Das Sreedharan grew up in a small village near Cochin, Kerala, on the lush, spice-rich south west tip of India. As a boy, he spent much of his free time helping his mother in their vegetable garden and then in the kitchen, turning the plants they’d grown into sumptuous meals and enjoying the ultimate secure and happy, busy childhood.
As a young man, he moved to London to study accountancy, but food was always Das’s destiny. After managing a vegetarian restaurant for a while, he opened the first Rasa in 1994.It was an instant success, the now-trademark pink walls providing a uniquely serene and uplifting atmosphere for guests. In just a year, Rasa had become the most famous vegetarian restaurant in London. It won many awards and twice clinched the title of Time Out Best Vegetarian Restaurant.
Since then, seven new Rasa restaurants have been added to the chain, and there are plans for more. They all offer wonderful vegetarian dishes, but specialize too in their own unique representation of authentic south Indian meat and seafood cooking.
Filled with such passion for food, it has not been enough for Das to stop there.To have good food, we need to respect the environment in which it grows. Being part of this link between farming, gardening and cooking is to experience something very basic yet very profound, something in this world of ours that is good not only for each of us, but all of us at the same time.
Das also owns and operates a beautiful riverside farm in Kerala which he has converted into Rasa Gurukul, a centre for culinary excellence, hospitality and culture to be open to guests for durations of however long they wish, a place where people can learn many things, and through its relaxed but deeply engaging daily schedules, to experience fundamental happiness again. He has ambitions to set up a similar project in the UK.
He is also leader of the Rasa Spice Trail Tour, in which he takes guests on a culinary and spiritual journey around Kerala, and regularly hosts an Evening With Das at his restaurants, an evening of story-telling where he shares food facts and cookery skills, and where his wonderfully thought-provoking take on life has inspired many.
In London, Das helps organise the now annual Kerala Food Festival each September. The first event in Hanover Square in brought more than 10,000 people together, and it now takes place at the Kings Cross Holiday Inn.
He also makes regular visits to schools to inspire children and their parents to share a love of good home cooking that can colour their whole lives, and he is similarly committed to reaching older people who he feels are all too often robbed of their feelings of usefulness in today’s world.
Das has a great gift for hospitality which has captured the imagination of the media. He has appeared on television’s The Naked Chef and on numerous other programmes, radio shows and in magazines. He has also written four cookery books.