A changing of the guard is about to take place at one of New Zealand’s most celebrated restaurants with Sid and Chand
Sahrawat selling their fine dining establishment, Sidart
with the changeover effective September, 2021.
Sidart’s new owner is chef Lesley Chandra, a long-time friend and trusted colleague of the Sahrawat’s who has worked for
the couple since 2014. The Sahrawat’s have vendor financed Lesley into the restaurant to help him realise his dream of
owning his own restaurant and will act as silent partners in the business, available to mentor Lesley when needed.
Chandra has been open about running his own restaurant one day. That day has now come to fruition with the genesis of an
idea first casually mooted years ago during a meal with the Sahrawats at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck in England.
Serious discussions took place earlier this year and the couple say they are happy to hand over the mantle to a valued
team member who has previously worked at Sidart and is passionate about carrying on the restaurant’s vision.
“Obviously, we feel quite nostalgic selling our first-born restaurant, but we’re absolutely delighted to hand the
restaurant over to someone we have so much respect for,” Chand Sahrawat says. “We know we can safely entrust Lesley to
continue the legacy of Sidart.
“When we first started Sidart we had an angel investor who believed in our vision and loaned us the money needed to
purchase the restaurant. Had it not been for him and his guidance we wouldn’t have succeeded as we have.
“For many years we’ve had a desire to pay the gesture forward and were waiting for the right person and the right time.
We know Sidart will be in wonderful hands and we can focus on other aspects of our business so it’s a win-win situation
Sid agrees Lesley is the right person for the venture.
“There is a difference between being a good chef and being a good business owner,” he says. “Lesley is calm and fair and
earns the respect of everybody he works with. This isn’t something you can teach – you have to have the X-factor, be
talented and innovative, and able to run a kitchen through tough times, like a pandemic, which Lesley has proven he can
Sid is well-known for introducing a progressive style of modern Indian cuisine to New Zealand and Lesley Chandra says he
has no intentions of changing that style of food at Sidart – although he will introduce more flavours of the South
Pacific into the menu over time.
Lesley says his Fijian Indian heritage combined with his time working at Cassia and Sidart has fuelled his passion for
“It has always been my dream to own my own restaurant and I am beyond excited and honoured to be the new custodian of
the Sidart brand which I have the utmost respect for,” Chandra says. “I worked at Sidart after a sabbatical in the UK,
so for me it’s like returning home.
“Sid and the Sidart team have created something very special, and I won’t be changing the style of cuisine,” he says.
“It’s evident Kiwis and international visitors alike have an appetite for Sidart’s progressive Indian creations, and I
will continue to work with the team to deliver the same passion, attention to detail, and flavours that Sidart diners
have come to expect.”
Established in Ponsonby’s Three Lamps Arcade in 2009, Sidart was the Sahrawat’s first restaurant, and it has enjoyed
many accolades over the years, including most recently, Cuisine Good Food Awards Supreme Restaurant of the Year in 2019.
One of just four establishments nationwide to be awarded 3 Hats by Cuisine, Sidart has also featured consistently in La
Liste’s Top 1000 Restaurants in the World.
Over the last seven years the Sahrawats have added Cassia
and the iconic Sid at The French Café
to their restaurant stable and have now decided to sell Sidart in order to concentrate further on their newly launched Cassia at Home
brand, the range of curry sauces and spices for home cooks. The couple launched the venture in November last year and
are focused on taking that side of their business to the next level.
In planning for the future, the Sid and Chand knew they wanted to pass the Sidart baton on to someone they could trust
to continue the restaurant’s proud legacy.
Lesley Chandra has worked for the couple since 2014 (with a one-year sabbatical in London), and is currently head chef
at Sid at The French Café, moving back to Sidart at the beginning of June. With a career spanning 18 years, Chandra
gained his diploma at Hotel Chef’s Training School and worked at Baduzzi under Ben Bayly’s mentorship before becoming
Head Chef at Cassia in 2014, assisting Sid create the restaurant’s eclectic modern Indian menu.
In 2016, a 12-month sabbatical saw Chandra working at the renowned Typing Room in East London. In 2017, chef Chandra
returned to the Sahrawat stable and to a research and development role created especially for him at Sidart. He led the
R at Sidart, launching the new Progressive Indian menu and then moved restaurants in September 2018 when the Sahrawat’s
acquired Sid at the French Café where Lesley assumed the role of Head Chef.
Sidart’s change of ownership will take effect from September 6, 2021, the final service with incumbent owners is on
Friday September 3. www.sidart.co.nz
.About Sidart (Est 2009):
Sidart restaurant in Three Lamps, Ponsonby, offers a unique Progressive Indian degustation menu designed to showcase
Indian cuisine in an elevated and precise tasting menu format that marries India’s cuisine, spices and flavours with the
very best of New Zealand produce.
Family owned and operated by multi-award-winning chef and owner Sid Sahrawat and his wife Chand, the couple lead a
talented team of more than 60 across the three restaurants in their stable; Sidart
, Cassia and Sid at the French Café.
Sidart is open for dinner Tuesday to Saturday and for lunch on Friday. Full info can be found at www.sidart.co.nz
2019 Cuisine Good Food Awards Restaurant of the Year (3 Hats)
2018 Metro Peugeot Restaurant of the Year Awards
Supreme Winner, Best Fine Dining Restaurant, Best Chef and Best Restaurateurs