Just before COVID hit the world, our friends Laila and Harvey introduced us to what immediately turned into our favorite Modern Indian restaurant in the Midwest; and this place is called ROOH and it is currently operated by Chef Yash Kishinchand.
Chef Yash is one of the most creative Pastry Chefs in Columbus and even when he is probably the youngest too; his motivation and talent is one we all need to look up to.
This article is the second delivery of my “4 Chefs to look out for in Columbus Ohio this 2023” blog series, an effort to spotlight my favorite Chefs in town.
I hope you enjoy.
What’s your name and where are you from?
My name is Yash Kishinchand. I was born and raised in Dayton, but I grew up in Columbus, Ohio.
Do you remember the exact moment you decided to become a Pastry Chef?
A little bit, yes. Growing up, I had acid reflux and some other health issues to where I couldn't really do sports like other kids would. At the same time, my mom had this rich food background; I remember Emerald Lagasse was like our household idol and mom would always have the Food Network on in TV. I would just always follow my mom in the kitchen and just kind of learn from her in an effort to learn how to make foods that were good for me.
Cooking -savory food- was my mom’s main thing, she would make dinner for us every single night, always making every meal a family oriented moment for everyone. However, it was never baking focused. And that's where I kind of found my niche, I loved the baking aspect of cooking because now we could share responsibilities; she'd do the cooking, I'd do the baking.
Yash mentioned his health is better now.
It is important to note that Yash is a Savory AND Pastry Chef who is now also designing the cocktail menu at Rooh. I had the opportunity to try a few of his creations, you need to make a reservation. That is all I am going to say.
Having all these talents ranging from savory, pastry and now spirits. What is that dish that you love to prepare and, one that you don’t enjoy as much?
My least favorite things are… wedding cakes. I'm really about flavors and textures and presentation; I feel like a lot of cakes are a lot more focused on the look rather than taste. Now, my favorite foods to prepare are dishes where you have five or six different components on the plate, all different textures, temperatures, colors, and flavors that all merge into create one balanced dish. Without question, restaurant style desserts have always been my favorite.
One of the things I also enjoy and drives my passion is to throw my French culinary influences with my American ones and my Indian background altogether to make a harmonious dish.
Ok, now I MUST ask. Have you done a wedding cake before?
I had in school, we had to learn wedding cakes as part of the curriculum. I remember my team and I made this huge cake for a charity event which was canceled two days before it happened. It was a twelve foot tall wedding cake that was just sitting in a corner of the building for maybe three months.
What is your signature dish and what do you love about it? Do you have a favorite ingredient to work with?
Not necessarily [have a signature dish]. I would say one of my characteristics is that I like to put stuff that you don't normally see in a dessert. You can go to 15 restaurants down the street and have something chocolate based, which can be tasty but probably not fun for me. I love when you can find a vegetable or an herb as part of a dessert. One of my favorite things I've ever made was this red bell pepper orange sorbet, which is bright and fresh and was garnished with micro cilantro. I like to do stuff that you just can't go to any restaurant and get.
If you could say you only had one source of inspiration to cook or create new dishes and menus, what would that inspiration be?
It is interesting because I see my answer a couple of years ago versus now and It's very different. Now it's my culture. Like I said before, I was kind of embarrassed about my culture, growing up in a fully American high school and just having to fit into that crowd versus getting to get to showcase what I know and what I get to do here.
I remember I took my old bar manager to the Indian grocery store for the first time, and we were there for maybe 3 hours. I was just walking through every aisle, explaining every single little ingredient, every snack, every cookie, every this. My culture is really important to me.
When it comes to comfort food… Any favorites? Cravings?
I'm vegetarian now. I've been vegetarian for approximately twelve years but before I was all about mac & cheese and chicken wings. Those were my favorite foods growing up. I mean, I still love cheese, it is one of my favorite things of ALL TIME. When it comes to comforting, I like hearty and rich. Like paneer is one of my favorite dishes but now I'm a little more mindful of what I'm eating protein wise and what I can get intake wise.
What is the ONE piece of advice you can give a home cook?
Use a scale. A scale is my favorite tool of all time. Just like a little kitchen scale, nothing more.
Now, if you could only eat one dish for the rest of your life, what would it be? Just one dish, not ingredients.
A true Dal Makhani. We don't have it on our menu right now because it took 48 hours to cook, and it was expensive to make just with the amount of butter and cream and for how much people were ordering it. But it's black lentils simmered in, a tomato creamy sauce, and it's one of my favorite dishes of all time.
I mean, I will for sure ask for this recipe and try it myself!
What is the biggest change you have seen in the food and restaurant industry in the past few years?
I would say just staff appreciation and understanding what's happening during service. I feel like a lot of times managers are just sitting in the closet and typing out their menus or doing emails and that type of work instead of showing their teams they are being cared for. Most of the times problems in the dining room happen and staff fix them right then and there and sometimes managers don’t acknowledge problems which translates into service that is not focused 100% on guests but I feel this is changing.
Yash mentioned that change is happening but more needs to change for service to improve in different aspects of the restaurant work life. Creating a balanced and healthy life culture is one of his goals as a General Manager.
And my last question is, what are you more excited about in 2023? Any specific things or projects that you are excited about?
Like I said, just the change in the industry. I want to be that change. I want to be the forefront of it. I'm just really excited to see what Rooh can do to change the local industry, because it starts with the small restaurants doing this change and hopefully get to the big places.