Conversations With Indulge – Gauri Devidayal

Gauri Devidayal is a law graduate from University College London and a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants England & Wales. She pursued her career as a tax consultant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in London and Mumbai for 8 years.
After 8 years in London, Gauri returned to Mumbai where she was born and brought up. In early 2008, she met her husband, Jay Yousuf and was persuaded to leave the tax profession and to join him on his restaurant adventure. With no previous experience of the hospitality industry and having never dreamt of doing anything entrepreneurial, Gauri nevertheless supported Jay in creating The Table, a restaurant in South Mumbai, which has gone on to win many accolades and much recognition in the city as well as
internationally, including being rated the #3 restaurant in the country by a leading travel publication.
While planning the restaurant’s popular wine list, Gauri was encouraged to take on the Wine and Spirits Education Trust’s Level III exam which she completed with a flying distinction. She was also on the jury panel of the India Wine Awards for the last two years and has been at the forefront of the farm to table initiative for the restaurant by setting up The Table Farm in Alibag, from where the restaurant gets much of its fresh produce.

Gauri is one of the very few restaurateurs in India

In 2016, Gauri co-founded Magazine St. Kitchen, a culinary playground for intimate dinners, cooking workshops and more, housed in a restored heritage structure, in Byculla – a space that has already created an unparalleled buzz within the food community. The Kitchen is also the base for the wholesale and retail bakery – Mag St. Bread Co and the group’s catering arm, Dining Table.
In 2018, Gauri partnered with the team from Neighbourhood Hospitality (Woodside Inn, The Pantry & Bombay Vintage) to open Miss T, a South East Asian fine dining restaurant and cocktail lounge in Colaba, which has also gone on to win many accolades including the Best New Restaurant in Mumbai.
Most recently, Gauri co-hosted a podcast called The Colaba Cartel, a show on what goes into the making of a restaurant in Mumbai and is currently working on her second podcast show.
Gauri, now 38, lives with her husband and 6 year old daughter, Dia. As one of the very few women restaurateurs in India, she is a full time hands-on businesswoman and mother and handles both roles with equal enthusiasm. She was recently listed in GQ’s list of the 50 Most Influential Young Indians as well as BlackBook’s Top 50 Women in Indian Luxury, and is the only woman on the Managing Committee of the National Restaurant Association of India. Occasionally Gauri also writes for print and
online publications on her favourite subject – food and travel.

What inspired you to start a restaurant business?

In 2016, Gauri Devidayal co-founded Magazine St. Kitchen

Back in 2008-09, the standalone restaurant industry in Bombay was at such a nascent stage that there were limited options for diners. I guess it was Jay and my greed for good food and a clear opportunity in the market, that made us think about opening a restaurant. 

Some tips for running a successful restaurant?  

 I have three tips – consistency, consistency, consistency. It’s not about fancy frills but about great food, beverage and most importantly hospitality. But if you don’t have consistency, you won’t be around too long.Which are the best restaurants you’ve dined in?  

How do you define the best dining experience?

An experience that you keep thinking about long after it’s over. 

What’s your most preferred cuisine?

That’s like asking me to pick a favourite child! My cravings change with my mood, but if I absolutely had to pick one, it would probably be Japanese.  

What’s the future of fine dining restaurants in India? 

I think there’s more of a future in the category of casual fine dining, than classic fine dining. We operate in a price sensitive market and given the amount of choice available now, our diners seem to have a limited propensity towards the conventional fine dining. On the other hand, casual fine dining, which is less stuffy but has the hallmarks of great food, beverage and service, is likely to be around for a while.

What’s your favourite tipple at the end of a busy day?

A glass of red wine. 

What’s your advice to young professionals working in the hospitality industry?

 Be willing to work hard and learn fast. Don’t be in some race to climb up the ranks and stay committed to one place. It’s not just about learning recipes or getting a restaurant on your CV. It’s also about showing prospective employers how you have grown within an organisation. 

What’s the most motivating factor that keeps you going in this line of profession?

Recognition from our diners in the form of repeat custom.

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