The brainchild of the team behind Mumbai’s now-classic restaurant The Table, these names might be familiar: husband-wife duo Gauri Devidayal and Jay Yousuf, and chef Alex Sanchez (pictured below) are behind this space that effortlessly straddles two worlds, the one in full view, and the one usually kept behind closed kitchen doors. Here the kitchen is the star. Diners sit a floor above, tucking in with a full, elevated view of the chefs at work in their workspace below. What was once a shambolic facade now features a modish structure with an unassuming entrance. The founders have kept it raw, with some refinement. The warehouse's original features have been retained, as has its brickwork, but those bones contain a gleaming, state of the art kitchen now. Walking in you’ll encounter warm lighting, and an industrial vibe with light glinting off shining steel-top cooking counters.
The trio previously explored other secluded (nightmarish even) corners of the city for this venture. They approached architect Anand Patel to take on this former warehouse while staying true to the vibe of its surrounds. Anand’s vision involved a ground-up rebuild of some bits, while preserving some other bits (yes, those red-brick walls). The project spanned two years, but looking at the final space we’re certain every moment was well worth it. We could go on for hours, but what’s really got us excited is a little collaboration with Magazine Street Kitchen that you, Mumbaikars, can get in on. Mark September 30 on your calendars, because that’s the night of our Gatsby-inspired dinner, replete with 1920’s jazz, and our new line of dinnerware inspired by Bombay’s art-deco architecture. Tickets here.
In the interim, we’ve had a little chat with the founding members, and they were kind enough to answer our Nico Q&A.
Why the name Magazine Street Kitchen?
GD & JY: MSK is not just about the kitchen itself but also the neighbourhood of Bombay it’s located in. The challenge for us was not just about introducing a new dining concept, but also bringing our diners to a less trodden part of the city, which is steeped in history. So it was important for the name of the space to be associated with the location, which was formerly a hub for firearm dealers and their operations, thus the moniker Magazine.
How was MSK born?
GD: It was Jay and Alex’s brainchild. After struggling to find locations for another restaurant, this space fell into our lap, and the idea evolved from there. It wasn't an ideal location for a restaurant, so the concept of a prep kitchen came into play, and one thing led to another.
The single most unique feature of MSK conceptually:
GD & JY: It takes an open kitchen dining experience to a whole new level.
Tell us more about the space (architecturally, the interiors, the lighting, the mood)
GD & JY: We were very clear in our brief to our architect that we wanted to integrate a modern state-of-the-art kitchen into the existing warehouse space, retaining elements like the iron beams and columns, the brick walls, and the teak wood ceiling. I think we’ve successfully achieved this. The contemporary and the classic have been woven together beautifully. The space has stark, fuss-free feel with clean lines, which allows the star of the space – the kitchen equipment – to really stand out.
The one dish created at Mag St. Kitchen that has won your heart?
AS: The Japanese Cheesecake served with coconut, lychee and grapefruit.
GD & JY: That would have to be the Italian dish – the Timpano. It’s a dish inspired by the culinary cult classic film, Big Night, which was recreated for our inaugural dinner by Chef Alex Sanchez. It’s one of those dishes that could go either way, and you won’t know which until you actually cut a slice. The anticipation was nerve-racking, but it turned out beautifully and is an unforgettable memory.
The biggest event success at Mag St. Kitchen so far:
AS: I would say The Big Night - our inaugural dinner which was inspired from the cult classic movie, The Big Night.
GD: It’s unbelievable, it’s only been three months since we opened, and I literally can’t choose a single event that’s topped my list. But if I had to choose one, it would probably be the Food With Benefits event, where we had 9 of the city’s top chefs collaborate for a charitable cause. It was one of the first events we did, and it sold out within a few hours of being listed. During the dinner, watching all these great chefs come together was like watching our dream for this kitchen come true.
One guest chef you’ve had great fun working with?
AS: Definitely chef Rahul Akerkar when we cooked together for the Food with Benefits dinner at MSK.
GD: Again, it’s hard for me to pick one. A highlight for me definitely was to watch Chef Rahul Akerkar cooking in the kitchen. To see the man in action was a treat. We also had Chef Tim Dornon and Chef Andrew Black, both ex-chefs from Eleven Madison Park in New York. It was brilliant having chefs of their caliber working at MSK. Now, I’m looking forward to collaborating with Chef Manish Mehrotra from Indian Accent, later this month.
Is there a dream chef you’d like to see in your kitchen?
AS: I would love to have chef Joel Robuchon at MSK.
GD & JY: They’re too many to list, but if I had to pick one, probably Daniel Humm. I follow him on Instagram and he seems like a great guy, and one of the greatest chefs of our time.
Your favorite restaurant, anywhere in the world:
AS: Asador Extebarri in Spain.
GD: My current favourite is Ronin in Hong Kong. Desperately trying to get Chef Matt Abergel down to Magazine Street!
JY: Zuni Café in San Francisco
One thing about you (as individuals) not too many people know about:
AS: I studied classic jazz guitar for 12 years.
GD: I’m a math geek and Excel freak!
JY: I’m a closet chef.
Do you see Mag St. Kitchen thriving in other cities?
GD & JY: Absolutely. It’s a novel alternative to traditional restaurant dining, so it’s likely to be successful in any city with a thriving dining-out culture.
What can we look forward to at Mag St. Kitchen?
AS: Everything, literally. We have a series of exciting events lined up.
GD & JY: Exciting experiences every month. I hope that one day, the word about MSK spreads far and wide, and chefs approach us as opposed to the other way around!
Mag St. Kitchen is synonymous with _______?
GD: Collaborations, of the eating, drinking and cooking kind!
JY: Aspirational kitchen for upcoming chefs.