Mumbai is home to plenty of modern Indian restaurants serving up their inventive take on regional cuisines, and O Pedro, situated in the ritzy BKC neighbourhood, is one of them. Owned by Hunger Inc. Hospitality, its progressive Goan and Portuguese-inspired fare—think dishes like Rita’s chicken omelette curry (a take on the famous ros omelette), fresh poee served with balchao- and choriz-flavoured butters, Lisbon’s popular pasteis de nata (warm egg custard tarts), and more, is a hot-favourite among the city’s gourmands. Behind all the deliciousness is a team led by executive chef Hussain Shahzad, along with senior sous chef Shraddha Tayade, who started as a young commis at sister restaurant, The Bombay Canteen, eight years ago.
In an exclusive conversation with Bazaar India, Tayade tells us how she got into the culinary field, how she treads the fine line between being creative and authentic, and what’s in the offing for O Pedro.
Harper’s Bazaar India: What do you cook on your days off or for yourself at home?
Chef Shraddha Tayade: As a professional restaurant chef, my days off are precious for me to relax and enjoy cooking in a wholly different setting. At home, I often opt for meals that are more straightforward and comforting, yet flavourful and well-balanced. I find happiness in simple, hearty meals that reconnect me to home and my mom’s style of cooking, which brings me a tremendous sense of comfort. Maharashtrian-style varan bhaat (dal rice) accompanied by fried fish (marinated home-style) and a tangy mango pickle hold a special place in my heart. The flavours are subtle yet deeply satisfying, the textures are heart-warming, and the experience is a reminder of the joys of uncomplicated cooking.
HB: How did you enter the culinary field—take us through the journey.
ST: When I was about 13-years old, I’d watch my dad cook up a storm in the kitchen. It was his love and passion for cooking that inspired me to be a chef. But like every conventional Indian family, I was convinced to take up a more formal education and pursue a degree in sociology. However, my constant calling and desire to work in the culinary world pushed me to pursue hotel and tourism management. I began my journey with Hunger Inc. Hospitality at The Bombay Canteen, eight years ago. Before that I worked at Suzette and Terttulia in Mumbai. When O Pedro was ready to open, Chef Hussain Shahzad was looking for a mix of new and seasoned chefs to join his team. I moved to O Pedro in 2017 as a trainee sous chef. My journey, from a trainee to the senior sous chef at O Pedro, has truly been a fulfilling one.
HB: What’s your definition of ‘modern Indian’ food or ‘modern regional food’?
ST: Food cannot be called ‘modern’ unless it is ‘progressive’. It needs to be something that evolves with time. ‘Progressive Indian' and 'progressive regional food' encapsulates the harmonious blend of the tradition and innovative elements. At Hunger Inc. Hospitality and O Pedro, we use culinary traditions as the guide and foundation to create something contemporary, to make it more relevant to our times. Progressive food represents culinary innovation, while embracing traditions with modern techniques and global influences. It includes the use of unique flavour combinations and ingredients native to a region, which are adapted and melded with new-age techniques.
HB: Where do you find inspiration for your menus for—is it ingredient-first or dish-first?
ST: As a chef, I find inspiration all around me. Inspiration for menus can stem from different sources, and we never follow any single, standard approach when creating it. From the culinary vision, to the cuisine and concept and the availability of ingredients—the journey from inspiration to the plate is a creative and dynamic process. There is never one approach, and we often interweave them to shape a well-rounded menu. It can be an ingredient's potential based on which we craft a dish that complements and elevates that ingredient or it could be about keeping in mind a dish we want to create or re-imagine and then exploring ingredients that can realise that vision while maintaining a connection to regional or cultural influences.
HB: O Pedro is known for modern Goan dishes—how do you ensure there is a balance between being creative and being authentic?
ST: Authenticity is subjective—what might be authentic to me, might not necessarily be authentic to someone else, and vice-versa. It is the taste and deliciousness of the dish that guides our journey, and that’s what we set out to achieve. This, while making use of local and regional ingredients, flavours, and cooking styles of Goa or Portugal that inspire the cuisine we serve at O Pedro.
HB: What is your cooking philosophy?
ST: My philosophy is to create a blend of diverse culinary traditions, each contributing its unique essence to craft flavours that bring comfort and evoke nostalgic connections. I find joy in weaving together elements from various cuisines, and infusing them with creativity to present dishes that spark joy for the diner.
HB: What are some of your favourite dishes on the O Pedro menu?
ST: I have many. I’ll start with Pedro’s Ceviche—inspired by Goa’s favourite “fried fish”, it is packed with bright and refreshing flavours. Cured fish is laid over a power-packed emulsion of tamarind, ginger, garlic and chillies. It is then topped with Bhavnagiri chilli salsa and crunchy tempura crumbs. Next would be the Prawn Bal-Chow. Traditionally, balchao is a Goan pickle, but as an experiment, we made a fresh balchao pickle and stir-fry prawns with it. Another dish close to my heart is Beryl’s Fish Curry—a recipe from Chef Floyd’s home, this is a coconut-based curry with hints of raw mango, red chillies, and soft, delicate pieces of locally-sourced fish. It is timeless, comforting, and delicious.
HB: What is the one piece of advice you would give to aspiring chefs?
ST: My advice is, be extremely patient. It's a journey that requires time and consistent efforts. Be patient with yourself as you hone your skills, experiment with flavours, and refine your techniques. Hard work is the cornerstone of success in the culinary realm. Be prepared for long hours, demanding tasks, and challenges that will test you every single day. Remember, this profession demands deep commitment; it's a road that's far from easy but is incredibly rewarding.
HB: What’s next for O Pedro?
ST: Our kitchen is constantly alive with experiments as we blend tradition and innovation to present dishes that are familiar, yet wonderfully unexpected. Our latest offering is the Pedro’s Brunch, which is a weekend brunch menu that includes dishes that are big on flavours, inspired by our travels across the sunshine state, re-imagined in quintessential O Pedro style. For new things in the offing, all I’d say is to keep your eyes peeled for what’s in store.
On chef Shraddha Tayade: Shirt: Cosset Clothing; Pants: Au courant; Blazer: Aroma; Necklace: AishR; Earrings: Slow Studio Official
Photographed by: Sana Chhabra
Styled by: Natasha Hemani and Kavya Shah
Hair and makeup by: The Hair Bar, Aayushi Parekh, Harry
Assisted by: Anushka Sharma, Anoushka Shah, Anushi Shah
Photo assistant: Tarun Amarnani