The ‘accident’al chef- The New Indian Specific

Specific Information Service

HYDERABAD: Chef Chalapathi Rao is a model of his personal. From feeding VIPs to organising his personal enterprise, he positive has come a good distance. He shares how his love for meals satisfied the medical fanatic in him to modify paths. Excerpts:

Did you develop up eager to be a chef? 
In no way, I needed to be a physician! However my love for meals grew at completely different levels. You can say it was ‘unintentional’. Once I was round 10 years previous, my mom met with an accident and was bed-ridden for a couple of months. My father, siblings and I took care of the family work and that’s after I realised I liked cooking. Years later, I visited my uncle over the summer time, his buddy was a chef and I learnt it’s a actual career folks contemplate. Even after that, I wasn’t positive. I gave a nationwide entrance examination to get into an expert institute in Chennai, and went for the interview in casuals. That’s often not the way you see resort administration college students — they’re all effectively dressed. Regardless of all of it, I acquired by, I joined my class 15 days later. However as soon as I acquired to school, I loved cooking a lot, I by no means turned again. 

Take us by your journey to organising your individual restaurant. 
After school, I acquired first rate work. In my profession spanning greater than 25 years now, I travelled with ITC for over 20 years, had been a custodian in addition to Grasp Chef of the Dakshin model — whereas employed with them. The choice to maneuver out and begin one thing of my very own was purely private. My mates and I needed to begin one thing of our personal in Hyderabad and that’s how Merely South got here to be in 2014. 

How did you conceptualise Merely South? 
When my mates and I performed a survey, with all due respect to inns claiming to be South Indian, we discovered that solely the primary two pages of their menu had genuine dishes from the South — the pages after which are Chinese language, Mughlai and different cuisines. I don’t blame them, it’s a restaurant’s option to cater to completely different folks and so they should do what they should. Since South Indian delicacies was my forte, it wasn’t a tough determination to begin Merely South. We have now South Indian staples from all of the 5 States — Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala. We don’t even use paneer in our dishes, that’s how strict we’re about curating an genuine South Indian menu. 

What are a few of the most memorable moments in your profession? 
There have been very candy moments. I used to be capable of cater to VIPs — from the late Prince Philip to numerous heads of States and Indian premiers and their entourage — instantly or not directly. Being one of many judges for MasterChef Telugu, too, was an ideal expertise. Though, I needed to do some juggling and multitasking with Merely South reopening across the similar time. However, nothing brings me larger pleasure than seeing three generations of a household sitting collectively at a desk having fun with the meals I put together or a teen tasting the meals and telling me that it reminds them of their grandmother’s meals. There isn’t any greater praise than that! 

You shut operations for greater than a yr however got here again stronger. How robust was that combat?
The primary and second waves of Covid hit us onerous. For the primary few months of Covid, the employees was all confused and in two minds whether or not to remain or return to their hometowns. We needed to allow them to go and so, shut store. For a yr, we had a contract to cater to the nursing employees of a sequence of hospitals. We had sufficient time to refurbish the restaurant, whereas conserving a lot of the components of Merely South. It has been doing effectively and your entire workforce deserves credit score for that. 

What’s cooking nowadays? 
Nicely, we have been purported to go international, however Covid performed spoilsport. We’re engaged on quite a lot of fascinating issues, nevertheless it’s early to let the cat out! Personally, there’s rather a lot I wish to do — from curating extra dishes out of millets to experimenting with wholesome, contemporary and seasonal meals, let’s see the place that goes.