Abishek Sharma is a New York-based entrepreneur, chef, and caterer. Abishek specializes in blending traditional Indian cuisines with the heart and soul of Western flavors. He brings an eye for precision, twists, and modernism to the traditional Indian cuisine, having trained as a sous chef under his father in New York City restaurants for over a decade. Abishek, a shrewd businessman and culinary artist, is in charge of the running and success of four separate restaurants in New York City. During an exciting interview with TINDS, Abishek reveals his tale of accomplishment and how he got to this point.
TINDS: What was your childhood like?
TINDS: When did you move to the states?
Abishek: We moved to New York in 1994 when I was just about five years of age. My started his career as a chef in India and he moved to the states to give us a better future.
TINDS: 3 words that describe you the best.
Abishek: Fun, Loving & Caring.
TINDS: How did you get interested in cooking?
Abishek: Basically, everybody cooked in our household. My father being a chef and my mother being an even better one. We kind of wanted to carry on the legacy. Growing up in the US was partially hard because there weren’t as many brown people in school. My goal always was to bring the culture together and what better than food to get the job done. People here weren’t very familiar with curry or spices and I wanted to educate them about what Indian cuisine had to offer that people were not accustomed to eating and that’s what we do now in all of my restaurants, bring people together.
TINDS: Who would you say you learned from?
Abishek: The restaurant style cooking comes from my father and the home style of cooking that we are trying to incorporate in our restaurants comes from my mom’s side.
TINDS: Tell us a little bit about your businesses/the restaurants that you own?
Abishek: Each restaurant that I own has its own unique identity. For example, ‘Badshah To-go’ offers fast food that is mostly found in the streets of South Asian countries. ‘Madamji’ on the other hand is a modernity brought to Indian food. It’s just very innovative how we are able to portray Indian traditions in a rather modern and creative way. ‘Swagat’ focuses on Indian dishes from the tandoor oven and ‘Rang’ provides guests with a recreation of Indian cuisine that is infused with the color, flavor, and personality of New York.
TINDS: Having so much to do, how do you manage your personal & professional life?
Abishek: To be honest, everybody around me, especially my family understands that this is what I love to do. I do not consider this as work, it’s rather more of who I am. I am a father of two kids and I always make sure to take a day off every week just to spend time with my family and friends.
TINDS: What is your favorite dish?
Abishek: I am a very big meat eater and I love to eat meat. One of my favorite dishes is one that my restaurant serves, which is the Chicken Mangalorean. It’s mostly curry leaves, red chili pepper, black pepper and chicken curry that is very homely and healthy. And not to mention Biryanis of course.
TINDS: How often do you visit India?
Abishek: Ever since I left India, I’ve been there twice. But some of the things I really want to do in the future is to visit India and go to different areas to research and learn the different ways they cook and bring it back to the states and do something different with the experience.
TINDS: When was the last time you visited India?
Abishek: The last time I visited was back in 2015.
TINDS: How do you feel being able to represent India so far away from home?
Abishek: Indians as a community in NY are very close. We spread diversity and culture more in NY than any other place I think.
TINDS: What did you have to struggle with coming this far?
Abishek: There were more than a few. Initially it was to find my identity regarding what was I trying to display and showcase to the world. Having long menus in the restaurant wasn’t a thing when I was younger, but things have changed now. Growing older everyday, one starts to care less about others and it’s more about telling your own story that wasn’t done before. Earlier, it was more about living under my father’s shadows, it is now more about doing things on my own and figuring it out myself.
TINDS: What are your plans for the future?
Abishek: We are always planning something new. We have budget plans to do new things in the near future. We are planning on a concept to bring food and music together and that’s what we’ve been working on right now.
TINDS: What would your advice be to new cooks/entrepreneurs?
Abishek: My advice would be that it’s okay to fail, not just once but multiple times. What’s important is to learn from your failures and not make those same mistakes again. I, for example, have opened many restaurants and closed them because of failures and that’s where I learned from.
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