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Meet Accidental Chef Sudhir Nair

Chef Sudhir Nair became a chef by accident when he attended a job interview with a friend. But he has not looked back since. He is now the Executive Chef at Courtyard by Marriott and Fairfield by Marriott, Outer Ring Road. In conversation with Explocity, Chef Sudhir Nair talks about how to preserve the authenticity of a cuisine even though most of the ingredients used to make the cuisine are historically foreign. He strongly advocates organic farming.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up mostly in Mumbai. I also spent a few years of my teenage in Ahmedabad doing my Hotel Management.

What led you to becoming a chef? 

I am a chef by accident. I accompanied a friend appearing for admission in the Hotel management course and tried my luck. Luckily I got selected. One thing led to another and I developed an interest in baking and cooking. I started enjoying the rigors of the kitchen, hence continued in the same stream.

How long have you been a chef?

I have been a professional cook for almost 17 years now. For the first five years, I wouldn’t have called myself a cook. So, I have been a chef for almost 12 years now.

What do you enjoy more? Cooking or creating?

Is that a trick question? How can you cook and not create? Cooking is so much fun if you aren’t doing it just as a job or chore. More than anything else, I love to cook for my family and my kids. I surely put in some creativity in the cooking, either in technique or combination of ingredients.

Do you feel there is virtue in preserving the authenticity of cuisine? 

Yes, if someone can prove what is authentic cuisine. Dishes or cuisines that are called authentic today were probably progressive or foreign a few decades back. Tomatoes, potatoes, chilies, tapioca, cashewnuts, rajma, capsicum and many more vegetables and grains were introduced in India by foreigners. But today these are integral to Indian cuisine. What about the Biryanis, Kebabs and Rotis we are so proud of? They are a direct import from Persia and Afghanistan. So, what to preserve as authentic and what not to. I believe authenticity of a cuisine is solely based on the what grows in and around the region. Using the local seasonal ingredients to cook your dishes and using traditional techniques for cooking not only suits the health of the person but also nourishes the mind. So, if you ask me about preserving authenticity, I would advocate growing local grains and vegetables using organic methods. Using these seasonal ingredients to make wholesome meals which suits the palate of the native people, is what needs to be done. And it will change with time and tide.

What dish do you like eating the most? 

My mother’s sambhar-rice along with my father's Injipuli and pappadam.

What’s your least favourite dish? 

Eggplant in any form.

How long have you lived in Bangalore?

This is my second stint in Bangalore. The first one was for two years and this time it has just been a few months.  

Do you like it here?

Yes, I do. The place has its own charm. It’s peaceful and polite compared to the places I have lived in before.