Short Order recently caught up with Shashank and his wife Cristy. Here's the story of how a Miami food blog helped a Tampa based, English language, Indian newspaper decide to print a recipe comic.
"I was in the shower thinking about how to get the word out about Sidewalk Chef. We're not millionaires as of yet, so I was thinking about real grassroots kind of exposure. I've got a great comic collection and I've always loved cartoons and comics and so it just hit me to do a Sidewalk Chef cartoon.
This guy in Tampa who has a newspaper called Khaasbat, which means 'important talk' in Indian, found out about me on Short Order. He calls me up and says 'I wanna meet up and interview you.' So we're talking and I tell him about the cartoon idea and he said 'Shashank, nobody is doing this!' And so now we're gonna have the comic in this paper with 15,000 circulation.
We got this kid Hector The Director, that's what he calls himself, he designed the Sidewalk Chef logo and he's
drawing the comic. I didn't even know he was a cartoonist till I told
him about the idea, now he's our artist. These are just some rough drafts...
America still hasn't seen an Indian chef in the forefront. There's no one out there doing anything. Probably in August the first comic will run.
What we're trying to do here is not bullshit, we believe in it and we know it's gonna work. Right now I'm working as a private chef for the daughter of a retired NFL player's family of six. She wants to partner in a cookbook for simple, non intimidating recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less, on a budget.
The book is gonna be like a prelude to the reality show, cause once it's published we're gonna hit the talkshow circuit and from there we're just gonna get so much publicity...we're gonna sell bookmarks, we're gonna have a bobble head doll, t-shirts, wall papers for your cell phone.
The way I got the private chef job is great. The last night that Crocco's was open I didn't know it at the time. So the next day my wife and I are out to breakfast at Mom's Kitchen, a small diner I been goin to for years in Ft. Lauderdale, and this guy Joe comes and sits down and says 'I got a guy who's Indian like you that loves the way you cook and wants to meet you.' Later that day I find out that Crocco's is closing, and a week later I'm working this new job. It's like the stars were just aligning perfectly.
It's a lifestyle change. I been working nights for 30 years. Now I'm working Monday through Friday and I'm home by 8 p.m. It's another perk of the job.
And if that wasn't enough, in November I'm teaching my Cooking Under Fire series at MDC.
You gotta have fun. I may be old, but I'm not too old to have fun, I'll walk that line with anybody. We like to say the sidewalk never ends. On my facebook I wrote 'the train has left the station, if you're not on board...' hahaha. This is gonna be one hell of a ride. I can't wait.
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