Budding entrepreneurs may find the cost of a restaurant buildout prohibitive. As a result, it’s becoming more common to start with a food truck and move to a brick-and-mortar location once their reputation is established.
That was the path for Digambar Sahu, known as Chef Di, who established his I Love Curry food truck in Celebration Park in 2018 and opened his first location two years later. “Operations are totally different,” he says. “When you go to an event or a brewery with a food truck, you know more or less how many customers will show up; with a restaurant, it’s unpredictable. The guest expectations are higher, and you need a much wider range of skills to succeed.”
Originally from Mumbai, Chef Di has brought many of his native dishes with him. A sentimental favorite is Mom’s Lamb Curry, which uses star anise, cinnamon, and cardamom to replicate Indian home cooking. He gives a nod to the traditional street food of Mumbai with vada pav, a combination of potatoes, herbs, and spices fried to resemble a hamburger patty.
Why is there suddenly so much high-quality Indian food in Naples? “People are more adventurous here, and they’re ready to try different cuisines,” says Chef Di. “Also, the population is changing. When I talk to new customers, I usually find out they’ve moved here from places such as New York or Chicago where cuisines are more diverse.”
Like many of his colleagues, he strives to create a better understanding of the true nature of Indian cooking. “Our food is about flavor, not heat,” he says. “Everything contains spices, but dishes aren’t hot unless the customer wants them to be.”