London based Gurpareet Bains was first thrust into the spotlight back in 2009, when he created “the world’s healthiest meal” – a simple Chicken Curry with Blueberries and Goji Berry Pilau – which contained the antioxidant-equivalent of 23 bunches of grapes (sounds delicious, and we want to try it!) Since then, his career has been on an uphill climb – with his debut recipe book, Indian Superfood (released in 2010) becoming a huge bestseller – and winning 2011 Chef of the Year in the English Curry Awards.
Gurpareet’s celebrity fans include celebrity fans include Their Royal Highnesses the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, Goldie Hawn, Dame Vivienne Westwood, Chris Evans and Theo Paphitis, who clearly all appreciate his distinctive culinary concept. He combines top anti-oxidant rich spices with nutrient-dense vegetables, fruits, low-fat proteins and nuts – widely known as superfoods – to create a collection of the world’s most antioxidising recipes.
We chatted to Gurpareet about his life in London, and picked up some great tips along the way!
TLL: What’s your favourite area of London?
Gurpareet Bains: I love Soho for its bohemian vibe. There are some really great cafes, bars as well as restaurants, and the atmosphere is electric. Chinatown is also thrown in to the mix and adds to the somewhat frenetic pace of Soho.
TLL: If you had a free day in town, and an unlimited budget what would you do?
Gurpareet Bains: I’d probably find myself starting the day with a big breakfast and then heading to a spa for some pampering, this would be followed by checking into a 5* luxury hotel. Later in the evening I would spoil myself with a few drinks at a bar, followed by dinner and then a relaxing night in at the hotel in front of the TV, perhaps with some room-service. These are the things that I never get around to doing because I’m busy running around London like a mad dog.
TLL: Favourite bar or pub?
Gurpareet Bains: London for me has always been about travel, and accordingly I’m in love with the Champagne Bar at Saint Pancras International. The European trains departing and arriving, combined with the dazzling station architecture conjure up an international flair. What better a place to soak up the buzzing atmosphere whilst sipping on bubbly? If it all gets too much, there’s always an option to jump on the Eurostar train to Paris!
TLL: Restaurant you’d recommend?
Gurpareet Bains: Wong Kei in Chinatown/Soho is one of my all-time-favourite restaurants. With authentic Chinese food for less than a fiver washed down with endless pots of green tea, who can complain?!
TLL: Hotel you would choose to stay in?
Gurpareet Bains: Although it isn’t a 5* hotel, I adore the Hoxton Hotel in Old Street for its great boutique and casual atmosphere and unpretentious staff – they really know how to make you feel at home. There is a lovely chillaxed bar and restaurant serving great casual food with a real “New York State of Mind” (think hamburgers and macaroni!). Once you’ve had enough burgers, you will some of London’s finest Vietnamese restaurants on the Hoxton’s doorstep.
TLL: Best place for a first date?
Gurpareet Bains: On a sunny day I’d head for Richmond for tea on the riverbank perhaps followed by an intimate picnic in one of the parks. Richmond is one of the very few places in London where you can truly be alone together. If it rains, there’s always a lovely cinema, and a Wagamama for lunch or dinner!
TLL: What do you LOVE about London?
Gurpareet Bains: I LOVE the way how nearly every street and suburb in London has its own unique feel. You could never discover London in its entirety in one lifetime alone!
TLL: What little hidden gems should we know about?
Gurpareet Bains: I know it’s a restaurant, but it really is a hidden gem and as we all know, London is all about food: and when it comes to Indian food, the UK is India’s home-away-from-home. So, Sitaraay in Covent Garden is a perfect pick. The restaurant presents an unlimited all-you-can-eat Indian grill menu with the tastiest morsels of authentic fare normally reserved for traditional Indian banquets. I always get hyper-excited when visiting Sitaraay. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, Sitaraay even throw in entry to the Tamarai Bar and Nightclub as well as free car-parking.
TLL: What piece of advice would you give to a first time tourist?
Gurpareet Bains: Visiting the Tower of London to see the outrageous Crown Jewels is an absolute must and is my no.1 London tourist attraction. But most importantly, don’t forget to meander away from the tourist haunts to discover the real London bustling just a few blocks away.
TLL: What would you change?
Gurpareet Bains: The extortionate living costs and the wet and cold weather!
TLL: Favourite memory or story about London?
Gurpareet Bains: I guess the nursery rhyme “London Bridge is Falling Down” is forever etched in my mind’s eye along with many other stories and historical events such as Jack the Ripper and the Black Plague. London is a virtual history book waiting to be discovered, and no doubt this is one of the many reasons why tourists visit our town!
TLL: Finally: How do you choose to get around town… Tube, Taxi, Foot or Bike?
Gurpareet Bains: Normally by foot and tube. When in London I leave the bike at the gym.
Huge thanks to Gupareet to sharing his favourite places with us – I love hearing fresh recommendations and finding new places to explore.
If you want to learn more about Gurpareet’s recipe’s, his new book, Indian Superspices is available on 28th May for just £12.99. An absolute must for all foodies!