Ever since Surjit Singh Mattu was a young man in northwestern India he has had a business and numbers based mind set. It is this mindset which has continually propelled the quick learning chef to success in American busines
Originally an electrician, Surjit Singh Mattu left India in 1981 and arrived in Boston, Massachusetts where he started to pursue and explore a career in the restaurant business. He has always enjoyed cooking and this culinary experience helped him begin to learn and develop his own taste. This was the beginning of what would be a largely successful career. After living in Boston he had moved to Houston for a period and then in 1984 he packed and moved to Dayton to move closer to his sister and her husband, Dr. Sandhu of the University of Dayton’s Chemical Materials Engineering department. In Dayton he helped his sister in her restaurant, Taste of India. This exposure to the restaurant business inspired him to fall in love with cooking.
The first of his two restaurants, Amar India, opened in 1991 and then his second restaurant, Jeet India in 2003. He has had success in starting both restaurants and continually finds reward in hearing his customer’s appreciation. Cooking is an art to Surjit and serving his customers is a gratifying experience. Sharing his food is like sharing his heritage.
Surjit caters to many events and businesses all over the Midwest. On top of catering Surjit likes to give back to the community and he frequently donates to charity. Some specific charities include the Red Cross, March of Dimes and Leukemia Lymphoma Society.
His restaurant is commended as the 42nd best restaurant in the United States by Ben Schott’s, Schott’s Food and Drink. Surjit has won multiple awards for his cooking through the years and he has even had the opportunity to showcase his talents on Good Morning America and multiple local TV channels.
- What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
He enjoys working with cumin seeds and garlic.
- What ingredient do you dread?
There is nothing he dreads more than brown sugar, but that’s about it.
- What’s your favorite dish to make?
Chicken korma, chicken tikka masala
- What’s your favorite pig out food?
Chicken korma, rice and naan
- What restaurant, other than your own do you like to dine at in the Miami Valley?
Bravos (Particularly the Salmon), Bone Fish Grill, and any Mexican restaurant
- What’s your best advice for home chefs?
Don’t ever serve food that you wouldn’t want to eat yourself. Always use the best quality ingredients for the best taste. Do your own thing and adapt your own style.
- If you could invite any 4 guests to a dinner party who would they be and why?
He would invite the 4 pickiest customers and anyone else who would critique his cooking. He is always looking to improve his art!
- Who do you look up to in the industry and why?
He has always look up to his older sister. She had inspired him to open his own restaurants.
- What do you do in the Miami Valley on a day off?
He loves to go to any UD Flyer athletic event, especially basketball. He also likes to attend Dayton Dragon’s baseball games or sit and watch any sport on the television.
- Share a kitchen disaster, lucky break or other interesting story.
Interesting Story: One evening while in the restaurant a customer who had eaten at Amar India previously stopped by and dropped off a book with a marker within it. The books name was, Schott’s Food and Drink. Curiosity hit and the book was opened to the marker. Surjit realized the customer had found a list of 42 best restaurants in the U.S. with Amar India at 42. The author was unknown and he had no idea his restaurant had been featured on the list. He saw it as an accomplishment and an interesting surprise. He also found gratification that the customer notified him and had given him the book as a gift.
This Chef 10?’s article was put together by UD students in Professor Rebecca P. Blust’s UD Engineering Project Management class. Our four member team , Gracelyn Key, Sushmitha Rayinadi, Emily Strobach and Daniel Williams spent the semester learning how to meet with a client (DMM) define the project, put a plan together and execute it. This is the fifth of 9 Chef interviews they presented to us as their class project. To read the first two interviews please see below: