Alfred Prasad was born in Wardha in central India, his father and mother both influencing his future career in their individual ways. In his father’s family, vegetarian cooking was central and Alfred Prasad spent hours in his vegetable garden, tending ingredients on their way to the dinner table. His mother’s Anglo-Indian background meant that she had great skill with preparing meat and joined her in the kitchen at every opportunity, helping with preparation and enjoying the results. He told the World Gourmet Society: “Even now, I treasure those moments when I was together with my family and learned how rewarding it could be to work with great ingredients and to simply have good food in my fingers.” Extensive travel around India with his parents also exposed him to the incredible breadth of Indian regional cuisine, something he explored further in his training and career.
After completing a diploma in hotel management in 1993, he was hand-picked for advanced chef training during which he worked at two of India’s finest and most iconic restaurants – Bukhara, at the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi, which specialises in north-west frontier cuisine, and Dakshin at the Park Sheraton in Chennai, which focuses on the cuisine of the southern states of India. During his six years with these restaurants he further developed his appreciation for the variety of India’s different food cultures, a specialism he has continued to develop throughout his career.
In 2001, he moved to the UK to take up the job of sous chef at Tamarind in London’s Mayfair. Within a year he was promoted to the restaurant group’s Director of Cuisine, which meant he oversaw their four venues – Tamarind, Imli Street and Zaika in London, and Tamarind of London in California. He maintained Tamarind’s Michelin star for twelve years, in the process becoming the youngest Indian chef to receive a Michelin star at the age of 29.
Alfred Prasad’s food at Tamarind offered a highly original take on British notions of traditional Indian cooking, described on the restaurant’s website as “delicately balancing creativity and authenticity”. Bringing fresh, seasonal ingredients to life, he sought to “preserve the purity and flavour of ingredients”, enhancing them with subtle spicing and a light touch and eschewing the stereotype that Indian food is heavy and greasy. Drawing on the south Indian coastal cuisine of his upbringing, his eclectic menus featured fresh British seafood such as sea bass and scallops, adapted to Indian flavours, as well as the game and meat more traditional to north-west Indian Moghul cuisine.