Rahul was born in Manhattan, and grew up in Wellesley, Massachusetts. Born to a Korean mother who loves to cook a wide variety of food, and an Indian father who loves to eat a wide variety of food, it was almost a forgone conclusion that he would grow up loving to eat. That love of food eventually parlayed itself into a career cooking.
After a short stint as a bartender at a French restaurant in Maine, Rahul moved back to Wellesley, and backed his way into his first cooking job as a line cook at The Cottage Wellesley, a new restaurant that focused on Southern Californian food. Over two years there, Rahul was exposed to many different aspects of cooking, but eventually decided to follow his love of film, and moved to Los Angeles. While attending school, Rahul took a part time job working for free at The Gorbals in Downtown Los Angeles, just to be back in the kitchen. After a few months Rahul was hired as a line cook full time.
Rahul graduated from The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone in Napa Valley in 2013. With a culinary degree under his belt, and some time spent working at Lucques in Los Angeles, Rahul worked at Torc and at Archetype in Napa Valley. While working in the open kitchen at Archetype, Rahul learned to appreciate the incredible produce that Napa has to offer, as well as learning about the local wines. Six months later, Rahul moved to Copenhagen to work at the restaurant Noma. While at Noma, Rahul’s ideas about food were drastically changed, and directed more towards the versatility of vegetables, as well as non-traditional cooking techniques.
While in Copenhagen, Rahul received a call from a longtime friend, Ilan Hall, who had owned The Gorbals, and won season two of Top Chef. Ilan wanted to bring Rahul on board for a vegan project he was planning in Los Angeles, and after some consideration Rahul agreed. After leaving Noma, Rahul spent some time eating his way through Germany, Italy, India, and Australia, and picked up some interesting ideas along the way as well.
Upon returning to Los Angeles, Rahul partnered with Ilan and opened Ramen Hood in downtown Los Angeles. Ramen Hood seats 16 in the historic Grand Central Market, and is a 100% vegan ramen shop, which focuses on showcasing the versatility of the fruits and vegetables available in Southern California.
The biggest influences on Rahul’s love of food, outside of working, would definitely be his mother and extended family. Their love of food and traveling allowed him to travel extensively growing up; he was exposed to many different cuisines across Europe and Asia, as well as at his own dining table growing up. He gravitates towards his Korean and Indian heritage with the flavors he enjoys the most, as well as an insatiable love for Italian food, and french fries.
What tasting will you be serving? Why do you think this tasting paves the next wave of food trends?
I think our Persian Cucumber Salad with Yuzu avocado puree and Sesame Herb Wasabi Vinaigrette in a Pani Puri Shell tasting hits on a few different points of future food trends. The dish itself is vegan, and moving towards a more plant based diet using sustainable ingredients is important, both now and moving forward. Plant based and vegan dishes are better for both the planet and our bodies, and I think with the climate changing there's going to be a bigger emphasis on clean, healthy, sustainable eating. Past that, this dish combines a street food element with the Pani Puri shell, and is a mixture of both Indian and Japanese cuisines.
What does the future of Asian food look like?
The future of Asian Food could look like a lot of different things, but I definitely think that we'll start to see more dishes that showcase vegetables, smaller portions of proteins, and combinations of foods from different areas of Asia together. There are so many interesting combinations of food that are not really explored or seen here in America, that are worth delving into. Last time I was in India, I had Indian Chinese food and it was really interesting to see adjustments made for different flavor palates while still maintaining familiar aspects of original dishes.
What does celebrating 10 lucky years of LUCKYRICE mean to you?
10 Years of Lucky Rice is fantastic! My personal experience with Lucky Rice only started about four years ago with the first event we did, but I really enjoy the Lucky Rice events and what they bring to the table. It's important to expose people to different cultures and I think exposing people through food is an excellent way to get people interested and involved in something they might not have known about before. The way the events are structured to bring present trends to light while showcasing different aspects of food and culture really creates a complete opportunity for people attending to eat something delicious and learn something new.
Taste Chef Rahul’s innovative, vegan eats at our 10th year celebration LUCKYRICE Night Market of the Future on May 30h, 2019.