The day Ameet Malhotra was first in talks with the Northland’s Iron District to explore becoming one of their food vendors, Metallica also announced the release of their new album, 72 Seasons. It was a fateful occurrence for the Indian-born chef, who has seen the band forty-nine times. Once it became official that Malhotra would be bringing his Indian cuisine to the Northland space, he was assigned a sunshine-yellow shipping container, similar to the yellow that’s splashed across the metal band’s new album.
“They’ve been part of my life since 1992,” Malhotra says of the band. “I love their tenacity, I love their drive, I love their creativity, their passion and resilience. And I think from that, they inspire me.”
Born in Mumbai, Malhotra came to the U.S. to pursue a career in graphic design. His nearly two-decade stint as a graphic designer for Hallmark came to an abrupt end when the company laid off almost two hundred and fifty people at the beginning of 2020. The bombshell catapulted Ameet’s culinary career and propelled him to go full force with his private chef business, Elephant Wings, which was previously a side gig.
The chef’s zest for life is palpable whether he is humming to Bollywood tunes while garnishing bowls of creamy pea soup for his private dinners or holding up a sign at a Metallica concert trying to convince Lars Ulrich to toss one of his drumsticks his way (it worked). He has even passed his love of the metal band onto his son, Aadi, who will be working alongside him in the Elephant Wings container.
His cuisine pulls inspiration from around the world, making it truly one of a kind. His vendor space will continue using his private chef business’ namesake and will sling sandwiches like the Unholy Cow, filled with beef, coriander chutney and veggies, and his take on the traditional banh mi. Other menu items are familiar dishes infused with his Indian heritage like the tikka masala poutine. “People can get a great quick dive into Indian cuisine this way,” Malhotra says.
His path has been fueled by passion and heavy metal. As he hustles to open Elephant Wings this month and debut his food to the public, James Hetfield’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction speech has been his mantra: “…dream big and dare to fail. I dare you to do that because this is living proof that it.” is possible to make a dream come true.”
Coffee: I love Messenger Coffee on Grand. I love the vibe and the sunshine that comes in there, and that staircase. I actually have a photo of that staircase in my living room. I always get a latte there.
Brunch: I don’t have to think twice: Ragazza. Laura, the owner, is awesome. I always get the orecchiette with Italian sausage and kale and the meatball grande. Every time I tell myself I’m going to order something different, but nope, that’s what I get. With a limoncello sparkle cocktail.
Bar: Jim’s Alley Bar can take all my money. I like the atmosphere; I feel like I’m in a different city. The food and drinks are amazing. Most importantly, the owner and staff are super cool. The cheese quesadilla is so simple but it’s amazing. As for a drink, I’ve been ordering a PBR with a shot of Jameson.