Chef Prithvi Raj
If you haven't yet tried Teppanyaki, it needs to be on top of your list. Teppanyaki is a modern style of Japanese cuisine based around an open iron cooktop, where the food is grilled right in front of the customers.
This food experience has now turned into a performance as well. This culinary form that is as theatrical as it is delicious, is slowly making its way into restaurants in Bengaluru. With restaurants like 'Teppan Japanese Grill and Sushi Bar' and 'Kitchen on table', becoming popular, Bengaluru is getting the authentic taste of Japanese culture.
However, becoming a Teppanyaki chef isn't an easy business, it takes years of training to master the art of Teppanyaki.
In a chat with Asra Mavad, Chef Prithvi Raj, who recently went viral online for showing off his Teppanyaki skills, talks about his training experience and more.
Did you always want to be a chef?
No, my plan initially was to play for the country. I was actually a pretty decent cricketer, so that was Plan A. My mom always told me "Do what you love, and you'll never have to work a day." My second passion was food. I always used to cook for everyone, it's something that makes me very happy; so I decided this was the path I wanted to take.
When I started training, I was in the restaurant observing how everything works and suddenly I see these chefs juggling knives, doing tricks with spatulas and I thought 'This is super impressive, plus it's all life'. It's so different from a normal restaurant experience, here the chefs literally put on a show for the customers. I was really drawn to the culinary art, especially since I hadn't yet experimented with Japanese cuisine I decided to take this up.
Do you believe Teppanyaki has scope in India?
It does, definitely! I think food, for that matter, is going to get picked up really soon. People now are really getting into the foodie trend.
What do you think of the Teppanyaki restaurants in Bengaluru?
There are some that are doing well, but they still have a long long way to go. Before the Teppanyaki scene takes off in India, people first need to understand the roots of Teppanyaki. It's all about hospitality and the way you present the food. These things matter a lot.
Your viral video now has over 1.5 million views, did that affect your career in any way?
For me it was just a regular video that I had posted, but then after a while, I got a message from '9GAG' asking me permission to share the video. I was fine with it. I thought it was no big deal, but then it started circulating all over social media to the point that even Charlie Sheen shared it. I will never forget that. The video has also been getting me quite a lot of job offers.
Any advice for people pursuing this career?
The profession of a chef is not an easy one. The industry has slowly turned into a sport, especially in Europe. With so many culinary institutes pumping out students, the industry has become very fast moving. So it's very important that you're passionate about what you're doing and then all you have to do is just put your head down and keep working. It's all about the commitment. Always look at the big picture, you might have to struggle now, but if you're willing to put in the hours then you'll definitely get where you want to be.