Chef Asif introducing fast-casual concept for Indian street food chain

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Celebrity Chef Asif Syed, owner and executive chef of 21 Spices in East Naples, is expanding his Indian cuisine with a fast-casual concept he plans to take nationwide. 

Deccani Bites by Chef Asif will serve Indian street food with fresh and unique handheld itemsThe concept will expand from a food truck to brick-and-mortar locations and high-end malls. “This will go beyond Naples. This will go beyond Florida. It will go all over,” he said. 

The restaurant name stems from the Deccan Plateau in southern India. The Deccani or Muglai cuisine is the regional cuisine of the royal state of Hyderabad, the chef’s hometown. 

Chef Asif, who has operated his 21 Spices fine-dining Indian restaurant for six years and previously was executive chef at the Hilton Marco Island Beach Resort for 14 years, is already known beyond Southwest Florida from his TV appearances on the Food Network. Serving as an ambassador for Indian cuisine with modern twiststhe chef has a clear vision of the food served at Deccani Bites.

“Our objective is to combine the casual food culture of a food truck with an elevated dining experience,” he said. “This means that our guests can enjoy unique Indian street food utilizing only the highest quality ingredients and cooking techniques.” 

The first brick-and-mortar location for Deccani Bites will start in the Naples area as early as next year, Syed said. “That will happen pretty soon. I don’t have a timeframe but, yes, we are on,” he said. Deccani Bites is targeted to debut this month as a food truck at Celebration Park, 2880 Becca Ave., in the Bayshore Arts District of East Naples.  

The mobile restaurant will serve easy-to-eat handheld items such as boti roti, which looks similar to a taco or pita sandwich. Boti is a marinated lamb kebab, while roti is a round flatbread native to India. In addition to handhelds such as naan flats and roti, the menu will offer a variety of appetizers, salads, desserts and beverages such as iced chai tea and mango lassi. 

The menu for Deccani Bites will not be the same as 21 Spices’ menu. “We don’t want to repeat anything, so everything is totally different than what you have at 21 Spices,” Syed said.

Inspiration for the street foods come from the chef’s childhood fascination with his native India cuisine and he created many of the fresh, modern handheld items for the hotel’s beach grill on Marco Island. “These are recipes I have created over the years,” he said.  

Syed wanted to take the concept to a national level, but then the pandemic delayed his plans. After research and development for the concept, he decided last year to embrace the creative challenge and launch his new concept with a food truck. 

“The first time I was really exposed to a food truck concept was when the Food Network invited me to participate at The Great Food Truck Race” TV show,” he said. “Unfortunately, I was not able to participate due to my work. However, I realized that our culinary landscape has gone through a little revolution, where people appreciate more and more casual eateries and food trucks. We see in all major cities throughout the U.S. food truck parks open and being appreciated by the community as not only gathering spots but also places to indulge in tasty foodie experiences. Food trucks are not just a spot at construction sites or outdoor events anymore, but an urban movement of creative chefs who appreciate the flexibility a food truck can give them. 

Look for his bright truck emblazoned with magenta, cyan and gold soon at Celebration Park. “I love colors,” Syed said. “It will stand out and we definitely will attract people.” 

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