Meet Chef Pankaj Pradhan

pankajI’m the proud owner and chef of the Red Lentil, a vegan and vegetarian restaurant just outside of Boston, in Watertown, Massachusetts.

I came to cooking in a rather roundabout way. During a brief career in IT, I realized something was missing from my life. I felt drawn towards cooking, so I decided to go to culinary school in Kolkata, in my home country of India.

I landed jobs working for Hyatt Hotels and Carnival Cruise Lines. During my time as a chef at Carnival, I visited over 40 countries and completed my higher culinary training in France. Being exposed to so many different places, cultures, and cuisines was one of the most enriching experiences I ever had.

I’d grown up vegetarian, and working on a cruise ship meant handling a great deal of beef—not exactly the ideal food for a vegetarian to cook with. Next, I tried living as a chef in New York City at an Indian restaurant.

Although I love working with Indian spices and technique, my time in France inspired my passion about French cuisine. I relocated to Rhode Island, working for several years as a chef at a vegetarian restaurant.

Then, I became a dad: of newborn twin sons, no less, which meant I needed a more flexible schedule. In the middle of 2009, with the economy tanked and restaurants closing left and right, I decided to take a risk and start up a restaurant. Red Lentil Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurant was born.

The Red Lentil has allowed me to express my creativity as a chef more than ever before. Of course, running a restaurant is about so much more than just the food itself. Even in our social-media-dominated society, food can still bring people together. A good meal can transform a person’s attitude and outlook on their day.

I love interacting with people. I created a menu that incorporates cuisines from around the world because I wanted to entice a diverse group of people to my restaurant.

Creating delicious food is the best way for me to show my gratitude to the world.