alfred prasad

Who is Chef Alfred Prasad? Introducing Authentic Indian Food Globally

Alfred Prasad, at 29, earned a Michelin star while serving as sous chef at Tamarind in Mayfair, London, becoming the youngest Indian chef to achieve this honour. Hailing from a lineage of hybrid culinary culture, he has not only carved a niche for himself but also revolutionised the UK's Indian dining scene by infusing genuine flavours and diversity into a realm previously dominated by uninspiring and hackneyed preparations of staple Indian foods. His traditional recipes, which are at the same time fresh and authentic, have earned him accolades and a dedicated following of food enthusiasts.

Follow us in this blog as we step into the culinary odyssey of Alfred Prasad, the maestro himself, and trace his career trajectory right from his roots.

Alfred Prasad: Foundation and Beginnings

Hailing from Wardha, Maharashtra, Alfred Prasad was born and raised under the hybrid influence of his Tamil Brahmin father and Anglo-Indian mother from Hyderabad. His childhood home was a delightful fusion of culinary traditions, where he and his elder sister found joy in helping their mother around the kitchen.

Early on, Prasad developed a deep affection for the enticing scents of his family's kitchen. Immersed in the vegetarian culinary heritage of his paternal side, he dedicated hours to cultivating ingredients in his vegetable garden and preparing for the dinner table. On the other hand, his mother, skilled in preparing meat dishes, became his partner in the kitchen, and together they crafted flavorful dishes regularly.

Although Prasad's journey into the culinary world had a headstart because of his parents' love for cooking, it was his extensive travels across India, accompanying his orthopaedic surgeon father on missions for The Leprosy Mission, that exposed him to the diverse flavours of Indian cuisines and solidified his passion for becoming a chef. Exploring the diverse regional cuisines during these travels became the cornerstone of his culinary education and career.

Prasad's mother, pleased with his passion for food, encouraged him to pursue a hotel management course, a decision that profoundly shaped his culinary journey. Enthralled by the science of cooking during his training at the Institute of Hotel Management in Chennai, he embarked on advanced chef training after graduating in 1993. This transformative experience led him to work at two iconic Indian restaurants: Bukhara at Maurya Sheraton in Delhi and Dakshin at Park Sheraton (now Crowne Plaza) in Chennai, where the foundations of his food philosophy took shape.

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Journey to Becoming A Michelin Star Chef

After six years of in-depth experience in the rich environment of authentic Indian flavours, Prasad began seeking broader horizons, recognising the limitations within the Indian hospitality industry, primarily confined to upscale hotels and fine-dining restaurants. He ventured to London in 1999, joining Tamarind of Mayfair as a sous chef and swiftly ascending to Executive Chef within a year.

Chef Prasad's signature dishes, like slow-cooked dal makhani, wild mushroom pulao, and roasted rack of lamb, won over Londoners' hearts and within a year at Tamarind, he became the director of cuisine for four venues, including Tamarind in London and California. At just 29, he earned a Michelin star, becoming the youngest Indian chef to do so, a recognition he held for an impressive 12 years. Prasad aimed to showcase the depth of Indian cuisine beyond popular dishes, and his success contributed to a broader appreciation for regional flavours.

Revamping the Indian Culinary Scene in London

Indian cuisine in the 2000s, when Prasad stepped foot in London, the Indian culinary scene was still at a nascent stage, predominated by Bangladeshi entrepreneurs who tailored flavours to suit British preferences. When Prasad took charge at Tamarind, he brought authenticity to the Indian food in London that was yet lacking, with traditional genuine Indian flavours and cooking techniques to Londoners.

Reflecting on the scenario, he shared with Sunday Guardian that he finds Indian food in London to be a "bastardised version" of authentic Indian food, as the Indian food business scene was run mainly by migrants out of desperation for sustenance. However, he does not fail to credit them for introducing the flavours of the subcontinent to the British palate and popularising them, even if they could not do them justice. He acknowledges them as forerunners who built the platform on which he could succeed and achieve glory.

With his decade-long experience in the UK's food and hospitality sector, Chef Prasad brought a fresh perspective to traditional Indian cuisine, blending creativity with authenticity. He incorporated various strands of India's rich culinary heritage into his cooking, including Ayurveda's ancient food science.

Despite the UK's limited culinary legacy, Prasad highlights London's emergence as a global food capital, benefiting from a rich blending of cuisines and cultures from around the world. Its extensive imports make up for the limited local production, making a wide range of global products and ingredients accessible to chefs in the UK.

