Suvir Saran describes the four-bedroom clapboard farm- house where he and his partner charlie Burd live as a lovely shade of turmeric. which seems fitting coming from a New Dehli born-and-raised chef. their 68-acre upstate New York
farm also has seven outbuildings, “the taj mahal” of chicken coops,
an apple orchard, maple trees, chickens, geese, ducks, alpaca and a
llama named antonio Banderas.
they called the farm masala, which means spice in Hindi. “we
dreamed of how great it would be to create an environment where,
like a great spice blend, people from all different backgrounds can
mix together to share food, ideas, curiosities and convictions.”
though the rural landscape was new, the idea of sharing and coming
together over food was how he landed a cooking career in the first place.
Saran moved to New York city in the early 90s as a grad student,
but he missed the tastes of home. He phoned his mother, Sunita, and
his family’s cook, Devi Prasad Pandey. “i would call and talk for hours,
standing at the stove asking for advice. my first phone bill was over
$1,400.” Soon Saran was entertaining New York society, friends he’d
met while working at the metropolitan museum.
But he didn’t pursue cooking as a full-time career until a boss
encouraged him. “He said you have calls from the head of the
National Film institute asking you to cater an event, you have the
King of morocco inviting you to morocco to cater. You should do
that! i’ll give you severance and if you hate cooking, come back.”
(Indian Home Cooking, American Masala and Masala Farm), instructor
(adjunct professor at NYU) and even tV presence. on Bravo’s Top
Chef Masters he was famously sent packing after he made a veggie
burger instead of the instructed beef variety.
So it makes sense that there are no animals raised for slaughter on
the farm. there are eggs from 120 chickens, 30 geese and 30 ducks and
a garden that provides ample food from july through october. the
herb garden is just outside the back door. there are also beehives for
honey and trees for maple production. “other than sugar, flour and
grain,” he says. “almost everything comes from the farm.”
San Francisco. But he loves getting home to the farm.
“we’ve become the Grand central of the community.” while his
once-reluctant neighbors didn’t know what to make of the gay indian,
now “i’m dear friends with people who wouldn’t talk to me before.
through food you can open hearts and minds. Hopefully we are leaving people with a more inspired way to look at life.” — BY KATE MEYERS
THIS BIG CITY CHEF BRINGS
HIS TABLE—AND HIS HEART—TO THE
COUNTRY FARM HE CALLS HOME.