Masque in India named Asia’s 50 best One to Watch

The co-founders of Mumbai’s pioneering Masque restaurant celebrate the success at a tough time for the industry

When chef Prateek Sadhu and CEO Aditi Dugar opened Masque restaurant in Mumbai three years ago it was with a grand vision of redefining the perception of Indian cuisine. The aim was to highlight indigenous ingredients and put a new modern twist on the food of a country with old and rich traditions.

The efforts of the Masque team were recently recognised when Asia’s 50 Best restaurants named the restaurant as the One to Watch for the 2020 edition of the celebrations for the best restaurants in the region.

The acknowledgement is emotional for the team. “For the past three years we have changed the perception of Indian food and what people think about it. Getting the award is very motivational for everybody,” says Sadhu.

“We are really looking forward to what the future has for us and we hope we can really continue to put Indian food and India on the global map.”

Difficult decisions

But the happy news has come at a challenging time for restaurants all over the world. Speaking from Mumbai during the coronavirus crisis, Sadhu and Dugar concede that they are having to make some very difficult decisions; among them whether to close Masque temporarily.

“More than anything we have to be responsible for everyone’s safety,” says Sadhu. While there is no official mandate to close restaurants in India, Aditi adds that restaurants are routinely being asked to close in the evenings to limit the spread of infections.

“But I think the official mandate is coming. The numbers of infected people are increasing, it is week three now and the numbers are up,” she explains. The two are working on ideas to keep some level of business while looking after their team. “Right now, it is just thoughts because even for the team to come to work they have to use public transport. So, we have to consider how we can bring business in with a small team.”

Under normal circumstances the two would expect the One to Watch award to drive business. “We would expect reservations to go up, but these are unprecedented times and I don’t know what is going to happen,” says Sadhu. “We all just need to be positive and look forward to what is coming.”

Confident and positive

Dugar says earning the recognition has been a collaborative effort from the whole 18-strong team. “Every person who works at Masque has contributed to our victory and everybody has brought ideas to the table,” she says.

“We have so many young minds and they believe in us and Prateek in the kitchen gives them the liberty to come up with ideas.”

Though things are difficult currently, they are both hopeful. “There is a lot of uncertainty but the team is very pumped, we are all in this together. If we have to shut for a month, or a month and a half, it will impact the business a lot. When we open we can just hope guests will show us the same love,” says Sadhu.

“You can always make the money back if you are confident, positive and deliver in the same energy.”

Tina Nielsen

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