Vinayak Gorur’s passion for cooking

Every now and then, you come across someone who's really good at what he does at a young age – and Gorur all you can do is shake your head and be depressed. I mean, impressed. Vinayak Gorur of Ahwatukee Foothills, Ariz., is only 21, but already making people shake their heads.

Starting your own catering company, landing a job as a sous-chef at a respected restaurant and winning a prestigious cooking competition are three feats most people might aspire to accomplish over the course of their lifetime, but Vinayak Gorur, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Desert Vista graduate, has accomplished all three tasks by the age of 21. …

In May of last year, Gorur won a scholarship to the Scottsdale Culinary Institute, which led him to pursue a career as a chef. Gorur, who is of Indian descent, acknowledges that this is not a typical career path chosen by Indians.

"Most Indians pursue science, but I love cooking," he said. "I really have a passion for this." [Link]

Gorur is definitely passionate about cooking. Just read the article in the Ahwatukee Foothills News and you may get a clue how good he is at brewing something or spreading it on thick.

Gorur's passion has been rewarded quickly. This February he was named the American Culinary Federation's Distinguished Culinary Student in the Southwest region. Gorur will receive a $3,500 school stipend and a three-day food and wine tour of Aspen, Colo., where he will meet with a respected chef.

Armed with a prestigious reward, Gorur set out to get a job as a chef. In March he was hired at Compass Restaurant, a revolving roof top restaurant that has been in downtown Phoenix for more than 30 years. …

So far, Gorur's supervisors at Compass have been pleased with his work.

"There was a lot of skepticism about him at first because we've never had a chef so young, but he's held up his end of the deal very well," said Chef Greg Aberdeen, Gorur's immediate supervisor at Compass Restaurant.

Gorur will be working at Compass four days each week while continuing attending the Scottsdale Culinary Institute. On top of school and work, He has been running his own catering business since January.

"My business is called Amrit Catering, which means nectar of gods in Sanskrit," Gorur said. "I've done six parties so far." [Link]

Yes, Gorur is passionate about cooking, especially cooking up stories. Just ask Krystin Wiggs, a reporter for the Ahwatukee Foothills News, and she'll tell you all about Gorur's tantalizing concoctions.

After interviewing Gorur, who showed up in our offices with his mother, I was impressed by his intelligence, ambition and polite manner. I also phoned his supervisor at the Compass Restaurant, Chef Greg Aberdeen, who gave me quotes full of glowing compliments for Gorur.

I asked Gorur if I could send a photographer to take photos of him while he was working at the Compass Restaurant or at school, but he said it was busy and dark at both places. So, instead, my editor ended up going to Gorur’s home where he cooked an entire meal while his mother looked on. And, yes, in case you were wondering, my editor said the food was very good. …

I didn’t realize that there was a potential problem with my story until I got a phone call from one of Gorur’s childhood friends, Megan Berg, who told me that she thought Gorur had lied to me and that my story was, subsequently, false. Berg said that she had called the Compass Restaurant herself, and that they told her they had never heard of Vinayak Gorur. …

I immediately called the Compass Restaurant to figure out what was going on, and much to my dismay they informed me that they had never heard of Vinayak Gorur or Chef Greg Aberdeen.

Needless to say, this stopped me in my tracks. I went through journalism school, and completely understand how vital truth and honesty are in every story I write.

Digging further, I found out that the local chapter of the American Culinary Federation, who had supposedly given Gorur an award, had also never heard of him. [Link]

Wiggs is naturally embarrassed and a litle angry about being conned. Truth is, it's easy to dupe a reporter, especially on a harmless story like this. Most reporters just don't have the time to double- and triple-check the facts, and hook the 21-year-old to a lie-detector.

It turns out that Gorur, according to his friends, has "a long history of making stories up to make himself sound better." He didn't just dupe the reporter, he also duped his parents.

Both parents said that they were not sure if Gorur was telling the truth about working at the Compass Restaurant, but that since the newspaper was writing about it, they assumed it was actually true.

“I don’t think he’s malicious, but he exhibits times of total immaturity,” Ravi Gorur, Vinayak Gorur’s father, said. “He has told small lies in the past, and he has been punished, but he is a mystery.”

Pushpa Gorur, Vinayak Gorur’s mother, said that her son has a knack for cooking, which is part of why she believed his story. She also believed the story was true simply because it was printed in the newspaper.

“When I brought Vinayak to the newspaper for the interview, I took Krystin’s words to heart,” Pushpa Gorur said during a recent phone interview. “Krystin said that she had gotten a call from Vinayak’s instructor and that she had spoken to his supervisor at the Compass, so I thought it was true.” [Link]

Don't despair, Ravi and Pushpa. Your son may not be cut out to be a chef, but with his media skills and knack for exaggerating the truth, he could have a bright future in politics.

If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

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