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Meet the self-taught head-chef, inviting you home for an OpenOut

Being an artist comes with seasons of low/no work.

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Meet Pritham, a guest of few OpenOuts and now a brand new host! 

I was born on the starting year of the age of the millennials (figure that out), in Bangalore, when it was still called as a pensioners paradise. When localities today were still lakes and forests.

Was food his passion, right from childhood? No. Not yet.

I always wanted to be a lawyer. My father was a lawyer and as a young, impressionable child I was, well, impressionable. I got into the course and quickly disliked everything about it. I just couldn’t see myself being a lawyer, even though that’s what I always wanted. But I did finish the course.

So now that young Pritham is not going anywhere with his course, where does the next destination take him? 

All the while, I had been falling deeper into an uncontrollable affection for theatre. I used to say that they’re both one big act, anyway. I still do, when poor jokes just fall out of my mouth. I was ‘working’ as an actor when I began. I say ‘working’ because that usually implies that one gets paid. In theatre, less so. Now, I have a résumé that runs into many pages with hundreds of productions behind me as an actor, director, lots as a lighting designer, and as a trainer for theatre and for corporates.

I’m currently running workshops that give away nearly 20 years of field experience as a Lighting Director/Designer in India, in the hope of encouraging a new generation. The need for this was so much that I even got called to talk about it at a TEDx event. I think a first in the world for stage lighting design.

2014 and 2015 is when a lot of things happened. Some good, some bad, but eventually for good.

Being an artist comes with seasons of low/no work.

During one or more such seasons, I was looking at a kitchen I had built that I was barely using. So, I started with easy things like breakfast. And I kept trying to improve it using newer techniques. This led to some ambition that I could call some friends over and cook for them. I’m pretty sure that my first few attempts were pretty basic and now when I look back, I shudder at what I was putting out. This must have been early 2014.

Early December in 2015, Pritham had a sever car crash that resulted in few broken ribs and a contused lung. 

But Christmas was coming and it’s hard to be sad in the merry merry season, right?

Christmas 2015. I decided to call nearly 50 people over for what I was calling — Christmas for Pagans. 42 people came. 

But the accident? We ask.

Did it stop me from making a six course meal for them? No. Did I like everything I put out? No. But the effort was monumental. That’s over 250 plates of food. I had no help, I cooked for three days. I was so wiped. People enjoyed it, some were very encouraging.

and that was roughly the time when Grasshopper was looking for someone to take over as a head-chef.

..a friend who hadn’t even tried my food, suggested that they (grasshopper) speak with me since they were looking for a self-taught chef. I met them, we fixed on my making a meal for a party they were going to have for 50 people. I went in a couple of days prior. Made Pork Teriyaki, creamy chicken with mash and the dessert that took me all the top 50 in MasterChef 2016. I remember them saying — I think the decision is clear and I started a month later.

Putting food out to a paying diner is quite nerve racking, especially when you come from nowhere in that world and to now do exactly that at a place with a super high reputation for food, was a great learning experience. Some of my dishes still continue to be part of the menu, there.

Before my time at Grasshopper, a friend insisted that I do a home hosted meal and that he would cover for all of it. This was on the heels of him trying my marinated grilled beef steaks. 

While that never happened and my food journey went elsewhere. 

Another friend told me about OpenOut and asked if I wanted to go for one. We booked two and tried it out. This was exactly what we were talking about and to have someone doing this already, was great!

Now, after all that and tying up all the theatre and dance productions I was staffed on. I’m ready to do this.

I am already on my way to host two at my home.

A Mexican brunch with the best Chili Con Carne with Spiced Butter and Cornbread Muffins you’ll eat and one of the most delicious Mexican dishes — Pork Carnitas with pineapple pico de Gallo. Oh, and Micheladas to bring it all together and Brigadeiros for dessert.

Soon after, there’s the next one with whiskey cocktails— The Penicillin, Retox and Highball. Paired with popular party food — Hummus with tahini sauce, Devilled Eggs with smoky tomato, Lasagne Rings with beef bolognese and ricotta with pesto, Alfredo Rings with pizza dough, cheese and parsley with a garlic sauce and a Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart with Brandy Whipped Cream and Macerated Strawberries.

I’m super excited going into these. I can hardly wait. I’m nervous. I hope that people who try these, see what I see in them or maybe I’m delusional. Either way, come and tell me. 

I promise I’ll get better.

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What was the dessert that took him to the Top 50 in Masterchef?

A white chocolate parfait called Autumn. 

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What happened after that?

An interesting story. Come ask me at my OpenOut.