Chef to Watch: Avinash Shashidhara, Head Chef of Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai

Alex South

Alex South


Chef to Watch: Avinash Shashidhara, Head Chef of Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai

Born and raised in Bangalore, India, Avinash is transforming traditional homestyle Indian cooking into a masterful display at his restaurant Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai in London’s Fitzrovia.

Avinash’s hospitality career started off after he pursued a degree in hotel management before moving to the UK in 2005, starting his journey at Claude Bosi’s two Michelin-starred Hibiscus in Ludlow.

Eager to develop his career further, the young chef left the restaurant to take up work at John Hoskins’ The Old Bridge Hotel.

Describing his time there, Avinash revealed: "It was very wine-focused, with a 2-rosette restaurant. I really enjoyed my time there, working with some great chefs. Avinash then undertook a stage at Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray’s Michelin-starred River Café in Hammersmith, quickly making a big impression to the restaurant’s owners."

"Rose Gray offered me a job at the end of the stage and I did take up on her offer, a year on! It was one of the best career choices I made – and I worked there 10 years," he explained.

Describing his time at River Café and the impact it had on him as a young chef, Avinash explained: “It was absolutely amazing. It was an ingredients-led kitchen with a daily changing menu and simple cooking techniques. I got to learn so much about seasonality and classical Italian cooking."

He added: "I’d grown up with that kind of culture where you'd go to the markets every day, where you would shop every day and come back and cook a meal with what you bought. That's how my mum cooked, so the River Café’s way of cooking with the seasons, using the best produce resonated with me."


Avinash’s cooking is a beautiful combination of his Indian heritage and his extensive experience working in some of the UK’s most prestigious restaurants.

Presenting his philosophy on food, Avinash explained: "I'm a big believer in using what's grown, and what's in season and what’s around you, because I think it nourishes your body and your soul. I think it's so important to promote that from a sustainability perspective."

Everything from the restaurant’s Papadi Chat, a rich combination of yoghurt, datterini tomatoes, pomegranate, Delicia pumpkin, mint & tamarind chutney, to the Mangalore Bun & Scottish Crab Sukkah, is designed to transport the diner through a wonderfully vibrant journey of the senses, without them physically leaving the restaurant.

Highlights at the restaurant include the Pahli Hill Tandoori Chicken Tikka, served with cucumber, coriander, mint & horseradish; Chargrilled Ox Heart, cooked in Mathania chilli and yoghurt sauce; as well as the incredibly delicious Homestyle Fish Curry, with wild halibut, mussels, tomato, green mango, tamarind & coconut.


Opening in 2020, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai has quickly established itself as one of London’s best Indian restaurants, perfectly encapsulating Avinash’s desire to share the meals and food culture of his home, with diners visiting the restaurant.

Open for just over two years, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai has already amassed critical acclaim from some of Britain’s most respected food guides and critics, with restaurant receiving a Bib Gourmand from the Michelin Guide.

"The food at Pahli Hill is very homestyle and seasonal, we're trying to take it back to what I or some of my chefs would eat at home growing up in India" explained Avinash.

He added: "I get my chefs to cook from their memories of comfort food rather than from what they learned to cook at other restaurants. Food they grew up eating, food their families had cherished memories about. That, to me is so much more meaningful than cooking from some cookbook or recreating recipes tried at another restaurant."

Built on the site of the iconic Indian - Gaylord restaurant, Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai is comprised of a restaurant on the ground floor, and a cosy bar downstairs.

The restaurant upstairs caters for 60 covers, with the bar providing 35 seats to guests, with both spaces featuring eye-catching art deco interiors running throughout.

As well as high quality food and design, Avinash’s kitchen and front house teams are made up of exceptional professionals from a wide range of backgrounds, something that Avinash is passionate about Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai.

Describing his team’s background, Avinash explained: "I've got a really diverse team of chefs, some of them have worked in Indian restaurants for 25 years from different parts of India. I have three women working for us, all of whom are brilliant home cooks, and some had never even worked in a professional kitchen before."


Avinash’s aims for the future are clear; continue strengthening the Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai team ensuring it remains diverse and full of fresh ideas, whilst growing the restaurant’s reputation as one that brings real Indian food to light.

Looking to the future, Avinash said: "When people think of an Indian restaurant, I want them to think about my cooking. People are so well-travelled now and they go to India and they come back and they say ‘I tried this thing in India and it's a shame I’ve never seen it on the menu in restaurants in the UK’, so I want to bring those very basic kinds of peasant dishes from India and educate people about what real Indian food is."

Avinash’s desire to strengthen his team, in particular helping young chefs find their feet in the industry, is largely inspired by his experiences at River Café and his journey through the hospitality industry.

"I always tell the younger chefs to go back to their roots and learn about their family’s food traditions; read good books, go and eat in good places because if you eat well, you then know what good food should taste like and then you end up cooking well."

Offering his advice to the next generation of young chefs, Avinash added: "Most importantly have a good time when you're working in a restaurant, enjoy yourself and love what you do. When there’s passion, especially when it comes to something creative like cooking, your food will be great!"

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Alex South

Alex South

Editor 2nd March 2023

Chef to Watch: Avinash Shashidhara, Head Chef of Pahli Hill Bandra Bhai