Hubert DMello was born in Mumbai, India where he graduated from Hotel Management in 1984. He ran a catering business in Mumbai from 1985 to 1990, when he moved to the US and joined Carnival Cruise Lines as a bartender. He eventually moved to Atlanta and opened an Indian restaurant and then moved the business to Jackson Heights in New York. After a successful run in New York, he moved to Toronto to be with his wife in 1996.

Over the years he travelled to India and learnt new Indian cuisines and cooking techniques.

After few stints in the food industry, he opened his first vegetarian restaurant in Toronto called Udupi Palace in September 2001, and is now in the process of opening a second restaurant on Gerrard Street called Nitya, which should be open by the end of July 2010.

What inspired you to become a chef?

Since the age of 16 in the catering business in India, I fell in love with food and cooking. I always wanted to experiment and learn; the kitchen has been my comfort zone, so to speak.

What is your favourite dish at the restaurant where you cook and why?

The Masala Dosa is one of my favourites; rice and lentil batter made into a big oval shape and stuffed with potato masala. It’s not too heavy and also the spice level is not as the regular spicy Indian food, quite filling though.

Three ingredients you couldn’t live without and why?

Garlic, Coriander and Cumin
Garlic minimizes the addition of too much salt and gives a unique flavour also good for digestion. Coriander is one of the most used ingredient in Indian cooking, it adds taste, and when sprinkled on top, the green colour gives a exotic look on to any dish. And cumin has a distinctive flavour and aroma which can also be toasted.

On your day off – what are you cooking at home? If you’re eating out, where do you go?

On my day off I tend to experiment with new things and my biggest critic, my wife, gets to try them. Or we simply settle down at a casual neighbourhood Thai restaurant.

What is your favourite thing about the food scene in Toronto?

As Toronto is a multicultural city, it’s full of different cuisines and the best part of living here is that anytime you can just browse online and drive to try something new or different.

What’s coming up?

I am very much looking forward to the “Annual Udupi Palace Spicy Dosa Eating Contest”, on July 18th, we are into our third year, the past two years have been great with participants from all over Ontario and the best of all the proceeds are donated to the SickKids Foundation this gives me more satisfaction and joy in organizing this event.