Using light seasonal ingredients and subtle spicing, Prasad lends a delicate touch to his Indian cooking while maintaining their purity and flavour, contrary to the stereotype of heavy and greasy Indian food. Inspired by the south Indian coastal cuisine of his youth, his menus showcase a fusion of British seafood like sea bass and scallops with Indian flavours, alongside traditional meat dishes from northwest Indian Mughal cuisine.

An Exploratory Detour

In 2015, Prasad departed from The Tamarind Collection to pursue personal projects focused on showcasing the finest aspects of Indian cuisine. At Imli Street in Soho, Prasad presented a more casual and modern small-plate menu, maintaining his dedication to the crafted specialities of his homeland, featuring street food, travel snacks, South Indian and Sri Lankan coastal dishes, and international crossovers like Indo-Chinese. Throughout his culinary journey, from early travels with his parents to chef education in India, Prasad's passion for the diverse offerings of Indian food has remained unwavering.

'A Dream Homecoming'

After 18 years of culinary expertise in London, Chef Alfred Prasad returned to the national capital in 2019 for what he calls a "dream homecoming" at The Oberoi, New Delhi's Indian speciality restaurant, Omya. Serving as the mentor chef, Prasad expressed his long-held desire to contribute to the culinary scene in India, emphasising the importance of earning respect in one's own country, regardless of global achievements.

At Omya, Alfred Prasad champions the rise of "micro-regional cuisines," infusing diverse influences into the menu. Stepping away from molecular kitchen techniques, Omya is committed to serving "authentic" pan-Indian cuisine with tasteful and subtle contemporary enhancements.

Prasad has continued to provide consultancy services to renowned names in the global hospitality industry alongside his personal projects.

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Social Contributions

Prasad has also partnered with various NGOs and charity programs to alleviate issues at home, like food poverty and food waste. Prasad is an active ambassador of FoodCycle, a UK charity utilising surplus food, available kitchen spaces, and volunteer efforts to produce three-course meals for individuals facing the challenges of food poverty and social isolation.

In 2014, he participated in a challenging 250-mile cycling expedition across Rajasthan in just five days to raise funds for Action Against Hunger.

In 2016, he became the Brand Ambassador of The Akshaya Patra Foundation, supporting their mission of eliminating classroom hunger in India by contributing recipes for nutritious vegetarian cooking that enhance children's attention spans. The foundation provides free meals to underprivileged children in government schools whose families suffer from rotational hunger.

Prasad emphasises the importance of free meals, which extends beyond food provision, creating a positive and exponential effect on breaking the cycle of generational poverty and hunger by encouraging children to attend school for an education and opportunities for a better future.

Prasad has been a vocal advocate for gender diversity in kitchens, expressing a desire for more women in the culinary industry. He believes women's natural creativity and multitasking abilities make them excellent chefs, emphasising the need for proactive measures to enable their success in the culinary business.

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Alfred Prasad has not only revolutionised the perception of Indian cuisine in the UK but also demonstrated a commitment to his roots and the social problems surrounding food that haunt his home country. From earning accolades for his culinary brilliance to actively supporting initiatives addressing food poverty and waste, Prasad's impact extends beyond the kitchen. His return to India signifies a poignant homecoming, reflecting a deep-rooted passion to contribute to the culinary landscape of his homeland. As a chef, mentor, and advocate, Alfred Prasad continues to leave an indelible mark, showcasing the transformative power of food in both community and social impact.


Who is the youngest Indian chef to get a Michelin star?

Alfred Prasad was awarded a Michelin star in 2002, becoming the youngest Indian chef to achieve the honour. He maintained this prestigious recognition for thirteen consecutive years and received various other accolades. His culinary approach is guided by a philosophy centred around Heritage, Health, and Happiness.

Who is the chef at Tamarind London?

Atul Kochhar was the initial head chef at Tamarind in London when it secured its Michelin star. Alfred Prasad succeeded him in mid-2002, followed by Peter Joseph, who served as the head chef from 2012 until the restaurant closed and was refurbished in 2018.

Who is the head chef of Tamarind?

The head chef at Tamarind Mayfair is Manav Tuli, formerly Head Chef of the legendary Chutney Mary. Karunesh Khanna is the Executive Group Head Chef, previously Head Chef at Michelin-starred Amaya. The collaboration of these two supremely talented chefs has curated a refreshing and innovative menu at Tamarind Mayfair.

Anuska Saha

Anuska Saha is an aspiring academician and musician pursuing her Master's in English. A passionate book enthusiast and a singer-musician, she navigates the realms of academia and creativity with equal enthusiasm.

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