He was really good at his job. He could make Andhra Pulav, Hyderabad biryani, Ambur biryani, Kadai biryani. All at the same time and each will be a mouth-wateringing-ly different dish. North, south, east or west- name a dish and he could make it.
But there was a catch.
They say na... Too many cooks spoil the broth. Mani was a firm believer of this.
He did everything by himself. Buy the things. Chop them and cook them. He hated assistance. He got up at four. Went to the vegetable market. Brought vegetables. Came back and slept. Got up. Went to the meat market. Bought meat. Cleaned and cooked. It's ready for lunch.
Slept at four. Got up at six. Cooked dinner. Slept at 12.
Cooked all alone. Hated when anyone came to assist him. You should have seen him work. He looked like a drummer in those rock bands. He would sit in the center and have four stoves around him all in full swing.
But there was another catch.
He drank from morning to evening. While cooking there was that inevitable bottle somewhere nearby.
When he went on leave. The hotel closed down. And when he had a tiff with the owner and left for his village in Tamil Nadu. The owner's parents went to the village and coaxed him back to work.
It's here I saw firsthand how the cooks are the backbone of this industry. And good cooks, like good actors, are not made. They are born with the gift.
Despite having such a cook, the hotel went under. Coz the owner had an addiction to gambling. But that’s another story.
Wonder where Mani is today. Making mouth-watering treats for someone, somewhere -for sure.