Dhaka is set to welcome an award-winning British chef, Simon Johnston to the ever-growing food scene as the executive chef at the new upmarket restaurant SAVVA which will feature contemporary European food against the backdrop of panoramic city views.
What kind of cuisine will you be introducing at SAVVA?
At SAVVA we are going to be introducing modern European cuisine. It will feature a mixture of casual dining, laid-back leisurely lunches, a cake and cafe culture in the daytime and an elevated fine dining experience in the evening.
We’re also going to be highlighting the Dhaka sharing experience, aiming to complement the positive aspect of dining in the city. We want to embrace and innovate modern dining in Dhaka.
What is your understanding of the food culture and restaurant scene in Dhaka?
Through my own research, after getting the opportunity to be a part of SAVVA, I quickly understood that the food scene in Dhaka is thriving, appetites are evolving and people are more willing to experiment with new flavours. It’s a very exciting time for food lovers in Dhaka.
The food culture and restaurant scene connect with the tradition of sharing meals with friends and loved ones, bringing people together.
What made you want to leave your current role and work at SAVVA?
When the opportunity came to be involved in SAVVA, and also be at the forefront of modern Dhaka, I felt it was the perfect chance to combine my experience and the city’s modernizing food scene to create something unique. I can’t wait to begin my Dhaka journey.
WHEN THE OPPORTUNITY CAME TO BE INVOLVED IN SAVVA, AND ALSO BE AT THE FOREFRONT OF MODERN DHAKA, I FELT IT WAS THE PERFECT CHANCE TO COMBINE MY EXPERIENCE AND THE CITY’S MODERNIZING FOOD SCENE TO CREATE SOMETHING UNIQUE. I CAN’T WAIT TO BEGIN MY DHAKA JOURNEY.
Are you planning to use and work with local ingredients in any way?
I felt it made perfect sense to use locally sourced products from local suppliers. Shrooms Ltd is a new project that started up three years ago and the last six months to a year they have started to produce some incredible mushrooms for the local market. The quality of the mushrooms enables us to elevate our dishes.
At SAVVA, we believe the freshest produce makes the best dishes.
My aim is to source as much local produce as possible.
Locally sourced is best for you, best for us and best for the environment.
Do you have any experience in cooking or eating South Asian food? What is your take on it?
I’m originally from Glasgow which has a strong South Asian community who are an integral part of the Scottish culture.
I’ve cooked South Asian dishes at home but mainly for my own pleasure. However, I’m looking forward to sampling the dishes and local produce. And I will use the techniques to help shape the new menu.
What sorts of customers are you expecting at SAVVA?
I’m hoping to appeal to most palates. From the business lunch crowd to a more intimate late-night gourmet experience. We plan to regularly change our menu, offer weekly or even daily specials, and to push our kitchen to give our guests something truly special.
What ingredient do you never use? And why?
There’s no ingredient I would refuse to put in a dish. I love cooking and I love the excitement of discovering new flavours. It’s my passion. The ingredient you reject could end up being the ingredient you need.
What is your signature dish? Can you cook it with a blindfold on?
I can’t say that I have a single signature dish. Although I definitely have techniques, styles and flavours that I favour. I love to bring the natural flavours of the dish to the palate.
But I’m just as happy eating in a 3 Michelin Star restaurant as I am eating a simple delicious burger. I can’t wait to be part of the team at Dhaka. I can’t wait for you guys to taste the new menu.
*Photograph by Eivan Sardar