Hi! I'm Neerali; a British-born Indian chef with a particular passion for Italian cooking. I have been working as a chef for just over 6 years now, since graduating from the University of Reading with a degree in Nutrition & Food Science, but my love affair with great food started from a very young age. Coming from a big Indian family I grew up surrounded by delicious food, from day-to-day comforting dinners to the extravagant festive treats. The Italian influence came along when my aunty married a lovely Genoese man in Italy. I fell in love with the food, the culture, the lifestyle and the people; and although I've travelled to many countries, near and far, I always end up back in some part of Italy to discover new secrets.
During my time at university I discovered my true calling was more so in the practical side of food; cooking for friends and colleagues, hence my decision to join the kitchen team of a lovely pub straight after my graduation. After spending a great year & a half learning the way a fast-paced kitchen was run I decided it was time to step up a level, entering into the world of a 1 rosette restaurant, The Modern Pantry. In my 6 months there I learnt the art of fusing different cuisines together. I learnt a huge array of skills from the many talented and multinational chefs I worked with during my time there; from such things as meat and fish prep, making beautiful stocks and time-keeping to producing delicate yet punchy canapés and the importance of presentation. Following this I was given the opportunity to spend a couple of months in Calabria, Italy. I learnt about the vibrant produce of that region whilst living with a wonderful Calabrian family and visiting their farm, and gained experience working in a taditional Calabrian restaurant, La Collinetta, where local produce is used to make exceptional dishes routed around the traditions of the area. After returning to London I worked as kitchen manager at a new bakery-come-cafe/restaurant, serving breakfast/brunch, sourdough base pizzas, biancas, paninis, pasta dishes & cicchetti (Italian-style tapas). I moved on to become the chef for Climpson & Sons Cafe, where I spent a year in a shipping container kitchen at Climpson's Arch baking lots of wonderful sweet treats as well as creating experimental and unusual sandwiches and salads. During that year I was lucky enough to be witness to the brilliance of Somsaa and Londrino, with whom I occasionally shared the kitchen space.
All this experience inspired me to branch out on my own as a freelance chef, catering for canapè parties, special dinners, and cooking classes, as well as collaborating with my sister, Sonali, to host a supper club, Nights at the Round Table, which we have been doing now for 3 years, and hosting my own supper clubs, such as Regional Italian Nights at The Wilds and Tapas Nights at Stonewines.
Through all this I have learnt that the key to truly great food is in the simplicity of using beautiful ingredients.
In my spare time I volunteer with a great team at Muswell Hill Soup Kitchen, cooking wholesome meals from scratch for homeless and vulnerable people, and enjoy teaching cooking courses at Age UK Barnet. I have also been lucky enough to have been involved with Refettorio Felix which is a collaborative project between The Felix Project and Food for Soul, founded by Massimo Bottura!