Executive Pastry Chef, Devi
Surbhi Sahni’s expertise and innovative nature brings a unique perspective to modern Indian Cuisine. Her creations are inspired by her childhood meals, her knowledge of Eastern and Western styles, and her experience in New York’s award-winning restaurants for the past 10 years. Surbhi constantly reinvents traditional flavors by incorporating unusual ingredients such as curry leaf and cilantro. Her creations are expertly planned: maintaining the integrity of the ingredients she showcases and ensuring each component has a sense of place and no one flavor outplays another. Masterfully combining textures, tastes, and colors influenced by a complex cultural background and a playful imagination, Chef Surbhi Sahni provides both the savory and sweet finale to the multi-dimensional culinary journey that is Bittersweet.
Her unusual creations intertwine the east and west in her concepts of food. These include Pistachio Cardamom Cake, Lemon Cream Tasting, and Indian Christmas Cake- fruit cake flavored with Indian rum. She has won acclaim for her Emperor’s Morsel (Shahi Tukra) – a crispy Indian bread pudding with cardamom cream and candied almonds; Chai Panna Cotta, with besan cookie and spicy potato chips; and the ethereal Mango Cheesecake, served with a rosewater-almond cookie crust, mango pate de fruit, and mango.
Since September 2004, Sahni has worked at Devi with Co-Executive Chefs Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur who have won critical acclaim for recreating authentic Indian flavors served in a sumptuous setting from The New York Times, New York Magazine, New York Daily News and New York Observer. Dévi was also awarded a Michelin one-star rating for 2008 and 2007 – the only Michelin-star Indian restaurant in the country.
Sahni’s innovative repertoire also includes consulting for the newly opened Aamchi Pao in the West Village in New York City. Under her direction, the restaurant introduced the concept of Bombay street food for the first time in New York City. The Village Voice called it “the harbinger of things to come”, and Time Out New York called it “an upmarket spin on Bombay street style food”
Her wonderfully rich Fig Cake was most recently in O, The Oprah Magazine and she has been featured by other media, including: The New York Times, New York Daily News, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, Food Arts, Pastry Art & Design, Audrey Magazine, India Abroad, ImaginAsiaTV “Pulse” and New Asian Cuisine. She also served as a contributing food writer for India Post.
Sahni has led a multitude of demonstrations at culinary schools and food shows. Most recently, Surbhi was selected to represent the Indian Food Board at the annual Fancy Food Show in NYC with a presentation focus on spices, mangoes and rice. She has taught classes at New York University, the Institute of Culinary Education, Williams Sonoma at the Time Warner Center, and Degustibus at Macys. She has been a featured guest chef at the World of Flavors Conference at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park as well as at the Baking and Pastry Arts Retreat at Greystone. She has also represented Devi restaurant at the James Beard House.
A native of New Delhi, Sahni has cooked since she was seven years old, preparing three square meals a day for her family. Her father, an acclaimed artist, was her first guru, instilling in her the importance and power of creativity. Using food as her medium, Sahni has continued the legacy by creating edible art.
Sahni completed her Bachelor’s Degree in Hotel Management from the School of Hotel Administration in India and her masters in Food Studies and Food Management from New York University. She has worked in various high end Hotels in India. In New York her culinary journey has taken her to catering companies like Table Tales and Between the Bread and high-end restaurants like Picholine and David Burke and Donnatella. At Between the Bread, she met her pastry guru, Richard Poselett, former executive pastry chef at the Hilton Hotel in New York.
She made her mark on New York’s culinary map when she served as Executive Pastry Chef at the highly acclaimed Tamarind in 2001. Working with the late chef Raji Jallepalli, she developed the concept and menu for the restaurant’s Tea Room, while pursuing her Master’s in Food Studies at New York University. This was the beginning of the string of award-winning restaurants that exhibited Sahni’s creations.
In 2003, she was the Executive Pastry Chef at Manhattan’s Amma. Collaborating with chefs Saran and Mathur, she designed the Asian fusion desserts at Amma that helped to garner opening accolades.
Sahni is proud to be working at Dévi alongside her husband, Chef Hemant Mathur. They live in Jackson Heights, Queens with their daughter, Soumyaa.