Chef Benjamin Nanneti and Glory of India Roti Cuisine are giving Torontonians, domestic tourists, and globe trotters one more reason to visit Queen Street West. The taste and flavor of refined, healthy, authentic Indian cuisine with home cooked freshness is what keep guests returning to Glory of India Roti Cuisine. “A great Chef!” “He makes one of the best Biryani and Butter Chicken I have ever tasted”. This is how Louai Maleh, Executive Sous Chef at the Sheraton Toronto and his former supervisor describes Ben.
Ben specializes in Indian Cuisine, his special gift is to turn out ambrosial dishes with favours that lifts the spirit. To taste Ben’s divine cooking is to experience a burst of flavor and a jolt of pleasure that will likely reduce your vocabulary to mmm! Wow! Simply delicious! Awesome! Don’t be embarrassed by your loss of speech just blame it on Ben’s unique blends from the 12 spices of India and the subtle yet alluring flavors of charcoal and smoke from the clay oven. Whether he serves up South or North Indian cuisine, vegetarian or non-vegetarian dishes you will be treated to tasty and healthy food.
Born and raised in Calcutta, India, Ben developed a love for cooking and the kitchen at the age of 14 when he decided to watch his mother, Vyduryam Nanneti cook. Ben spent hours watching and absorbing the cooking process as Vyduryam prepared and served up mouthwatering dishes to the delight of family, friends and the people of Calcutta. Ben believes she got “A cooking blessing” ―the gift of flavours, which he inherited from her.
Being a Chef was not Ben’s first choice for a career. His father Israel was an Executive Officer at the British High Commission in India and Ben had his eyes on a career in the civil service, and for that he completed a Bachelor of Arts in History, Civics, and Public Administration. He was soon to discover that as a Christian with a Christian surname it was not going to be easy for him to get a job in a big company or the civil service.. Ben then decided to pursue a two year technical diploma in welding and fitting but he was still hoping for his dream job when his younger brother, John Christopher encouraged him to become a Chef.
John Christopher Nanneti is the Chef that Ben most admires and whom he describes as the real Chef and his inspiration. The gift of cooking seems to run in the family as John and his Swagat West Haven Restaurant was featured in the New York Times for serving up delicious South Indian and North Indian cuisine. Ben acted on John’s suggestion and got accepted into the Chef’s course at the Food Craft Institute in India just post his 23rd birthday and just before it was too late for him to be accepted into the course.
He began his career as a Chef at Taj Coromandel Hotel a Five Star Deluxe Hotel in Chennai India. In 1996 Ben joined Carnival Cruise Line as a Chef, a career move which brought Ben to North America and the beginning of what he believes is God’s plan for him to live in North America and for his children to be born in Canada.
In 1999 Ben left Carnival Cruise Line to join Taste of Tandoori, now Thali in Connecticut. Following which he immigrated to Canada in 2001, completed the Chef’s course at George Brown College and later served the Sheraton Hotel Toronto for nine years in advancing Chef Roles. Louai describes Ben as “Our go to person for Indian Food”, “He is a great gentleman, courteous, respectful, and a pleasant character”. “He always goes the extra mile”. “I wish him all the best for the future”.
What led you to establish your own Restaurant?
I had a good job as Chef at the Sheraton Hotel here in Toronto. I worked hard and received promotions. In 2012, I was invited to partner with a local restaurant as Chef and investor, they were opening a new location. That partnership did not work so in 2014, Guna, my wife and I opened Glory of India Roti Cuisine.
Why Queen Street West?
We were looking for a place in the University community Downtown, we did not find a place but found this location on Queen Street West. That is how Queen Street West became the birth place of Glory of India Roti Cuisine.
The Peacock Tail forms a part of your logo, tell us a little about its significance?
The Peacock is the national bird of India, everyone loves the Peacock so we decided to use the Peacock tail to represent India.
The bright orange what is the significance of that colour?
