Rakesh Raghunathan is a food raconteur, with a deep and abiding interest in food history and practices, and its interaction with socio-cultural norms. Having launched and run a chain of food outlets in the past, he is now a full-time food traveller and historian.
“I was a lot more interested in recreating and preserving the traditional air loom recipes. Even as a kid I would be looking at shows on TV that involve food and as soon as I see that recipe that appeals to me I would make the dish whether it turned out good or not, my family were lab rats I would serve it to them”, he chuckles.
Rakesh is also a trained classical vocalist and has performed widely across several venues in India and abroad. He has collaborated with various artistes and has sung in movies. He combines his singing in all his thematic cookery workshops which adds a unique dimension to his presentation on food.
“I feel we have always taken food for granted and never internalised it, particularly the South Indian cooking aesthetic is missing. So, I researched food by cutting through the recipes down several layers, which is when you are able to also showcase the particular food”, added Rakesh.
Rakesh also does thematic workshops that involve food from a particular region which is of three types. One is at workshops based on recipes, for instance, food only based on Chettinad, and Thanjavur cuisine showcasing recipes and sharing interesting anecdotes about the food. Another one is called ‘Sacred offering’ which is about temple prasatham where he picks a particular temple and its pasatham. Where he explains the history of the temple, the local legends and mythology and brings in the culinary history of the prasatham’s ingredients. The final one is corporate theme building workshops.
Rakesh talks about the experience of his food research “I started travelling to places from 2015 wne I would go and talk to local people from the place. When you talk to people is when you will understand whether they are serious foodies or not. I have also built a great relationship right from people who are 25 years to 85 years”.
Rakesh is launching his YouTube channel while also working on a few restaurant projects. He is also working on Season 2 of Dakshin Diaries, a hugely popular TV show, that air son a lifestyle channel and has other projects on hand.