How I Got Here: Ranjit Mathrani

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

MW-Eat chairman Ranjit Mathrani on what makes a good leader and how to deal with unpredictability in business

Related tags Ranjit Mathrani Chutney Mary Indian cuisine London Masala Zone MW-Eat Casual dining Fine dining R200 Multi-site

The chairman of Indian restaurant group MW-Eat, who was recognised at this year's R200 Awards, on what makes a good leader and how to deal with unpredictability in business.

Describe yourself in one word

What is the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?
The unpredictable will always happen – move rapidly when it does.

Tell us your biggest strength
Being resilient - mentally, emotionally and physically.

What has been your biggest mistake?
The original location of Chutney Mary [in Fulham]. It was hugely successful during its 25 lease there, but with a great deal of effort!

What makes a good leader?
Vision, integrity and humility.

Who has had the biggest influence on your approach to business?
My approach to business has been developed from first principles without reliance on any single influence.

How do you stay motivated?
I am self-motivated to do better at all times.

How often do you check your email?
Four times a day.

How do you relax?
Savouring new experiences – talking, walking, eating, drinking, hearing, seeing, and exploring.

What was your dream job growing up?
Fighter pilot.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given?
The best is the enemy of the good.

What would you call your autobiography?
Never a dull moment.

Tell us something you think about the restaurant sector that almost nobody agrees with you on
Utilising supply and demand pricing on all menu items and across all meal periods.

Do you have any business regrets?
Not moving Chutney Mary to the West End 15 years earlier.


Born in Bombay, studied physics at Delhi University, before coming to the UK to study mechanical sciences at Cambridge. He later earned a diploma in management sciences at Manchester University, and an MSc in economics at London University. Mathrani's professional career is as extensive as his academic one. He spent 15 years working as a senior civil servant in various economic ministries for the British Government, and later went into investment banking, initially as executive director at Lazard Brothers and later as managing director of West Merchant Bank. In 1990, Mathrani joined forces with sisters Camellia Panjabi and Namita Panjabi to launch Indian restaurant group MW-Eat​, whose flagship restaurant, Chutney Mary, was the first restaurant in London - and quite possibly the world - to make the argument that Indian food could be elevated and served in a manner that was both upmarket and creative. The group's portfolio has subsequently gone on to include singular high-end restaurants Amaya and Veeraswamy, as well as the more informal Masala Zone brand. MW-Eat's influence led Mathrani and the Panjabi sisters to be named People of the Year for their innovation in the Indian restaurant sector at last month's annual R200 Awards​.

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