Chef finds his mojo in Indian Italian fusion

May 18, 2017

Mojos owner and chef, Mandeep Singh.

Mojos owner and chef Mandeep Singh came to Australia 10 years ago from India as an 18-year-old with just $1500 in his pocket and a passion for cooking.He studied hospitality at TAFE in Melbourne and quickly developed a fondness for cooking Italian cuisine.

“I was an Indian living in Australia working as an Italian chef,” he said.

He worked in Melbourne restaurants such as Gattica and also did a stint cooking in a restaurant in Darwin called Fasta Pasta for seven or eight years before he decided to run his own business.

“I came from a conservative family; growing up my father would often say any food that wasn’t traditional Indian food was rubbish and I think that made me curious to try foods from other cultures,” 

Mr Singh said.“Food is about creation, you can only work in hospitality if you enjoy it.

“I love cooking Italian favourites — such as pasta, lasagne, quiches — and Indian.

“Every dish has been made somewhere before but you can make each dish your own,” he said. 

Mr Singh has been keeping customers happy at Mojos where he creates a fusion of different cuisines to keep things interesting at the cafe.

“As winter comes around, I’m looking at starting comfortable winter food, like curries,” he said.

“My Indian heritage does come out every now and then when adding spices, such as turmeric, which is a beautiful spice you can add to anything — you just have to be careful not to overdo it.

“Recipes are not final, if you feel you can change it by adding something for a new flavour, do it; the basic ingredients stay the same but if you serve the same dish every day people won’t come back.”

Mr Singh eventually decided he wanted to run his own restaurant and started searching in 2014.

“I looked everywhere in Victoria for my own place, I looked at places like Horsham and Bendigo before finding Shepparton,” he said.

“There were a number of reasons I chose Shepparton; there’s a great Punjabi community here, I had some friends here and my dad was not enjoying living in Melbourne.

“Coming from a village of 54 people to a city of millions was a big jump and the country is better,” he said.

Outside of cooking Mr Singh reads a news section on Punjabi Community Radio which is broadcast across Australia online.

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