People of Asuwere - Sid Sahrawat

Renowned Chef Sid Sahrawat in his kitchen at home

Many will know that owning and operating a successful business is no walk in the park - try owning a restaurant. Mastering the craft alone takes years of grit and hard work, and then add a pandemic-sized curveball riddled with labour shortages and it only gets more challenging. Now imagine running not one or two, but three successful businesses of critical acclaim, all at the same time.

Sid Sahrawat has done just that.

At the coalface of 2 of Auckland’s most elevated dining experiences (alongside an exciting new venture), are restaurateurs Sid & Chand Sahrawat, who have firmly established themselves as forces to be reckoned with in the wake of Auckland’s growing restaurant scene.

We had a chat with Sid the Owner/Executive Chef of Cassia, Cassia at Home & Sid at The French Café, and NZ Masterchef Guest Judge (yep, he does all of those things), at his home to get an insight on how he juggles it all, making the Metro Top 50 roll call with all of his restaurants in the same year, and his recipe for success in business and in life.

Sid Sahrawat sitting on the couch, next to an image of the cookbook shelf in his kitchen

Has food been something you were interested in at a young age?

A bit of a cliché, my grandma was a great cook and made mean parathas (stuffed naans), I loved watching her, but I didn’t think I would become a chef. I just was not very academically inclined and when the option to leave school to join hospitality training came up, I jumped on it. Initially, I thought I would be front of house or admin but when I picked up the knife, I knew I belonged in the kitchen.

Sid Sahrawat Chef standing in front of his kitchen next to an image of some flowers on the countertop

We did a bit of research; you had all three restaurants under your ownership in Metro’s Top 50 in the same year. How does one reach such heights?

I always believe that you succeed through not only the passion you have but also the passion your team has for your vision. We (my wife Chand and I) have been lucky to have amazing people work with us, who share our goals for the restaurants and push to do better each day.

It takes a village to raise a child they say - it also takes a village to run a good restaurant, staff, suppliers, and customers who appreciate it and vote with their feet. We now own two restaurants (Cassia and Sid at The French Café) as we passed on our first-born restaurant Sidart to our head chef Lesley to make room for new projects.

Sid Sahrawat sitting on his couch in front of the fire wearing an Oxford Shirt and Black Jeans from Asuwere
Close up detail shot of Sid's Asuwere Seude mens leather low sneakers

The inside word is that you’ve been known to work 80 hours a week? What does that look like?

I try not to work 80-hour weeks anymore and have a way better work-life balance. Back in the day hospitality was known for its grueling hours but this is changing now, and we are conscious of this as employers and changing systems to achieve a better work-life balance for our staff.

When you own a business, it comes with responsibility, and sometimes when you are short-staffed you have to jump in and work more than your normal share to keep the business going, customers happy and staff employed…. there is no other choice.

Image of Sid's drink shelf at home, with bottles taking up the whole shelf

Cassia at Home is a step into the FMCG world, which we imagine has a slightly different set of challenges to the restaurant game. Tell us about that?

Cassia at Home was a “pivot” to establish Cassia as an essential service through the pandemic, create a revenue stream when there was no other and keep our staff employed.

Well - that was the idea that Chand my wife and I came up with. We realised very quickly that we had bitten off more than we could chew, as the popularity of the sauce range overtook our ability to keep up production. We had to find a contract manufacturer and work with them to teach them the recipe and establish consistency.

We now are stocked in more than 35 retail stores across the country and have a good volume of B2C sales online. We are also growing the line this year with new products, it’s all about bringing the Cassia experience to the customer’s home but making it easy and foolproof. So, with our curry sauces, you just cook your protein and add the sauce, warm up and dinner is ready in 10 minutes.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve learned across the span of your career?

Stay focused and remain true to what you do, trends come and go but you need to find what makes you happy and do that to the best of your ability. 

2 minute maggie noodles masala style sitting on the pantry counter

What are your favourite cheap eats in NZ?

Canton Café in Kingsland for Peking duck and prawns with the whanau. New Flavour in Dominion Road for after-work dumplings with the staff, Paradise in Sandringham on a day off when we can’t be bothered cooking and want some Indian curry.

Sid working from home at the kitchen bench wearing a warm woollen shacket next to an image of Sid reaching into the fridge with his dog at his feet

What is the appeal of Asuwere to your lifestyle?

I love the understated elegance of Asuwere clothes and the clean lines, I used to shop when on holiday overseas but realised that with the border closures I had no time or opportunity to shop. I love to support local and Asuwere ticks that box for me, the membership aspect makes it super convenient.

Sid stands outside in the rain wearing the smart rain black shell, next to an image on the left of sid standing in the rain facing off the deck

Shop Sid's pieces 

Navy suede leather Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather sneakers heel detail with embossed Asuwere logo
Navy suede leather low Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather low Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather Asuwere sneaker on model
Navy suede leather Asuwere sneaker on model
Model sitting down wearing Asuwere navy suede leather low sneakers with shorts and striped shirt
Model sitting down wearing full Asuwere outfit including navy woollen shacket and navy suede leather shoes
Model sitting down wearing full Asuwere outfit including light blue denim jeans and navy suede leather shoes
Navy suede leather Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather sneakers heel detail with embossed Asuwere logo
Navy suede leather low Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather low Asuwere sneakers
Navy suede leather Asuwere sneaker on model
Navy suede leather Asuwere sneaker on model
Model sitting down wearing Asuwere navy suede leather low sneakers with shorts and striped shirt
Model sitting down wearing full Asuwere outfit including navy woollen shacket and navy suede leather shoes
Model sitting down wearing full Asuwere outfit including light blue denim jeans and navy suede leather shoes
Front of Asuwere navy woollen topcoat
Model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Close up model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Detailed shot of buttons on Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy
Model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie
Full model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Back of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy
Front of Asuwere navy woollen topcoat
Model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Close up model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Detailed shot of buttons on Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy
Model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie
Full model shot of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy with navy hoodie and orange beanie
Back of Asuwere Woollen Topcoat in Navy
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Smart Rain Shell - Black
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Heavy Woollen Overshirt - Charcoal
Top view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Side view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Inside view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Back view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers with embossed logo
Close up shot of Asuwere embossed logo on suede leather sneakers
Model shot of black Asuwere suede leather sneakers
Close up shot of Asuwere leather sneakers in black
Model wearing full Asuwere outfit with charcoal topcoat, black jeans and black suede leather sneakers
Model wearing black Asuwere suede leather sneakers
Suede Leather Low Sneaker - Black
Close up detail shot of Asuwere black leather sneakers with washed black jean
Top view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Side view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Inside view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers in navy
Back view of Asuwere suede leather sneakers with embossed logo
Close up shot of Asuwere embossed logo on suede leather sneakers
Model shot of black Asuwere suede leather sneakers
Close up shot of Asuwere leather sneakers in black
Model wearing full Asuwere outfit with charcoal topcoat, black jeans and black suede leather sneakers
Model wearing black Asuwere suede leather sneakers
Suede Leather Low Sneaker - Black
Close up detail shot of Asuwere black leather sneakers with washed black jean
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
The Asuwere Jean - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Cotton Silk Crew - Navy
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Bound Pima Daily Tee - White
Oxford Shirt - Green
Oxford Shirt - Green
Oxford Shirt - Green
Oxford Shirt - Green
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black
The Asuwere Jean - Black