The Circle

IN CONVERSATION

Naina de Bois-Juzan, Restauranteur

Talks to us about the rules of eating, blue lobsters & her love of saris

Naina wearing a black & white Raw Mango sari

Q Where did you grow up?

A. I was born and brought up in Paris. My mother is Punjabi, my father is French. I moved to Delhi almost ten years ago, in 2006. I went to an Ashram for six months in Bihar, and after that experience, I decided to stay on and live on India.

Q What are your favourite restaurants, after Le Bristo?

A. I like the fish tacos at Coast Café. I really like the Korean restaurant, Gung the Palace. It’s a fun place. And La Bodega.

Q Surprising things you learnt while running a restaurant:

A. I have crazy stories of things that happened to me in the restaurant, people doing strange stuff. It’s off the record!

Q How and where did your relationship with food begin?

A. I’m half-French, so it started there. You get infused with the food and culture. And more than just eating, the art of how to eat. Which knife to use with what, which fork with what. When are you supposed to eat a salad? What glass to use? I love all the rules of eating. And in my family it was quite strict in a way – this is how I was brought up, in the old aristocratic French way. All our family trips centered around food. Everybody cooks. Everybody spends the time in the kitchen. So this is how I grew up.

Q Do you have favourite dishes that you like to make at home?

A. I am going to my house in Brittany this summer, and what is amazing about France is that you get amazing produce wherever you are. The blue lobsters – the best lobsters in the world – are from there. Oysters, crabs, fresh fish. You don’t have to do anything. The vegetables, the potatoes are so good. You don’t need anything on top of them – just lemon, salt, pepper.

Q Do you have a favourite summer cocktail?

A. I like spritz. It’s Campari and champagne with fresh oranges.

Q Is there a piece of clothing or jewelry that you love?

A. Flowers in my hair is my thing. As much as possible, I put flowers in my hair. And I carry a fan as well. So sort of a Spanish influence. My father was a fashion designer and art director in France, and my mother also worked in fashion, so I grew up in fashion, with collections, fashion week, shows, fabrics… I used to model when I was here, in college. I love looking at my mother’s clothes. She is my best advisor when it comes to clothes. She is Punjabi, but she has completely adopted the French culture.

Q Do you wear saris often? What kinds, and how do you style them?

A. Very often. I like wearing belts with my saris. I like wearing my saris short, so you can see a lot of the ankle. If I wasn’t running a French restaurant, I would wear only saris. It’s a piece of clothing that I feel so comfortable wearing. And women look so beautiful in saris.

Q What was your favourite among the things you tried today?

A. It was difficult for me to choose. I could have worn all of these saris. All of them were beautiful.