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RAMW Member on the Menu: Vikram Sunderam

Chef Vikram Sunderam
June 4, 2014

Group Executive Chef of Rasika and Rasika West End Vikram Sunderam, who who was awarded the 2014 "Best Chef, Mid-Atlantic” by James Beard Foundation, recently sat down for an interview with RAMW. Chef Sunderam has been nominated for “Chef of the Year” by the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington in 2009, 2010, and captured the RAMMY Award for "Chef of Year" in 2012.

What is the hardest part about being a chef?
It is very important for a chef to maintain the consistency, standard and quality of the food daily. Also as I like to be in the kitchen it gets difficult to split my time between my family and the restaurant.

…and the most rewarding part?
When you walk into the dining room and see happy and satisfied faces of the guests.

Where do you look for inspiration when putting your menu together?
Globally. By reading magazines, seeing TV food shows. Also try to research on the multi-regional cuisine of India.

How are your restaurants/menus influenced by the neighborhoods they are located in?
Being a specialty Indian restaurant the neighborhoods do not have an impact on our menus. Hopefully we influence the neighborhood with our food.

How did you get started in the business?
As I had a passion for cooking went to a catering school in Mumbai, India and then joined the Taj group of hotels. Worked with the hotel group for 20 years and then moved to DC.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Would like to reach out to a wider market by having our Indian food in various supermarkets nationally. Also we would like to do Indian restaurants in different cities e.g. New York.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
To stay focused, humble and to enjoy my work.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
I would have been a musician.

What’s your favorite DMV spot?
Oval Room

What is your favorite ingredient?
Cilantro. It has a nice refreshing taste and flavor. Also, it is a very versatile ingredient as it can be used to make chutneys as well as cooked for making sauces.

You’re hosting a dream dinner party. What three people would be at your table?
The First Lady - Mrs. Michelle Obama, The Prime Minister of India- Mr.Narendra Modi, My wife – Mrs. Anjali Sunderam

It’s the last meal of your life - what’s on your plate?
Whatever is cooked by my wife.

What are your pet peeves?
I get irritated when things are misplaced in the kitchen. Also when the staff are sloppy and insincere in their work.

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?
We cook at a lot of charity events which support various causes.

What’s your favorite go-to junk food?
I am on a strict diet right now.