Sourabh Angarkar is a sous-chef at Slave Lake Inn and Conference Centre. His second book, “Roots of Herbs and Spices,” will be released early in 2020. His first book “The Vision Palate” was published while he was in the States.
Angarkar was born in Hyderabad, southern India in 1993. The next year his father lost his job and his mother became sick. His family was homeless for a time.
“After a lot of struggle, we’re okay now,” says Angarkar.
Angarkar has one sibling, a sister who’s a dentist in India.
Angarkar is focused on food and cooking. For example, the first thing he mentioned about his home town was what food it is famous for: chicken Biryani.
Biryani is slow-cooked in a pot, says Angarkar. It has basmati rice, yogurt, garam masala and other spices. It is a bit smoky.
“I come from a background where my family struggled for food,” says Angarkar. There were months at a time, when they ate only potatoes.
“The fruit that suffers the most is the sweetest,” Angarkar says, about how cooking became his destiny.
When Angarkar was 13, he started inventing his own recipes.
“I’m not the intellectual person, Angarkar says. He failed out of sixth form (the British and Indian equivalent of high school) twice, he continues. His principal at Shakainah Baptist Academy told his parents that no one would ever beat his record of failing all his classes with marks in the single digits. (The grading system isn’t out of 100, but single digits are still very low.)
Angarkar’s father told him that it reminded him of a phone number – single digits all lined up.
At the time, Angarkar told his grandfather that he didn’t need to study, instead he’d write books and people would study him.
Having his first book picked up by Power Publisher, an Indian subsidiary of Oxford Press, was the first step in making this promise a reality.
The title of the book “The Vision Palate” reflects Angarkar’s Indian and western cooking education.
“In India, we have lots of ingredients we use for spices,” says Angarkar. When he wrote his first cook book in America, he thought of all of the spices like a color palate. He’d also started cooking fusion cuisine, so ‘vision’ refers to all of the cooking in the world.
After sixth form, Angarkar made Indian chai and worked for free for India street food vendors to learn the trade. Once he had experience, he applied for culinary school. He went to Leo Academy in his home town.
Angarkar became connected with Hands in Hospitality, an Indian chef’s association, which is in turn associated with World Chefs in Paris, France.
The organization is eight years old. It has celebrity chefs and donates to schools, helping feed children and homeless people.
Through Hands in Hospitality, Angarkar had a cooking show in India. It was a Telugu language show, one of many languages spoken in India.
In 2015, Angarkar started working for a hotel chain, which has now merged with Marriott Hotels and Resources.
Angarkar wanted to move to the States.
“There is something calling me to the U.S.,” Angarkar said, during his immigration interview in Mumbai.
Moving to the States changed Angarkar’s life.
“That (moving to Colorado) is my turning point, actually,” he says. “It happens in movies; the prisoner has their freedom.”
Angarkar started working with Steven Raichlen, a celebrity chef at The Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Raichlen has a TV show, has written many barbecue books, and teaches a few classes at the hotel.
Angarkar was on the show once.
“He gifted me his book and an apron,” he says. “I made butter chicken that day on his show.”
Indian and American cooking use very different techniques and tools. In India, food tends to be cooked in a pot over a wood fire. However, the Indian government has banned this type of cooking, because of deforestation.
“My personal opinion is I like American style cooking better,” says Angarkar. “Indian cooking takes a lot of time and patience.”
Angarkar moved to Slave Lake six months ago and is enjoying it.
“I used to be in a small town,” he says. “I don’t like big cities. I don’t like the pollution.”
“I’m enjoying working with chef Trevis and his team” Angarkar says about working at the Slave Lake Inn.
Angarkar recently received the cover graphics for his new cook book “Roots of Herbs and Spices.” It is about the history of herbs and why it is important to use them.
A lot of people assume that they only add colour and are a garnish, says Angarkar.
There are also health benefits, and they add a lot of flavour. When a person rubs fresh herbs between their fingers, the smell and flavour remains even after they wash their hands.
“The Vision Palate” is available on Amazon U.S. and India. “Roots of Herbs and Spices” will be available on Amazon Canada, U.S. and India.
Angarkar’s next project is about the importance of slow cooking. For example, onions taste sweeter if they are caramelized on a low slow heat, than cooked at a high temperature.