NEDUMANGAD: Appukuttan Nair, the septuagenarian chef, had prepared food for many generations of young talents, many of whom had evolved into big stars. Despite his advancing age and discouragement from the family members who are well-off, he has stuck on to the job that he views as ‘manava seva.’
Appukuttan Nair from Chuttayil near Kilimanoor entered the culinary field almost half a century ago and is now the main cook at the revenue district youth fete here. Now after completing 24 years of service in various school youth festivals, he says that the joy of preparing food to young talents had been an enthralling experience for him from the beginning of his career.
‘’I entered this field owing to difficult family circumstances. With the income from cooking I educated all my four children, one is an engineer, another one a business man, a daughter living abroad with her family and the other daughter now at home from Maharashtra. They advise me to take note of my age and retire from the field. But I feels to continue with this. Maybe the prayers of the children whom I prepared food might be behind all my success,’’ the modest master chef said.
The festival kitchen is busy without any break as the preparatory work for breakfast begins just after the dinner is served. On Wednesday morning, iddli and sambar were served to more than 1500 people.Appukuttan Nair had prepared nine side dishes and five curries along with ‘ada payasam’. The meal seemed to have satisfied the children, who are tired after their performances.
The festival kitchen also arranged tea and vada for snacks. In the late evening rice and curry will be served for dinner. More than 5000 people had attended Wednesday’s lunch.
Appukuttan Nair is assisted by 20 people who take care of everything from peeling vegetables to preparing payasam. But when asked about the wage, Appukuttan Nair shrugged his shoulder and said ‘’I never ask. But they never underpay.’’