The orange is from the Flag of India and also represents the India in our Restaurant.
What do you burn to give to diners in Toronto that is currently hard to find?
Food that is rich in flavor and healthy. We want our customers to have a place where they feel comfortable to relax and enjoy their meal as they desire. Our Canadian guests often ask “How do you get the flavours”, “We do not get these flavours anywhere else in Toronto”, “Can you show me how to make it?” I watch some of our Indian and Tibetan customers eat their rice with the hands as it is done in India. When I asked them “Why do you use your hands when I have given you forks?” “They told me they felt comfortable and wanted to enjoy the authentic Indian flavours to the fullest as they do not find it elsewhere in Toronto”.
Besides your wife Guna and yourself you are currently served by 4 staff members. Do you have aspirations for growing the restaurant so that it will continue to add jobs to the Queen Street West and Toronto economy?
We want to grow a restaurant to create wealth and opportunities that we can share. I would love to train one of our kitchen assistant to be a great Indian Chef and to watch him manage and run another Glory of India Restaurant. Yes, we want to create more jobs, to earn and share wealth.
What were the greatest challenges that you faced in trying to set up your restaurant?
In the beginning it was very slow, we were not known and the customers were not coming. This location is a tough one and several other tenants have given up on it. The early days were tough times, getting dine-in status was also another tough problem but with the help of Anna Bartula of the Parkdale Village BIA we were able solve that problem. Now the customers are coming and things are much better. Guna has been a co-owner, wife, mother, friend, and partner to me through it all and I am very grateful to her.
What has been the greatest reward of owning your restaurant to date?
When I watch my guests leave empty plates and platters behind and they are happy and satisfied. It makes me very happy when they say “I will wait for the food here because I love your food”. It also makes me happy when they give compliments about the unique flavours that they experience here and when I see good sales. It is what makes me able to do this work seven days a week.
You have received favourable reviews on Facebook and Yelp what have your customers been saying about Glory of India Roti Cuisine?
“Delicious, flavourful, this is the real Indian Restaurant”. They are very happy with the flavours and the serving sizes. Many say our Butter Chicken is the best that they have had. We offer dishes in mild, spicy and hot so our customers are happy since they can choose the right level of spice to suit their taste. We also create customized dishes from our menu items based on individual request and they love that. They love the wraps and have mentioned us to other Indian Restaurants.
What advice would you give to newcomers who would like to start their own business?
It might be a little tough at first but you will succeed if you give great service and work hard.
What advice would you give to born and bred Canadians who would like to start their own food business?
Stick to your Canadian dishes and go for it. In the beginning it is hard but after a year or two of getting experience it will be better. You will have more job security and stable hours.
Glory of India will be celebrating its second anniversary towards the end of this year, what can foodies, diners and Toronto expect from Glory of India Roti Cuisine?
We will be giving our guests a chance to taste and enjoy an array of dishes on the house in addition to discounts on select menu items. Diners in general can expect to see a few new menu items including tandoori and kebaps. For the holiday season and in the coming year we look forward to catering to more events such as staff celebrations, Christmas, family, birthdays, weddings and other special occasions. We will serve some of the best paneers, korma, saag, vindaloo, jalfrizi, masala, tandoori, chettinadu, biryani, samosas, pakoras, dosas and our signature butter chicken that you will find in Toronto.
From what we’ve seen and heard it seems you have missed your trip to Toronto if you missed trying the delectable food served up by Ben and Glory of India. We join Louai in wishing Ben and Glory of India Roti Cuisine all the best for the future.
A sneak preview into the Magate Noësis Volumes I & II 2015
Contact Meegan Scott at: firstname.lastname@example.org
©2015 Magate Wildhorse
How to cite or reference this article: Meegan Scott, “Chef Benjamin (Ben) Nanneti,
Toronto’s King of Authentic Indian Cuisine” ,“The Noësis: MWildhorse Strategy and Learning Digest.”, November 11, 2015. Vol. I & II