A few days back a couple of friends and I (is that grammatically correct?) had gone for lunch to this quaint little place called La Casa. Essentially it serves good continental food and herein lies the irritation of the chef. But I guess i'm running away with the story a bit...
So walking into the restaurant we ran into the chef who took us under his wing for choosing a table for us. I guess the afternoon was a bit slow, or maybe he was a bit tipsy, or maybe he's just a normal friendly guy but he showed us around the restaurant asking us where we would like to sit. Then he took us to the bar and then beyond into the garden where an idyllic cove had been created between a bunch of trees and shrubs. A couple of garden benches and a hacked wood table made that corner into the "Drinker's Den" (in Akhil, the chef's parlance)
Unfortunately it was the afternoon and we couldn't really live up the expectations of the place, if you know what I mean. But Akhil came and joined us there with a smoke in hand and started talking about everything under the sun.
And what interesting tales!
He was born in Kenya. Grew up there, then went to study in UK where he got fascinated by the workings of McDonalds and decided to work with them. He had gone for some agricultural degree so obviously his parents and brothers and sisters were aghast. Against serious pressure he worked there for seven years before opening his own restaurant. Since then he's travelled to 12 countries vacationed in South Africa, gone on wild reserves in Botswana and what not.
Totally excellent to hear all his tales about the places, but importantly he's one guy who totally loves his work. He's managed hotels across the globes but talks about cooking as a form of art. And there's no gyan, he genuinely thinks that way. You can see it the way he talks about some dishes his chef prepared in Africa. And also his irritation for having to serve different cuisines when 'La Casa' means 'The Home' in Spanish, and hence should be serving only original spanish food.
All in all a fascinating experience. And sometimes you just come across some totally different people and its great talking to them.
Corollary: We stayed for 4 hours over lunch. Needless to say the lunch turned out to be one of the most expensive ones i've had - but it was worth it.