Critically-acclaimed chef Vishwesh Bhatt has been delighting the taste buds of restaurant-goers in Oxford, Mississippi for ten years with his venture under the City Grocery Restaurant Group umbrella, Snackbar. This upscale, French bistro marries the local southern cuisine with influences from Bhatt’s Indian roots. The result is a menu that receives two thumbs up from foodies everywhere. Corporate Essentials is pleased to offer signature recipes by Chef Bhatt this month as a part of our Featured Chef office catering program with Martin + Fitch.
Vishwesh Bhatt moved from Gujarat, India in 1985 with his family after spending some time in France. One thing he found consistent between his time in college and graduate school at Ole Miss was his distaste for dining hall food. Cooking became a huge part of Vishwesh’s life as an effort to save money and make food that he actually enjoyed eating.
In the early 1990’s, Bhatt spent a lot of time at City Grocery where he got to know John Currence, chef and owner of City Grocery Restaurant Group. As a patron he was able to see first-hand the passion that Currence had for his chosen profession and the story he was able to tell through his menu. He instantly knew he wanted to be a part of it. Vishwesh asked Currence to take a chance on him and it was here as a line cook that his professional culinary training began.
After realizing that he wanted to make cooking a lifelong career, Bhatt left the City Grocery Restaurant Group on a brief hiatus and attended culinary school for formal training. He spent time in Miami and Colorado for even more culinary exposure before returning to Oxford, MS and the City Grocery Restaurant Group in 2001 as the catering chef. Chef Bhatt continued to work his way up before Currence offered him the gig to open Snackbar in 2009.
Enjoyed for its cozy bar atmosphere and a menu based off of locally-sourced ingredients, Snackbar intertwines traditional Southern food and French influence with references to Bhatt’s Indian heritage. Vishwesh Bhatt refers to himself as a “Southern Chef” while successfully tying in spices like turmeric and garam masala to his dishes for a little extra zest.
In their 2017 edition of “The South’s 38 Essential Restaurants”, Eater described Snackbar as “a brasserie whose dishes meandered through France, the South, and Bhatt’s native India.” Exemplified by spice-crusted cobia in a coconut-turmeric broth, pork meatballs and black-eyed pea grits, or their excellent charcuterie selection, there is something on the Snackbar menu for everyone. Eater went on to exclaim that, “Bhatt has wandered even further in his cooking, to outstanding effect: He braises lamb shanks in fragrant Persian spices, and riffs on bibimbap using fried catfish and Mississippi brown rice grits.”
Awards & Achievements
Chef Vishwesh Bhatt has been recognized as one of Mississippi’s “no-so-hidden” gems, with Snackbar gracing almost every list of best Southern restaurants. In 2011, Bhatt’s unique approach and passion for cooking earned him a “People’s Best New Chef” nomination from Food & Wine.
This same passion has been recognized by the James Beard Foundation, where Chef Bhatt has been named a six-time finalist for Best Chef: South from 2014-2019.
At Corporate Essentials, we are honored and thrilled to have Vishwesh create dishes for our catering clients each week this month. His attention to detail and passion for locally-sourced ingredients match well with the values of our catering division, Martin + Fitch.
About Martin + Fitch Catering
Whether an office is looking to supply food for an occasional workplace party, a regular Friday happy hour or daily grab-and-go lunches, Martin + Fitch is able to deliver. With menus changing daily and inspired by the seasons, Martin + Fitch is able to provide delicious, better-for-you meal options for employees. In addition to office catering, Martin + Fitch will continue to act as a boutique catering and events company. From photo shoots and drop off catering, to large full-service events, Martin + Fitch can help you choose your venue, hire staff and design the space.