Sutton's Spiceman, a Former Embassy Chef
By Manfried Helmuth
In Sutton, Paul Dass is known as "The Spiceman". This is also the name of this chef''s restaurant at the corner of Western and Principale streets. Born in Burma, Paul was raised in New Delhi and considers himself of Indian origin but he has been a Canadian citizen for more than 25 years.As a cook, he was home trained; "My father, mother, grandmother and sister were or are still all chefs, this is a family trade". His parents must have taught him well because the now 63 year old spent years as chef at the American, Canadian and German embassies in New Delhi."When a new ambassador comes, they often bring their own chef or hire someone new. That is when I went to the next embassy, the job offers were always there", he explains.
Why Canada?"The Groupe Lavallin hired him to come to Montreal as chef of their company guest houses and he liked it so much, he is still here.The Sutton establishment which he operates all by himself, just had it's tenth' anniversary. The place is licensed to sell beer and wine and seats up to 20 people in a friendly intimate room. In season there is a spacious terrace.
The menu is traditional Indian and very inexpensive. A spicy Madras chicken is $ 10.95 as is the Butter chicken. Good beef or shrimp curries are $ 11.95 and $ 13.95 respectively but the vegetable Samosa is only $ 2.- and the beef variety $ 3.-. The array of vegetables ranges from Vegetable Korma ($ 5.95) to Sag Panir, an excellent dish of spinach and homemade cheese to spicy okra and basmati rice.
Paul only opens from Wednesday to Sunday and closes at 9pm unless he has a reserved party which is popular for birthday events and family get togethers. He even encourages people to decorate the place to their liking for such occasions. There is no extra charge for reserved parties, the same everyday prices apply. The reduced hours of operation are the result of a quadruple bypass operation a year ago. "I had to scale back a little bit" explains the chef. However it is known locally that he painted a barn two weeks after being released from hospital. This is his sideline, he paints houses in his time off and seems to be doing a good job as evidenced by the backlog of work he has.
Dass is divorced and his ex wife lives in India. His oldest son is in New Delhi as well and the proud papa gloats over pictures of his son who works at the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi. In one picture young Dennis Dass is shown with Paul Martin, in another with Stephen Harper. The apple obviously has not fallen far from the tree. His daughter lives in California, she got married two months ago and a very pleased papa just learned that she is pregnant with her first child. This will be probably be another family member to train for the embassy trade at some time in the future.
The near future for the Spiceman? "I am getting new tables for the terrasse and we will have outdoor barbecued dishes coming as soon as it is warm to sit outside". Meanwhile, this Saturday, March 5, at 11:30 am people are starting to come in and a local woman is discussing her daughter's birthday party tonight. She has brought her own cake which Paul carefully puts in the pastry refrigerator. Happy birthday to the young lady and happy anniversary for the Spiceman.