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Suvir SaranSuvir Saran is a native of New Delhi, India who was raised on traditional Indian cooking. He is a passionate and inventive cooking teacher as well as a sort of unofficial ambassador of Indian culture; wherever he goes (in India, Europe and the United States) he finds himself teaching people - colleagues in classes and jobs, strangers in airports and on the street - to love the food and culture of his native country.

Suvir Saran is a caterer, cooking teacher and food consultant. Suvir studied music, fine arts and graphic design in Bombay and then moved to New York City in 1993 to continue those studies at The School of Visual Arts. In New York he found himself once more assuming his role of cultural ambassador, teaching an appreciation of Indian cooking and culture just as he had done in his elementary school. So when co-workers at Bergdorf Goodman, where he worked as a buyer for home furnishings, took an interest in the foods he was eating, he began bringing food in for them, too.

Panditji & Suvir SaranSarans partner, Chuck Edwards, and he also entertained most each night, at their home in Greenwich Village. Saran would cook after working a rigorous day, cooking was meditative to him. Chuck was and remains his muse and patient taster. It was for Chuck that Saran cooked his first non-vegetarian dish. It's success made him try cooking more with meats. Soon, it was the challenge of cooking something without tasting that made him love cooking meats completely. His colleagues and friends fell in love with the food. It was, they said, the best Indian food they had ever eaten: it wasn't too hot; it had a nice balance of spices; it was comforting; the taste was unusually delicate. Inevitably someone asked him to cater a party and then someone else and eventually he gave up his other work and concentrated on catering and teaching Indian cooking.

In 1997 Suvir joined the staff of the Department of Food and Nutrition at New York University's Professional Development and Continuing Education Program where he currently teaches Indian cooking. These classes have been enormously popular and were listed in a recent issue of New York Magazine (Schools for Scampi, September 2000) as the most popular cooking classes offered by New York University. Suvir also made New York Magazine's list of the top forty caterers in the country (Dish on the Top Forty Caterers, February 1999); his orange-mango soufflé with candied mango peel and pomegranate seeds was featured on the cover of that issue.

Suvir now owns a catering and consulting business Rasoi, The Indian Kitchen. Rasoi lists among its clients the Asia Society, Carnegie Hall, the World Music Institute and New York University. (Suvir catered an event for the Asia Society in 1997 celebrating India's 50th year of independence from the British for which guests paid several thousand dollars per table.) Suvir's catering and cooking classes have been favorably reviewed in a variety of publications in addition to New York Magazine including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and US News.

Suvir is on the editorial team of Food Arts Magazine as contributing authority for Indian food. His recipes and work have also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, New York Times and US News World Report. Suvir is director of marketing for the Clubhouse Group that has opened restaurants in Chicago, Los Angeles and Atlanta, and will open two more restaurants this year in Dallas and Columbus, Ohio.

Suvir was featured in an article on the hottest caterers in New York, in New York Magazine . . .

Cover Story - New York's Best Caterers

New York MagazineAffair to remember:
When the Music Festival of India celebrated India's fiftieth year of independence at Carnegie Hall, Saran reproduced Indian percussion instruments out of lentils and floated them in bowls of vegetable soup. A palate-cleanser was a tropical-juice concoction from a recipe written in Arabic that he noticed in a miniature painting from the seventeenth century.

Who runs the show:
Saran was born in New Delhi and studied graphic design in Bombay. He worked as a store manager at the Metropolitan Museum, and then was briefly a buyer for Bergdorf Goodman's home furnishings. All the while, he was hosting lots of parties at his West Village apartment. When he was growing up, Savan's family had a chef who'd come with his grandmother's dowry. "I used to keep a diary since I was 7 years old on how he cooked," Savan says. He's been catering for three years now.

Trés Chic:
"People have not had the right exposure to Indian food," says Savan. "Taxi drivers started most of the restaurants here." The dessert at Savan's Carnegie Hall dinner was orange-and-mango souffles stuffed inside hollowed-out oranges. At one event at Second Avenue's Foundry Theater, the centerpieces were heaps of rice. On top of each mound was a depression filled with a different spice. "There were no table numbers," Saran recalls. "People had to ask each other which spice was, say, lavender to find their tables." Saran likes to substitute yogurt for butter in a lot of his cooking. He also totes a mini tandoor oven around with him to jobs.

At your service:
Waiters wearing paisley shawls.

The dish:
Betsy von Furstenberg hosted a fund-raising dinner at her home for thirty people. "She's proud of her own Indian cooking," Saran says, noting that after her guests sampled his chicken breast with apricot-and-plum sauce, Von Furstenberg joked, "You've ruined it for me. I can't have these people over again and cook Indian food."

The tab:
Cocktails from $40 per person (including tandoori hors d'oeuvre); three-course dinners from $75. Minimum food cost, $600; dinner parties for 4 to 350 persons; cocktails to 500.

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