Stirring the Pot with Hubert DMello

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.

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Market Mondays – Peas

I eat my peas with honey,
I’ve done it all my life,
It does taste kind of funny,
But it keeps them on my knife. – Anonymous

Most commonly found in mixed frozen vegetables, the humble pea is one of the most versatile vegetables out there. Eaten fresh, dried, frozen or canned, peas  can be used in soups, stews, pies, risotto or curries, or fried and served as a snack.

The pea is actually a fruit, but is considered a vegetable for cooking purposes. There are many varieties of peas from sweet peas to snow peas or sugar snap peas, with some growing as vines and others low-growing plants suited to field cultivation. In Ontario, peas are at their peak in June and July.

The use of peas dates back to the Middle Ages when they were part of the typical diet along with broad beans and lentils. Peas are eaten throughout the world from Asia and India to Europe and North America.

Peas are an excellent source of folacin (Vitamin B9). They are also a source of Vitamins A and C, fibre and potassium. A half cup of cooked peas is only 70 calories.

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Treated Like a King at Udupi Palace

udupiappUdupi Palace
1460 Gerrard Street East
Dinner (no dessert) for two with all taxes, tip and mango lassi (unlicensed): $40

Everyone who visits Little India inevitably has their favourite place to eat. Mine happens to be a chain. Yes, a chain. Udupi Palace has locations in Maryland, Illinois, Seattle, Queens and Mountain View, California to name but a few. All focus on South Indian vegetarian food, and all are located in areas with a concentrated Southeast Asian population.

The Toronto location, smack in the middle of the Gerrard India Bazaar, is a basement space that disconcertingly resembles a banquet hall. Tile floors, granite tables, and trompe l’oeil paintings on the wall combine to make the space feel somewhat cold and stark. It’s freakishly clean to the point of being almost clinical, and while it doesn’t actually smell of bleach, I always have the impression that the whole place is “sanitized for your protection” every evening at closing.

None of that actually matters though, because no one comes here for the ambience. At Udupi Palace, it’s all about the food, and it’s the food that continues to pack people in.

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