Meet the chef: Michelin star culinary heavyweight Alfred Prasad
Alfred Prasad is widely credited with elevating the reputation of British Indian food with his delicate treatment of fresh, seasonal produce. Becoming the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin star at the age of just 29, he retained this accolade at Tamarind in Mayfair, London for 12 years.
Natasha Heard, food and drink editor at Luxury Lifestyle Magazine, talks to Alfred about his culinary background, the 13 glorious years he spent at Tamarind, his favourite restaurants and what he got up to during his recent trip to the Banyan Tree hotel in the beautiful Seychelles.
1. How did your culinary career begin?
I was very fortunate to be campus recruited by one of the top hotel chains whilst at hotel school. In my first professional stint, I got to work in the legendary kitchens of Bukhara at ITC Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi.
2. What brought you to London and to Tamarind of Mayfair?
Whilst still with the ITC / Sheraton group in India as head chef at Dakshin, an iconic restaurant specializing in the cuisines of South India, I was head hunted for a posting in London. After working in large hotel kitchens, with considerable space and staffing, it was a bit of a shock to work out of tiny kitchens in London. Apart from the initial adjustment, I have never looked back. London offers a great canvas for a creative person. I earned my first Michelin star at Tamarind of Mayfair. I had joined as sous chef in 2001 and progressed to Executive chef the year after. I was with the Tamarind group for 13 years and we saw a lot of growth, momentum and good times.
3. Do you have a favourite London restaurant?
We are so spoilt for choice in London that it is hard to pick firm favourites. I love going to a little Italian place in Richmond called Al boccon di vino. They don’t offer a menu but serve incredible Venetian fare with lots of Italian love and charm.
4. Do you have a favourite restaurant elsewhere in the world?
Milo’s in NYC, Sarong in Bali and at the Hotel de la paix, Siem Reap.
5. What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently site-finding for my restaurant project. Working on my own concept has been an amazing journey. In the interim I am consulting for a few restaurant projects across the UK, working on my first book as well as showcasing my cuisine at several festivals / venues across the globe.
6. Aside from cooking, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy playing tennis, also cycling, photography and gardening.
7. Where are some of your favourite places to travel?
Japan (Kyoto during Sakura is magical), Italy which feels like India in so many ways and of course my home country – there’s so much more to explore and discover in India.
8. Tell us about your recent trip to the Seychelles
It was incredible and soulful in so many ways. The immense natural beauty that greets you on arrival is the first of many magical moments to savour in the Seychelles. I was fortunate to experience the Banyan Tree hotel, which is set in verdant and natural wetlands. This worldclass hotel earns big points for its clever design, which doesn’t disrupt its surroundings in any way whilst offering a luxury experience. I had a great immersion into the Seychellois food culture and Kreol cuisine by the generous kitchen team at the Banyan tree. I can’t wait to go back and experience other facets of this unspoilt land.
9. Have you got any future trips lined up?
I will be in Geneva showcasing my cuisine at Hotel D’Angleterre from end Jul-Aug.
10. You are deeply passionate about food waste and food poverty, can you tell us about your connection to Food Cycle and Action Against Hunger?
I feel very strongly about issues around food hunger and food waste, which continue to stare us in the face. What’s truly shocking, is the fact that they co-exist in most towns and cities. I raise not only awareness of these critical issues but also valuable funds for charities such as Action Against Hunger and Food Cycle; organisations that achieve far reaching impact amongst vulnerable communities.