends change and so do tastes. I spend about fifteen days a month in New York, understanding the food scene there and figuring out how best we can experiment with the flavours at our restaurant.”  On a side note, he says that the menu only has food and flavours that he likes. “You will never find paneer on the menu!” We have no protests, after all it is Sandy’s!

Despite being a stickler for what’s on the bill of fare and what is not, the man does make a couple of exceptions. “I had a friend whose father used to love his tuna sandwich and though it was never on the menu, every time he came in he would order for the sandwich. I always kept a can of tuna in the larder just for him,” recalls Sandy adding, “Once he passed away, I added it to the menu in his memory.”

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Apart from Sandy’s, Sandesh Reddy owns the Old Madras Baking Company, Ox and Tomato and runs a franchise of Social. He proudly says that his lady backs him up. “My wife helps me handle these places. She too has a very keen eye for detail.”

Sandy also plans on opening a bar called Radio Room and further expanding with another restaurant called The Dining Company.

The well curated menu aside, each of his enterprises carries a unique ambience and attracts a different clientele. “We set up Ox and Tomato and Old Madras Baking Company as something that would be affordable to as many people as possible. We also have a very quirky menu at these places, like donuts that are made out of milk bread and the Elvis donut, which is a peanut butter and banana donut sandwich.” Social, however, demands a different treatment.

Sandesh has not had any culinary training and it is clear it is simple passion that drives him. As we end our conversation, we ask him what one can expect to see on the menu this month. He says, “You’ll just have to come on over to Sandy’s.”