Pollen 185’s vegan star chef to take on New York

Pollen 185 owner and in demand vegan innovator Jyoti Bindu has revealed a planned US move to take up a position in New York.

Announced via the restaurant’s social media, the move follows a banner 12 months for the in-demand chef with a high profile slot at Tasting Australia and stints working in acclaimed Copenhagen restaurants Amass and Relae now opening doors stateside.

“It taught me heaps in letting me believe in what I was already doing over here,” she tells The Adelaide Review of her time in two of Denmark’s Michelin Star kitchens. “That was the biggest thing that I learnt, keep the flavours simple and let the produce shine for themselves, and don’t overdo things.”

Working in hospitality for two decades, Bindu’s simple desire to open her own café has seen her become a leading figure in a shift among Adelaide’s fine dining set to embrace sustainability and plant based cooking. Guidance from high profile chefs including Sarah Turner, Duncan Welgemoed and Jock Zonfrillo gave Bindu an appetite for more in-kitchen experiences, of which the US relocation is a logical next step.

Jyoti Bindu prepares roasted aubergine and cashew 'cheese' dumplings in a Rare Treats guest column
Bindu prepares roasted aubergine and cashew ‘cheese’ dumplings in a Rare Treats guest column

“I taught myself how to cook four years ago,” she says of opening Pollen 185. “For me it was just a dream to come to Adelaide, hang out with family a bit and feel like I was contributing something positive to society.”

“What I found working at Africola and Copenhagen was it just taught me that I adored being in that group atmosphere and pushing the envelope,” she says. “I love doing the long hours, but it’s much easier with a team behind me. I’ve never worked so hard in my life, I nearly threw in the towel this time last year but dug even deeper,” she says of a briefly mooted plan to sell up as other commitments mounted. “And thank god! It’s been the most incredible year.”

The exact timeframe – and identity of her new workplace – is still a closely held secret until visa arrangements are finalised, but it’s clear Bindu’s holistic approach to cooking and produce is taking root outside Adelaide. “I want to get over there before winter’s finished so I can start my relationships with all the farmers and markets and really get those nutted in before spring starts.

“It’s all about no waste,” she says of her mystery destination. “The bartenders they get all the scraps from the kitchen and make ferments, kimchis or whatever and make these crazy cocktails. So I’ve been working really closely with the bar and we’ll be going to the markets to source all our ingredients, and really turn it on its head.”

Pollen 185 will continue to run up to, and after, her departure, with Bindu currently undertaking a search for a new chef to start immediately. “I feel like my chapter’s not finished,” she says. “I want to have something to come back to.”

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Photography: Sia Duff

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