Distinguished years ago as one of the country’s top tandoor masters, Hemant Mathur started a new chapter in his illustrious career when he opened his own restaurant, Tulsi. He brings his reputation as “the Yo-Yo Ma of tandoor cooking” to midtown Manhattan as Tulsi’s executive chef and co-owner, and continues to treat diners to top-notch Indian cuisine that sparkles with distinct, clean flavors and a delicious balance of high-quality ingredients, spicy flair, tradition and modern innovations.
Since opening in 2011, Tulsi was awarded a Michelin star rating for 2012, which named the 55-seat restaurant as “the ‘incomparable one’” with regional creations from Chef Mathur that are “original, dashing and studied.” Mathur was also lauded by The New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton who stated, “Mr. Mathur cooks like a dream,” and for regional Indian creations that are “original, complex and steeped in powerful, mysterious curries that stay in your mind for days” by Steve Cuozzo of New York Post
The menus at Tulsi offer such new creations from Chef Mathur as: Black Chickpea Kadhi, Savory Banana Dumplings, Masala Ceviche, Goat Rogan Josh and Duck Moilee;and, of course, his signature Tandoor-Grilled Lamb Chops, Jackfruit Biryani and Tandoori Prawns.
Prior to Tulsi, Mathur teamed up with Suvir Saran as the co-executive chefs of Dévi in New York, which they opened in 2004. At Dévi, Mathur was the reigning chef in the kitchen for six years, garnering attention and kudos from international dining fans as well as the media, including The New York Times, New York Magazine, Time Out New York, The New Yorker, New York Observer, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Departures, Details, Crain’s New York Business and Bloomberg Radio. Dévi was also awarded a Michelin one-star rating for 2008 and 2007 – the first and only Michelin-star Indian restaurant in North America at that time.
Mathur came to the United States 17 years ago from his hometown of Jaipur, India, by way of Mexico and Germany. He contributed to the success of some of New York’s top Indian restaurants, and his love of the authentic flavors of his youth helped bring a new level of sophistication and innovation to Indian food in America. Working under the late Raji Jallepalli, Mathur’s cooking created a huge buzz at Tamarind, which he helped to open in 2000. He then became the executive chef of Diwan Grill in 2002, where he fused French and American culinary and service concepts with traditional Indian cuisine. He also served as opening co-chef at the highly touted Amma in 2003.
His professional career began at age 17 as an apprentice at the Rambagh Palace Taj Hotel in Jaipur, where he gained a steady training in kitchen expertise from bakery and garde manger to butchery and classic elements of Indian cuisine. After four years, Mathur was eager to hone his craft in the art of tandoor cooking and joined the world-renowned Bukhara Restaurant in the Maurya Sheraton Hotel in New Delhi. After three years, he traveled to Mexico to serve as the private chef for British financier Sir James Goldsmith and further expand his culinary horizons.
Returning to India, Mathur opened the restaurant Sonar Goan in Calcutta’s Taj Bengal Hotel where he stayed until recruited by a group of German restaurateurs to bring his craft to Berlin at Seeterrson and Kashmir Palace, where he worked for three years.
He has been a featured chef at The James Beard House and a participating chef at the “Worlds of Flavor” conferences organized by the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone. He has also participated in numerous industry and cause-related events such as the Food Network New York City Wine & Food Festival; LUCKYRICE; Epcot International Food & Wine Festival; Grand Central Partnership’s “Grand Gourmet;” Union Square Partnership’s “Harvest in the Square;” Asia Society’s Celebration of Asia Week Gala Benefit; Citymeals-on-Wheels “Taste of New York” and “Feast of Many Moons” at Rockefeller Center; Share Our Strength “Taste of the Nation;” and City Harvest “Summer in the City.”
Mathur has done cooking demonstrations on television programs such as PBS “How To Cook Everything: Bittman Takes On America’s Chefs” and “Food Trip with Todd English;” NYC-TV “Eat Out NY” with Kelly Choi; Travel Channel’s “Epicurious TV” with Michael Lomonaco; ImaginAsia TV “Pulse;” and “CBS 2 News Live with Dana Tyler.”
He is married to Pastry Chef Surbhi Sahni, and they live in New York City with their daughter Soumyaa.