About Ajay

About Ajay
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Food has been a mainstay for me from a very young age. When I look back to my earliest recollections of growing up in Kolkata, they almost always involve food- joyous times with family and friends. Memories of biting through a kathi roll from Nizam’s, with the crisp exterior giving way to pliant unleavened dough embracing a savory interior of egg and chicken, or the almond soufflé from the now-defunct Sky Room on Park Street, almost tremulous on one’s tongue. These are no longer available any more, but they are immortalized in my memory.

We moved to Bombay (Mumbai, for you purists) when I was 11, where I was introduced to Gujarati, Maharashtrian and Parsee food, thanks to my friends from those communities. And there was Indian Chinese food, where Kung Pao chicken and Sesame beef were substituted for Chilli prawns and Chicken Manchurian. Pizza and burgers were not as ubiquitous those days as in the Mumbai of today.

My first real taste of truly global cuisine came when I moved to the United States for graduate school. Many will chuckle at the concept of Salt Lake City having much by the way of International Cuisine, but there we were, students from a 100 different countries willing to share their food and culture. And I still haven’t had better mole than the Red Iguana on North Temple. Going to National scientific meetings as a graduate student allowed me to not only hone my scientific thinking but also explore the diversity of American cuisine. From Cajun and Creole in New Orleans to lobster rolls in Maine, life was a smorgasbord.

My next (and final) stop was the San Francisco Bay Area, where I moved for my post-doctoral fellowship. I was finally in an area with real world-class ‘foodie cred’, with iconic and pioneering establishments such as Chez Panisse and The French Laundry along with small mom & pop storefronts serving the most amazing global cuisine. This Mecca for food truly had it all! With such an abundance of local produce and ethnic cuisines, how could a food-lover not become a ‘food-mixologist’? Through my years in the Bay Area, I refined my palate, while simultaneously honing my culinary skills. I like to think of cooking as a biological experiment, precise and exacting- you have to use the right components to achieve success. And new discoveries fuel my soul, both as a scientist and a culinary explorer…

And now begins a new chapter in my culinary saga: this non-profit that promotes cultural awareness within the American public and helps ethnic restaurateurs succeed at the same time. Join me to see where this leads in my culinary quest…