Cooking it up virtually
City-based chef Sanjay Thumma is creating a storm with his food website vahrevah.com
If you have been drooling over your favourite dessert posted by your friend on Facebook, here’s your chance to make it and eat it. Just log on to vahrevah.com and there is a step by step explanation of how to go about it.
And the icing on the cake is chef Sanjay Thumma appearing in a video and making that dish for you to see and prepare. It’s afternoon as we speak to Sanjay and the chef has prepared a perfect meal: Palakura pakodi, crispy fried chicken and lemon rasam.
“We shoot the video while I am cooking and the next day, we upload it on YouTube,” he says.
For someone who is an experimental eater (“I eat anything that crawls and walks including lizards and snakes”), Sanjay traces his love for food as a seven-year-old when he would often hang around the kitchen (“I would get to eat first of any dish prepared”).
“It was also the time when my mother was hospitalised for a brief time and I got to be in the kitchen. I could even make my own dosa and scrambled eggs,” he recalls.
After a hotel management course, he joined the Welcome group as a junior sous chef. “Someone jokingly said, “You are like a trishank in between top management and staff. You get beaten but you serve good food.” This passion took him to the US and he opened a chain of restaurants.
After a while, he ‘got rid of all of them. That’s how crazy and stubborn I am,” he says with a laugh and continues, “During the restaurant phase, I realised that I was managing people rather than cooking.”
He found his calling while he was on a brief vacation. “My friends and their wives would call me often asking me for recipes. They would call me repeatedly saying they missed some part and I had to repeat the procedure. I then found a solution and made videos of the making of the dish and uploaded it on YouTube.”
The videos became a hit, he became a vahchef and his website vahrevah.com came into being.
The popularity of his YouTube videos can be gauged by the number of hits. “I get more than 100 million views for my videos,” says Sanjay with pride. One of the reasons for his popularity is his flexibility approach while cooking. “I show how tiramisu can be made with hung curd, if mascarpone cheese is not available,” he says. The feedback from his followers has kept his enthusiasm levels high.
“I have women telling me that their marriage is saved because they prepared a dish seeing my website,” he says.
While his wife Ragini shoots and edits before uploading the videos on YouTube, Sanjay whips up delicacies with a smile on his face.
Any ambitions to open a restaurant in Hyderabad? “No. If I open a restaurant, I will be feeding only a few. With my website, I am feeding a few lakhs every day!”