Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian by Sat Bains – review

Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian by Sat Bains – review

It’s every inch a limited edition book. In fact there are a lot of inches, oozing quality, artistry, style and delicious food. Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian  by Sat Bains is a coffee-table book that is truly the size of a small coffee table, but will likely be more remarked upon than a four-legged piece of pine. This is the stuff of which cookbook heirlooms are made.

sat bains Too Many ChiefsSatwant Singh ‘Sat’ Bains is chef-proprietor of the two Michelin star ‘Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms’ in Nottingham. He won, as so many fine chefs have, the prestigious Roux Scholarship in 1999 and was also one of the winners on the BBC show Great British Menu in 2007.

Chef Sat Bains doesn’t come from a family of restaurateurs or food writers, although you could say that his early career was associated with the printed word: he had a paper round. But by the age of 21, he signed up for a course at Derby College. It wasn’t what Sat would describe as a serious career move, as he says he only picked the catering course because it had lots of girls on it.

Chef Sat has worked for the best restaurants all over Europe and the experience has served him well. He became head chef at the Hotel des Clos in Nottingham, which was rebranded and relaunched as Restaurant Sat Bains with Rooms in November 2002. It was awarded a Michelin star in 2003, and a second star was added to that culinary firmament in 2011.

sat bains Cutting-edge

This first edition of Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian is limited to 10,000 numbered copies. It arrives packaged in a printed mailing box which encourages a degree of anticipation before one even gets a glimpse of the book. The book isn’t actually the next design statement – there is a striking slipcase that protects the soft, black and embossed linen cover of this unique and sizable tome. Face Publications always manage to present something daring and cutting-edge.

The large pages are a showcase for stunning photography by John Arandhara-Blackwell. It’s food but it’s also Sat’s passion: he is a real person and a great character; he is easy to warm to and identify with. The recipes might be a little challenging but if you break them down into their constituent parts then you can cook remarkable food. It’s about practice and confidence. Sat presents seasonal produce with flair.

Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian offers the enticing opportunity of being able to order dishes featured in the book at Restaurant Sat Bains even when they’re not on the restaurant’s current menu. That might save you the trouble of investing in a Thermomix or a pint and a half of liquid nitrogen. You can actually taste the food that so marvellously decorates the pages of this book. I’ll be ordering Mutton, Onion Textures or perhaps Ham, Eggs, Peas …or both. And then there is pud: I would go for Buckthorn with a chaser of Peach, Thyme, Gingerbread. A few visits are in order, and if Michelin were not disappointed then I know I won’t be.

Unashamedly cheffy

I have been a cookbook reviewer for the past six years and I am always happy to suggest books to suit families, home bakers, those who want budget meals or a touch of the exotic from time to time. They will remain the cornerstone of my reviews but it’s refreshing periodically to have the joy of leafing through an exceptional book that won’t ever be propped up on the kitchen counter. Yes, it’s unashamedly cheffy and there is the odd gadget that you might not have in your domestic kitchen, and a few ingredients that aren’t available at the corner shop.

sat bains spread
Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian is about inspiration and innovation but it’s not a dry and technical masterwork. Sat has a great sense of humour and the contemporary format is engaging. It’s gift quality and noteworthy, and stands a chance of becoming a gastronomic collectable …I certainly won’t be giving my copy away. I might be getting a more substantial coffee table, though.

Too Many Chiefs Only One Indian
Author: Sat Bains
Published by: Face Publications
Dimensions: 360x270x40mm, boxed: 460x290x60mm
Price: £75.00
ISBN: 978-0955893025

Further information:
This book is only available through Face Publications and at Restaurant Sat Bains. For further information please contact Anthony Hodgson on +44 (0)113 203 7378 or


Cookbook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018