Tuesday, July 3, 2007

For a Brief Moment...

I knew the man only briefly.

I had returned to campus after a year and half rehab from my accident. My foot and leg still gave me alot of trouble and one day on the way to class my ankle gave out on me.
As I leaned against the wall in the main hall nursing the pain enough to continue walking he approached me and asked if I was ok.

My reply of course was yes, and a small conversation about what was wrong, my accident, and what I planned to do career wise followed. All in all it lasted maybe 5 minutes.

Yet, in that 5 minutes I felt from him more concern and general caring about me and my situation then I had experienced from anyone since my accident in the culinary field.

His name was Chef Prem Kumar. A great man.

Chef Kumar lost a battle with cancer this past June, leaving a rather big hole in the Culinary Institute of America campus. A memorial service was held in the library yesterday to honor his memory and his family.

I knew the man was loved, but the turnout at the service was more then I honestly expected. Hell, its probably hypacritical of me to even say that, seeing as though I spoke to the man directly once, and for five minutes yet I was there to honor him as well.

The one thing I noticed most was the fact that every single student from India who attends class here was there, sitting right up front with pride. The man was both a mentor and a inspiration for these students, to come so far from home to learn more about what they love.

I feel it proper to mention him here, for the man was kind and from what I gather a good man. I wish that I had time to speak to him more, but thats the curse of cancer. It takes from us, and its not till after that we regret not doing, saying, or being more.

I hope that I remember the kindness he showed me in the brief moment we met for the rest of my life, and I use that moment for humility for the rest of my days.

Long live the memory of the good, the kind, and the honest man. For this life is in need of memories of such men.

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Scott said...

I worked very closely with chef Kumar at the CIA and he was a kind and gentle man. And a great chef, that carried himself with pride and dignity. He taught me a great deal. He will ne missed.

The Foodist said...


I am sorry for the loss of your friend and mentor. Like I said before, I knew him only for a brief moment but came across to me as a great man.

Hopefully some of the instructors here will remember how he lived his life as they try to teach students how to make sense of theirs.

SRIRAM said...

I worked with Chef kumar during my stint at CIA. His love for food and his passion towards teaching Indian cuisine was unmatched. we will truly miss him

Rajiv said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rajiv said...

I worked with Prem very closely in the early 1990's as I was resident manager at St James Court Hotel in London, UK and he was our Executive Chef. A great guy with a fine sense of humour and witty to the core. We spent many times planning & celebrating our successful events and mourning our screw ups! RIP My friend!

chef adolfo said...

I am a chef owner in New Orleans and 20 years ago spent some time in London staging with Prem at the the St James. He was a unique man with charisma passion and joie de vivre. I had the pleasure of cooking with his brigade on that trip for the queen Charles and Diana. Lobster dosa with black trumpet mushrooms and Indian spices.
My u spice the curries of the gods that are among u...rip

Anonymous said...

First I would thank you for your blog, our family have been wondering 5 years that what has happened to him because telephone doesnt answer anymore or some woman is answering :( We are so sad to find out this now, I was hoping that he has so much work that he can't call :(

We met this wonderfull person in Dubai 1996 as he was working in golf club. He used to take us the most fantastic Dubai restaurants and the way he looked deep into your eyes will never be forgotten. We had a joke, Silly fish. He teached me to drop bread into olive oil and winegar. He used to tell me how he doesnt sleep more than 4-6 years, I have allways been wondering that. He took us riding and we went to see horse races cause I'm a horse girl. :) Such a long time when we met him, but some people are special like Prem. We will miss you a lot dear friend :'(

What kind of cancer was it? I am so sad that he didnt call to my mom, we used to talk in telephone every christmass. My mother saw him in Dubai last time 2001 and he was talking about New York. For me he talked about some new restaurant?

Is there any site for him? How is his family? I dont know how to get over this... Where is his grave? I will go there someday to show our respects. Thanks once again for this site, I dont know how other we have had to know the truth witch was the worst possible. :(

We love you Prem <3
Karoliina and Raili

Caroline said...

That comment was mine...