fbpx
Friday, September 17, 2021

DD’s Kitchen: when social work runs in the family

How Melbourne chef Daman Shrivastav and his daughter Diya are supporting hungry Australians during the pandemic.

Reading Time: 4 minutes 

For many chefs, their passion for the culinary arts goes back to their childhood, watching their mothers cook in the kitchen and provide for the family. Melbourne chef Daman Shrivastav, however, has a slightly different story.

“I wasn’t inclined to cooking at all as a child. It was only in year 12 when I saw how stylish Amitabh Bachchan looked in Amar Akbar Anthony that I even considered it as a career,” he laughed.

His father wanted him to become an engineer or a doctor, but Daman’s mind was made up by then, and he got his start at Imperial Hotel in his hometown of New Delhi.

“At the time, I had this attitude about not wanting to become a bawarchi (cook) and I hated my first few days as a kitchen hand, cleaning dishes and cutting vegetables,” he told Indian Link.

Three decades later, Daman is a celebrated restauranteur and chef. Finding the perfect balance between his love for food and his desire to serve the community, he has been distributing free meals to the homeless in Melbourne for the last ten years.

dds kitchen
Source: supplied

READ ALSO: MasterChef Australia’s Depinder: From pharmacy to food

With the pandemic and COVID lockdowns, he expanded his reach, and has been preparing over 1,000 meals a week to help international students who have also struggled during the pandemic.

The initiative, DD’s Kitchen, has a simple yet wholesome tagline: food is a basic human right.

“During the pandemic, I saw the plight of international students who lost their income. They struggled to pay their rent or buy even one meal a day,” Daman explained.

“There’s a misconception that these students come from rich families and can afford to live here, but in reality, their families take on huge financial hardships to send them to Australia. In these difficult times, if everyone stays home, who will look after them?”

dds kitchen
Source: Facebook

Joined by his 9-year-old daughter Diya, he puts his years of experience at top kitchens like Oberoi, Sheraton, and ITC into delicious, nutritious food.

“We focus on food that is balanced, healthy, and easy to consume. Our menu includes pastas, easy bakes, casseroles, and a good mix of vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals,” he elaborates. “At the end of the day, whether someone is a king or prime minister or homeless, we all deserve nourishing food.”

At one point in his career, Daman did in fact cook for a king, Hussein bin Talal of Jordan, but it’s just one laurel in his long culinary journey.

In the early 90’s, he worked in a luxury hotel in Baghdad during the first Gulf War, wearing gas masks to serve customers when told of a possible chemical attack. After the war, he had to start all over again, travelling across the Middle East to finally migrate to Melbourne in 1994.

For Daman, the passion for both social work and the culinary arts runs deep.

diya shrivastav
Source: Facebook

“I might not have appreciated it before, but when I started working professionally in kitchens overseas, I really understood and fell in love with the science of food,” he shared with Indian Link.

“There is real satisfaction in making other people happy. It’s taught me that passion can be built over time, and in the last 14 years as a hospitality lecturer, it’s something that I try to inculcate in my students.”

It’s certainly ingrained in Diya, his partner-in-crime at DD’s Kitchen and co-host of their online cooking show. Daman couldn’t be prouder.

READ ALSO: Help Chandrakanth Madireddy fight leukaemia

“Diya shows a real passion for cooking. Through this endeavour, she’s picked up some important skills like innovation, creativity, organisation, balancing flavours. She’s learnt to share and give back to the community. That’s important to me as a parent,” he grinned.

After years of supporting the needy from his own pocket, DD’s Kitchen began a fundraiser last year to purchase a food truck and continue their social enterprise. When funds fell short, the family sold their car to purchase a van to deliver their meals.

Now, DD’s Kitchen has between 30 to 40 volunteers who assist the father-daughter duo while the Yarra City Council has generously provided a house to cook in. Every Sunday, DD’s Kitchen provides a buffet for the community of Collingwood, providing for the Aboriginal residents.

But Daman has even bigger plans in store.

dds kitchen with van
Source: Facebook

“The next step is to educate so that people can provide for themselves. At the moment, we are doing this with video classes but I’m looking for space and infrastructure to be able to provide short courses on simple cooking skills,” he shared.

“The idea is to attract them with the meals, assess them, and then train them to provide for themselves. It’s important to share the knowledge. You know what they say – give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day but teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

Feedback from the community has been nothing short of heart-warming.

“People don’t need to say much, I get lots of hugs. That’s enough for me,” he smiled.

To support the DD’s Kitchen fundraiser, click here.

READ ALSO: Chef Ranveer Brar gets a lesson in Indigenous cooking


Link up with us!

Indian Link News website: Save our website as a bookmark

Indian Link E-NewsletterSubscribe to our weekly e-newsletter

Indian Link Newspaper: Click here to read our e-paper

Indian Link app: Download our app from Apple’s App Store or Google Play and subscribe to the alerts

Facebookfacebook.com/IndianLinkAustralia

Twitter: @indian_link

Instagram: @indianlink

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/IndianLinkMediaGroup

- Advertisement -
Rhea L Nath
Rhea L Nath is a writer, editor, and content creator based in Sydney. In 2020, she was nominated for Young Journalist of the Year (Premier's Multicultural Media Awards)

Related Articles

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisement -

Podcasts

Ep 9: What do young Indians want from love?

0
  Growing up in Indian culture, most of us know that love has never been as popular as marriage. Even in the movies, the main...

Ep 8: Indian links in Indigenous Australian poet Ali Cobby Eckermann’s...

0
  To celebrate NAIDOC week 2020 (between 8-15 November) I spoke to Yakunytjatjara poet Ali Cobby Eckermann about her time in India where she taught...

Ep 7: In the case of Sushant Singh Rajput

0
  The torrid and high-octane Sushant Singh Rajput case has been fodder for Indian people and press for the last few months. The actor’s tragic death...
- Advertisement -

Latest News

shreya kalra

WATCH: Indore influencer dances on road for video, booked by police

0
  A woman who was filmed running across the road to dance at a busy intersection in Indore, Madhya Pradesh has landed in trouble for...

21 burps: it’s modak time as we celebrate Ganesha

0
  “I’m going to burp 21 times,” I would declare to my Ajji, after eating her mouth-watering modaks. Sweetmeat dumplings made with rice flour and some...
virat kohli

Captaincy comes with its own set of challenges

0
  Captaincy! The word itself is so powerful that it can prompt anyone to have an opinion - either for or against it. And when...
Baby Hanuman, Ganesha and Krishna cartoons. Source: Twitter

Play-based experiences to teach your kids about your cultural festival

0
  When you think about celebrating festivals, what is the fondest memory that comes to your mind immediately? For me, it’s definitely the fun, frolic and...
LYN INNES

From an Indian Palace to the Outback: The Last Prince of...

0
  The Last Prince of Bengal is the intriguing true story of one of India’s most powerful royal families. It’s a fascinating tale about Nawab...