The Sidewalk Chef Cooks Under Fire at MDC Wolfson

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We've been giving you updates about the continuing adventures of Sidewalk Chef Shashank Agtey since May 2009.

We've told you the story of his humble beginnings, short version: a wealthy 17-year-old kid from Bombay whose eyesight doesn't meet Air Force standards is dropped off in Miami by his father with little more than the shirt on his back.

He starts as a dishwasher for Alvin Malnik's the Forge and works his way up the ranks of the South Florida restaurant industry to become a certified executive chef.

To his family, he's still just a cook, a lowly profession. So he becomes the Sidewalk Chef, embraces his calling, and sets out on a quest to earn his father's respect.

Here's the latest development in the saga:

Beginning in March, Chef Shashank will teach a class at the Miami-Dade Wolfson Campus's brand-new culinary center in the School of Community Education. The class is called Cooking Under Fire. Click here for details.

"It's not going to be like a conventional class. I call it 'interactive teaching,' where I'm learning from the students as I teach them.

"It's all about experimenting.

"I'm not perfect; I make mistakes too. It's how you adjust that counts. Sometimes you make some really weird stuff and people love it.

"For example, they'll learn how you can buy just a couple of things and mix and match them to create a variety of meals.

"It's like pork chop salad. I teach you how to cook pork chops, so you make five and got two left over. You chop them finely, add some olive oil, vinegar, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives.

"Because of the economy, restaurant sales are down and cookbook sales are up. That's gotta tell you something.

"Once I get this thing built up, it's gonna be wild.

"We also have the Shashank Agtey Sidewalk Chef Scholarship Fund for underprivileged students that can't afford culinary a leg up.

Charity is important. I was a foreigner. I came from India, and Miami-Dade gave me a lot, and here we are now -- wow -- such a proud moment, to be here and teach it's like my school."

Visit sidewalkchef.com for more info and Cooking Under Fire for more info on or to sign up for Shashank's class.

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