Chef Jehangir’s commitment to a ‘reuse and recycle’ culture is borderline religious. So, if you want to work with him, you should hold these values to similar standards as well.
In the kitchen, he is both extremely relaxed and undoubtedly particular, which sets a certain kitchen culture and tone attracting a staff with matching priorities. The Graffiti kitchen is very small so mistakes and successes are noticed swiftly. His kitchen staff can name their hours or introduce new procedures as long as the job gets done and their station is ready on time. Chef Jehangir has created a culture of combined self-motivation and pride. This is evident in the seamless nature of the kitchen and wait staff where the chef is encouraged to mingle with customers and even serve guests so the customers sees the staff as one.
The kitchen is a give and take where harmony is a necessity. This works well for Chef Mehta who embraces this philosophy and inspires those who appreciate the culture he’s created. Longevity is the norm; most staffers stay – the longest was 16 years.
Starting out as a Pastry Chef and cutting his teeth at Jean Georges as well as Mercer Kitchen is what influences his dishes today. His love of spices add a dimension to reinterpret and reinvent dishes such as his Chocolate Mole sauce. He favors spices from his native India as well as Mexico, Thailand and Korea. Getting just the right balance of ingredients and spices is important, then innovating them into new dishes is Chef Mehta’s favorite way to captivate his diners.
Chef Mehta sees a resurgence in the East Village, especially more cultural and ethnic restaurants that are starting up in other NYC neighborhoods. Graffiti opened when the East Village was still in a state of grunge, so they’re no stranger to the different stages of gentrification.
People who mesh with Graffiti’s culture are also of other cultures themselves. It isn’t only the dishes with international roots, the staff is as well. Chef Mehta believes that the more people are exposed to different cultures and foods, the more familiar they become leading to an acceptance of all cultures and cuisines.
A dual focus on the environment and well-being are all part of the better world that Mehta believes in, a world which emphasizes compassion.
To read more about Jehangir and his zero waste journey, visit Zero Waste Kitchen.
Chef Jehangir Mehta is a BlueCart user and advocate. For more information on being as efficient and sustainable as Jehangir, visit BlueCart.