Chef Shashank Agtey started his culinary career at The Forge as a dishwasher back when it was still owned by Meyer Lansky. He ended up in Miami from Bombay, India after his father dropped him off on our shores at the age of 17 with $125 in his pocket. Bad eyesight meant the military fighter pilot career for which he'd been groomed his whole life would not come to pass, so he was sent to America to seek his destiny. This is not made up.
Shashank comes from a privileged and politically connected family back in India that considers cooking a commoner's vocation.
As such, he's on a quest to prove to them that his life's passion and career choice is a worthy one and he's using reality television as a vehicle to do so.
It's still in the pilot stages, but the concept of the show is great. Basically, Shashank, The Sidewalk Chef, tours America in an Airstream trailer with a wacky cast of characters, stopping in cities along the way to shop for local ingredients and teach ordinary pedestrians how to make a gourmet dinner in under a half hour. He will also tell stories from his life. Each episode, participants and viewers will take valuable lessons they can use in their own kitchens and in their own lives. It's kind of like a culinary Kung Fu. Eventually Shashank takes his caravan to India where his family sees that he is a great man and that cooking is an honorable profession.
Currently Shashank works at Crocco's up in Lauderdale. I recently hung out with him up there and he is an awesome character with great stories,and he makes a mean pork chop. He used to work in the Omni Hotel on 15th and Biscayne and when the Overtown/Liberty City riots erupted the hotel put all the staff up for the night. They went up to the roof and watched the city burn. "It freaked me out" he says of the experience.
"I don't want to cook in the constraints of a kitchen, it's monotonous, everything is so structured, we just wanna have some fun." By we he means his wife, his buddy Mike who's been cooking with him for almost 20 years, the camera crew, his show producer (a 20 year music industry veteran) and whoever they pick up along the way. "I left India when I was 17, I wanna go back. I'm an American, I been here 33 years, and I love it, but a homeboy wanna go home."
Until the show gets picked up and goes into production Shashank is still an educator, by nature and soon professionally. He'll be teaching a course called "Cooking Under Fire" for the community education program at Miami Dade College."Right now we're laying the foundation. When we hit the road, we'll be wired for sound, video, everything."
Shashank even has his own legally trademarked phrase "What just flew off the pan!" He's ready for the bright lights, big cities, small towns, and adventure on the open road. Good luck dude, we're rooting for you.
Go to SidewalkChef.com for more info