Food community Culinary Culture’s announcement of FoodSuperstars brought cheer to Hyderabad, with the inclusion of chef Chalapathi Rao of Simply South among the top 30 chefs in India. . Established to transform the perception of India’s culinary culture globally, Culinary Culture was co-founded by food critic Vir Sanghvi and Sameer Sain, co-founder and CEO of Everstone Group.
On finding a place in the top 30 , chef Chalapathi says, “It is a culture that rewards chefs as true heroes of the Indian food and beverage industry. It has nothing to do with the restaurant or establishment the chef works for.”
In a career that spans over 25 years, chef Challu (as he is fondly called by friends) has been constantly reinventing traditional recipes to provide an evolved culinary experience to the restaurant’s patrons. For instance, to maintain authenticity in a south Indian menu, he serves dishes with yam and mushroom and avoids paneer, which is not used in the cuisine.
He has been a successful brand custodian as well as Master Chef of the Dakshin brand at the ITC Hotels in the past. Elaborating about the recognition by Culinary Culture, he says: “It is one of the most secretive review processes. None of us knew who came and dined. And it is not once. It follows a detailed selection process with nominations put forward by Culinary Culture’s community of ‘FoodHunters’ (40 food connoisseurs from across the country). Each nomination was submitted along with an explanation of why a particular chef deserves a place on the list. The process included a physical session to debate the nominations, where the FoodHunters had to defend their choices. The final list of nominated chefs was then shared with Culinary Culture’s Secret Jury consisting of India’s topmost culinary experts and gourmets . The Jury further shortlisted the Top 30, in a process that was overseen by Vir Sanghvi. The final list is disclosed only on the night of the awards ceremony and is not shared with the FoodHunters.
Recollecting his interest in cooking, chef Chalapathi says, “My first steps into the culinary world were when I was11years old. I was introduced to the amazing world of the kitchen where my mother would reign over; she used to create lip-smacking, nutritious food for us three times a day. When she was bed-ridden for over six months due to an accident, my father summoned me along with my sibling to help in the kitchen. That is how I began my tryst with the kitchen. Now, as a chef, I believe food is a combination of science and art, the science is in understanding the ingredients and the art is in using the said ingredients.”