Growing up, Samyukta Nair says, she was surrounded by amazing women and was always made to feel like there was nothing she couldn’t achieve. And from 31 July until 25 September, Nair (above) is hoping to bring a bit of this ethos to her new Women’s Club evenings, in the basement bar of Mayfair’s Jamavar, the Indian restaurant she co-owns. With guests including author Florence Knight, Savile Row tailor Kathryn Sargent and artistic director of English National Ballet Tamara Rojo, the evenings promise to be inspiring and informative.
Nair is hoping the evenings will be an ‘antidote to the boys’ clubs’ of Mayfair, by bringing together women to share ideas and advice. ‘London [is] a city full of astounding strength and creativity and I think it’s important that we are unashamedly proud of that,’ says Nair. ‘By sharing stories of our failures, our successes and all the things which happen in between, we can build each other up and learn from each other.’ Men are allowed to attend, but only as the guest of a woman.
The first speaker of the series is Florence Knight, head chef at Polpetto, Sunday Times food columnist and author of One: A Cook and Her Cupboard. The second evening, on 14 August, will feature guest Kathryn Sargent. Former England cricketer Isa Guha, who led her team to victory in the 2009 World Cup will be speaking on 21 August and Farrow & Ball colour consultant, Joa Studholme will speak on 18 September. Closing the series will be Tamara Rojo, artistic director of the English National Ballet on 25 September. Nair says she can’t wait to get the evenings started and, because the best conversations happen around the dinner table, is including a three-course dinner, canapés, a welcome drink and a goody bag in the £45 ticket price.
Nair herself is an inspiring individual, having worked with her father Dinesh, to establish a number of Indian restaurants around the world as part of The Leela Palaces Hotels and Resorts. In their outposts across five major cities in India and London’s Mayfair, they serve recipes handed down by the family matriarch and namesake of the chain, Leela Nair. As well as hospitality, Samyukta Nair also runs her own sleepwear business, Dandelion, putting a portion of its profits into supporting educational initiatives in the workers’ home villages.
At Jamavar, Nair’s executive chef, Rohit Ghai, specialises in regional Indian dishes and has designed a special menu for the women’s club. Canapés of stone bass tikka and shami kebab, and paneer and aloo tikka will feature, served with a glass of bubbly. The eatery’s signature poppadum basket, with house-made chutneys will then be followed by hand-caught seared scallops on puffed rice with tamarind date chutney and old Delhi butter chicken, made with corn-fed chargrilled chicken, fresh tomato and fenugreek. Rhubarb chuski falooda with basil seeds, and rhubarb and saffron rabri kulfi will close the evening before guests head off into their Monday evenings; fed both by delicious fare and inspiring anecdotes.