In 1971, at the age of 16, I started visiting the Hare Krishna Temple in Brooklyn, New York and got my first taste of Krishna prasadam. In fact, like most of us, I became a prasadam addict, and that was one of the most important factors which attracted me to Krishna consciousness. In due time I got ivolved in kitchen services (pot washing was always the first service for new bhaktas), and after getting initiated became one of the cooks for Sri Sri Radha Govinda, New York Temple's beloved Deities.
Eventually, I became the cook on one of the Radha Damodar Traveling Sankirtan buses and even got the opportunity to cook for Srila Prabhupada during his drive to Gita Nagari farm on this bus. My cooking services led to opening three restaurants, one in the St. Louis, Missouri Temple, another in Austin, Texas, and finally to the opening of Kalachandji's in Dallas, Texas in 1982. It soon received much local recognition, and in 1987 the Vegetarian Times magazine rated it as one of the Top 10 vegetarian restaurants in the U.S.
Magic Lotus Catering, a vegetarian catering service, was an offshot of Kalachandji's Restaurant directed at the music entertainment industry which succeeded in serving many notable vegetarian bands and artists. The service even traveled as one of the food vendors with the 1992 Lollapalooza Music Tour to 35 shows across America.
More recently I served for three years as the cook for the famous Krishna Lunch program at the University of Florida in Gainesville (now in its 41st year of operation) where 1,000 + students a day enjoy a healthy and tasty lunch of Krishna prasadam. It was here that I began to conceive and develop the idea of quantity cooking cookbooks, and the Kitchen Religion Series is the outcome of that.
Photograph by R.O. Bumpass
Srila Prabhupada eating pakoras I cooked for him on the Radha Damodar bus, 1976. Read the entire story in the Kitchen Religion Series Introduction on the BOOKS page.