Sayan Bhattacharyya is a graduate of the Kolkata Hotel Management Institute and started his career in the kitchen training to be a Chef. After apprenticing in India in various hotels he moved to a Cruise line before settling down in USA. After being at the helm of the kitchen of a local restaurant, he joined Passage to India for a more challenging assignment as Chef/Manager looking after the restaurant operations in addition to experimenting and innovating the menu constantly to bring the best of the Indian cuisine.
Mahipa S. Negi
Chef Mahipal S. Negi apprenticed with the premier hotel in Mumbai, the Taj Mahal hotel, flagship of a luxury chain. Moving to US in late 80’s, Chef Negi worked in Indian restaurants in Manhattan, New York and Dallas, before settling down in Washington DC. He has been to the James Beard Awards for excellence in food in 1998, has served former President Clinton and the first family on numerous occasions, has cooked for Mr. Nelson Mandela and the former Indian Premier Mr. Vajpayee. Chef Negi joined Passage to India to achieve a position giving him more individualistic freedom to create and is now the Chef De Cuisine responsible for the cooking of the delicacies of different regions of India and assisting Chef-Owner Seth.
Born in New Delhi, India Owner-Chef Sudhir Seth had an early start for the career that he eventually would pursue. Fine tuning his taste buds from childhood with his Mother’s diverse cooking of different regional cuisines with the use of traditional ingredients; Sudhir developed an affinity to adhere to authenticity over fusion, which would later be reflected in his classical cooking of Indian specialties.
Giving up a career in the medical sciences Chef Sudhir graduated from the Hotel Management Institute, New Delhi at the young age of 18 and joined the prestigious Taj group of hotels in India as a Trainee Chef. Going through a rigorous 18 months of training under Chef George Hamilton, formerly the Chef at the Buckingham Palace, he successfully passed with credits and was then trained in all the 9 specialty restaurants at the Taj. Sudhir then assisted Chef Paul Bocuse in the first foray of French Nouvelle cuisine in India at the premier French Rendezvous restaurant.
In his first stint abroad he commissioned the Aashiaana restaurant at the Dubai Sheraton hotel which was rated the first fine dining Indian restaurant in the Middle East. Sudhir then joined the Welcomgroup Sheraton chain in India and had occasion to work in all the Southern states of India learning the diversity and span of that regions cuisines. While stationed in Hyderabad he catered to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on her India tour. His skills being recognized, he was sent to assist the Sheraton group in the opening of the Hua Ting Sheraton a 1300 room hotel, in Shanghai in 1986.
His next assignment brought him to USA where Chef Sudhir opened and operated the famous Bukhara restaurants in Chicago and New York. His name eventually reached DC and he was hired by the elegant Bombay Club in downtown Washington where he had the chance to cater to a multitude of celebrities and on several occasions to President Clinton and the first family.
In 1999 Chef Sudhir decided to branch out and opened his own place in DC. His Heritage India won critical acclaim right away and soon became the place for Indian food, highly regarded by Phyllis Richman, the Washington Post food critic.
Not satisfied with the total selection and range of Indian food available in USA, Chef Sudhir decided to give up all this and opened Passage to India, showcasing the immense and diverse cuisine of different regions of India. The restaurant menu features dishes never before presented to the public. Passage to India also features a huge selection of Vegan dishes.Winning three stars from the Washingtonian in its very first year was a sign of recognition from guests and peers alike. The acceptance and positive feedback of this menu presentation is overwhelmingly encouraging as per Chef Sudhir.
In March 2009, Sudhir opened his next restaurant Spice Xing in the posh Rockville Town Square, an elegant and vibrant (both food and color) upscale casual family eating place. The menu features foreign influenced dishes of India.
Sudhir feels his success is owed to having an understanding wife who put up with his long hours away from home and remained by his side right through his own moments of self doubt. She switched careers from the catering industry to IT to be able to raise their only daughter, Srishti. Chef Sudhir is proud that Srishti after graduating from Duke University is now doing her PhD in clinical psychology and wants to pursue a career in helping Autistic children and teaching. She also shares her Dad’s love for cooking and eating.
Sudhir lives in Bowie MD and in his spare time enjoys reading, watching sports and one day hopes to study his favorite subject physics at a local university.
Ali is no longer working and has moved back to Iraq after a separation of 17 years from his family. It was a pleasure to have had so dedicated an employee who was key to the early success of the restaurant. The management is indebted to him for his services and has decided to keep his contributions alive on this page.
Ali, the Maitre D’Hotel is from Iraq and was at one time with the Republican guard and came to USA after staying in a detention camp in Saudi Arabia for 7 years. After entering the US he tried his hand at different jobs but finally found his niche with the restaurant industry and joined Chef Sudhir Seth in his earlier venture in Washington DC.
Born in the ancient city of Babylon and growing up in a family who owned restaurants, Ali is a dedicated service oriented person with the sole aim to please the guests. Ali has been with Passage to India since 2003 and has been the guests’ favorite server, wowing them with his extremely dedicated and attentive service.
The WASHINGTONIAN food critic Todd Kliman was so impressed with him in his few visits to the restaurant that he decided to write an article on him.