Who is Aakash Shah?: I am the owner and general manager of Eighty/Twenty Food.
Best recent dining experience: It’s hard to choose one, being a foodie myself, but I’d probably say Zaab in Braddon – I love their roast eggplant.
Favourite cuisine: As an Indian, it makes sense that Indian is my favourite cuisine. The street-style food is just too good to resist.
Most embarrassing pantry item: I really can’t say I have an embarrassing item hidden away. If I had to pick one, though, it would be those heart-shaped sugar cookies that you get from Costco. They rarely get touched!
What ingredient can I not live without: Considering I love spicy food, I can’t live without fresh green and red chillies. I always keep them around as I like my spicy food with a crunch.
Next big thing in the Canberra food scene: I think the next big thing for Canberra is the growing of businesses that are emerging everywhere. It’s always great to see people passionate about hospitality and wanting to bring new flavours to the capital.
Favourite place for dinner in the ACT: I would have to say Let’s Chaat, the Indian restaurant in Braddon. They’re my favourite because they’re 100 per cent vegetarian and serve authentic Indian food without any alterations.
My go-to coffee spot in Canberra: I would have to say Eighty/Twenty Food. We make amazing coffees!
A must-try on our menu: If you come into any of our Eighty/Twenty Food stores, you need to try our Nutritional Bowl! It’s a warm salad that has all the right ingredients you need to survive a busy morning. It’s got a grilled chicken option or seasoned scrambled tofu.
Biggest culinary influences: I would have to say my mother and my wife. My wife Rashmi has such a good understanding of ingredients that she can turn any simple dish into an amazing one.
Favourite cookbook: I love In Bibi’s Kitchen by Hawa Hasan and Julia Turshen. It’s a cookbook about a grandmother’s (Bibi’s) recipes from eight different countries around the world. It shows the diversity of cultures in terms of food and how different countries cook and use certain ingredients.
Who I admire in the Canberra food and wine scene: There are too many businesses and people that I look up to from Canberra, but I would have to say Kingsley Varr, the owner of Kingsley’s in Canberra, is definitely one of them.
I really admire the way he is still dominating the market after so long and I have personally learned a lot from him. Another person I admire is Scott Bush, who used to be my mentor at Domino’s back in the day.
What’s the special of the week at Eighty/Twenty ?: This week, we’re giving away free coffee to everyone who pledges to Donate Life at our café.
Death row meal: Considering I am Indian, I’d have to say Vada-Pav – it’s a simple dish made up of crisp, spicy potato ball fritters in a bun with a special chutney. It’s the best!
COVID-19 response: I think everyone has adapted to the changes pretty quickly and made the most out of the situation in Canberra. We’ve just got to see the positives out of every situation from now on.
My three cooking tips:
- Maintain balance of food ingredients.
- Always cook with love.
- Serve everything with a smile.
Eighty/Twenty Food is open seven days a week across all its locations. The Braddon, Barton and Greenway cafes are open from 6 am to 3 pm, and Belconnen and Kingston from 7 am to 3 pm. They are located in Braddon at 1/18 Lonsdale Street; Barton at 23 Brisbane Ave; Greenway at 191 Anketell Street; Belconnen at 25 Lathlain Street and Kingston at LG05/10 Parbery Street.