Sunny Corda has been responsible for some of the city's finest Indian restaurants. His chefs at Saffron, Rasa, Southern Spice and Mynt – where Kartik Palapandi, above, mans the line – each offer their own unique takes on Desi cuisine, tinkering with everything from traditional Mughlai and South Indian fare to Indo-Chinese and contemporary Indian cuisine. That diversity has its merits but, for Corda, it also helps maintain a position of culinary supremacy in a ruthless market.
"There's a lot of competition in town and it's important that we stay leaders in the community," Corda says. "We want to be leading the pack and setting the standards, and I don't ever want to look dated in what we're doing."
No one would accuse Corda's restaurants of being dated – not with their modern interiors, plating and food renditions – and that's precisely the image Corda wants to project. "We're always looking to the future," he says, "and how we're going to be better than we were before is key."
That forward way of thinking has roots in the time Corda spent working for a couple of superstars in New York City back in 2008 and '09: Thomas Keller and acclaimed Indian chef Peter Beck. Corda served as chef de partie at Keller's Per Se as well as sous-chef at Beck's Tamarind, and the experience proved invaluable.
"Not only were both of them my mentors, but they were instructors and father figures. They taught me various cooking techniques for sure, but they also taught me about values and maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I've paid that forward and instill those same principles to my front of house staff and the cooks in the kitchen," Corda says. Flashes of Peter Beck-like brilliance can be seen at Corda's restaurants, and if anyone is going to fill the vacuum left when American Gymkhana – the most innovative and inventive Indian restaurant to ever grace Orlando – closed its doors in 2015, Corda is the man to do it.