Our Diversity Champions
Introduced in 2015, Diversity Champion gives an opportunity for a speaker to discuss their personal journey and involvement in the life of the capital. Conceived as a ’10-minute’ showcase prior to the main speaker, it is an opportunity for the audience to listen to the perspective of one notable individual who represents something of the rich diversity of the London community.
Dato’ Dr. Kah-Ming Ng
Haifa Al Kaylani
DIVERSITY CHAMPION – Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL
Chef Patron, Café Spice Namaste and Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen
From the accolades ‘chef of genius’ʹ and ‘creator of the classiest curries in the City’ to 2014 BBC Food Personality of the Year, the Bombay-born Parsee chef Cyrus Todiwala OBE DL has been called all manner of good things, but the Chef Patron of Cafe Spice Namasté, Mr Todiwala’s Kitchen, and The Park Café in Victoria Park East has kept his feet on the ground.
He cooks, teaches, writes, runs restaurants and supports charity and community – Cyrus’ restless, entrepreneurial soul means he’s never going to stand still. He’s never said no to a challenge, whether it was leaving a secure executive chef role at Taj Hotels in Goa 21 years ago to start over in the UK, or daring to combine flavours, spices and ingredients in innovative ways. His ‘worst kept secret’ Khaadraas Club Dinners held at Café Spice Namasté every four-to-five weeks feature heirloom recipes from his mother and aunts, introducing his rich Parsee culinary heritage to a wider audience.
Despite being a hands-on chef, Cyrus Todiwala is author of six books and manages to make regular media appearances, including as regular guest chef on BBC1’s Saturday Kitchen. He teamed up with Scottish Chef Tony Singh in the BBC2 series The Incredible Spice Men, also appearing in The History Channel’s travelogue Galleons of Spice. He appears regularly at top food festivals, including Taste of London, BBC Good Food Show, Ludlow Food Festival and Abergavenny Food Festival.
Cyrus is recipient of a Craft Guild of Chefs ‘ Special Award and has been made Fellow of the Royal Academy of Culinary Arts and Master Chefs of Great Britain. He is a member of the Asian Restaurant Skills Board – a cause very close to his heart, having opened the pioneering Asian & Oriental School of Catering in 2000. Ever the innovator, ten years later, in 2013, Cyrus launched Zest Quest Asia, a first of its kind, with the Master Chefs of Great Britain, to help introduce Asian cookery to a new generation of homegrown talent. He is a Founding Member of the Guild of Entrepreneurs and a Freeman of the Worshipful Company of Cooks. He is an Ambassador of industry careers charity Springboard UK and the Clink Charity, an Enterprise Champion of LeSoCo and an Honorary Professor of the University of West London. He also holds an honorary doctorate from London Metropolitan University.
Cyrus was awarded an MBE by HM The Queen for services to education and training and an OBE for his contribution to the hospitality industry. He is a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London. In 2012, he cooked the very first luncheon for HM The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Tour, featuring his now famous Country Captain alternative shepherd’s pie recipe.
A passionate campaigner for sustainability and buying British, Café Spice Namasté’s list of green awards includes the Sustainable Food Award from the Corporation of London and a Special Achievement Award from the Footprint Forum. In 2016, it won a Triple Bottom Line Ethical Procurement Award and the Eat Out CSR Award. Cafe Spice Namasté, which has just celebrated its 21stst year, is the longest standing Michelin BIB Gourmand restaurant, having achieved the award continuously since 1997.