Jessi Singh was born in a humble village in India, and spent his formative years living the original farm-to-table experience. As Jessi describes it,
“While growing up, everything we ate was made fresh. You have to remember, most of us were without electricity. You milked the buffalo, drank its fresh milk, made the yogurt, you churned the butter. Bread was made not just fresh daily but fresh for every meal. It’s our way of eating.”
Despite his country’s customs, where women traditionally take on the cooking roles, Jessi spent much of his childhood in the kitchen mastering the classic dishes his family enjoyed. Although he continued to cook at home throughout his adolescent life, the desire to cook for diners stayed seeded until meeting Jennifer, his future wife and business partner in 2004. The couple settled in Melbourne, Australia and opened up Dhaba at the Mill in Kyneton, Horn Please & Babu Ji Melbourne.
They moved to the USA in 2014 and opened Babu Ji NYC in the East Village where they received immediate acclaim, becoming one of the year’s most talked about restaurants. It was named on nearly every end of year list as Best Restaurant of the Year by top NY and national newspapers, magazines & online publications. Earlier this year, with another exciting move, Jessi partnered with famed sommelier Rajat Parr to open Bibi Ji — a wine bar, restaurant and bottle shop in Santa Barbara, California. Similar to Babu Ji NYC, Bibi Ji was also positively received, garnering praise as best wine shop, top wine list and best new restaurant in Santa Barbara by multiple news & online publications. Jessi and his partners have taken the beloved concept of fun and accessible Indian cuisine on a global adventure, changing and influencing the dining landscape in each world renowned food city they have landed.
The journey has now come full circle, returning for good to the country where it all started and ultimately, to where Jessi considers home. Back on Australia soil, Jessi is set to bring his “unauthentic Indian cuisine” to Surry Hills in October this year, launching Don’t Tell Aunty, a fun and playful drinking den and restaurant. International sommelier, Rajat Parr will be joining him from the USA to develop the restaurant’s wine list and gin and mezcal cocktail list (to go with the famed self-service beer fridge) while the kitchen will be serving up Singh’s unique spin on Indian food with signature dishes such as his Uni Biryani, Naan Pizza and Mussels with curry broth.