Growing up, childhood best friends Rahul Vinod and Sahil Rahman noticed that a lot of their friends either hadn’t tried Indian food or had misperceptions about it. “We’d regularly hear stuff like ‘I don’t like curry!’ and ‘Isn’t it all spicy?,’ he says. “It confused us because there’s an incredible diversity of flavor and heat profiles across India.”
The friends realized that it wasn’t that all these friends didn’t like Indian food, they just hadn’t been introduced to it properly. In high school, the young men began dreaming of opening a restaurant, writing a business plan for the idea and winning a small business competition in the process. “We went to college, graduated, and did the whole corporate rat race thing for a few years in New York,” says Vinod, “but this vision kept coming back to us, and we knew we had to bring it to life.” So they took the leap, quit their jobs, and opened RASA.
Join us on Friday, September 15 and 7PM Moscow time to hear more from Rahul Vinod about his journey to bring the authentic flavors of Indian cuisine to skeptical American diners. Bring your curiosity and your questions!
About AMC’s Potluck Series
AMC recently launched Potluck, a monthly series featuring celebrated American chefs, farmers, food critics, food security experts, and culinary masters from around the country. The new series promises to foster a deeper appreciation of the rich and diverse food culture in the United States.
About RASA & Rahul
Rahul Vinod grew up in the restaurant industry as the son of one of the nation’s prominent Indian chefs. As a child, Rahul continuously saw a number of barriers to trying Indian food for most Americans. This unique upbringing led him to partner with childhood best friend, Sahil Rahman, to fulfill a lifelong dream of sharing the Indian flavors they grew up loving in a more approachable way. They opened RASA in 2018 and though the name initially came to them as a mash-up (RA-hul and SA-hil), the friends learned that “rasa” in Sanskrit also translates into “essence of enjoyment” in English. The perfect name for a restaurant!
RASA was named “Best New Restaurant” and “Best Fast Casual Restaurant” by Washington City Paper in 2018 and “Best Concept Mid-Atlantic” by Starchefs in 2022. Vinod was also named one of Eater’s “Young Guns” (future leaders in the restaurant world) in 2018 and was the recipient of the 2021 Rising Terp* Award (a distinction given by his alma mater, the University of Maryland, to honor alumni under 30 who have distinguished themselves personally and professionally). Vinod’s support of the community throughout the COVID-19 pandemic led him to be recognized as a “Thrillist Local Hero” and a “Local Changemaker” by the Washington City Paper.
Vinod received his B.S. in finance and operations management from the University of Maryland’s Robert H. Smith School of Business. He enjoys traveling and eating his way around the world. When not in the restaurant, he can often be found on a squash court or the golf course.
*Terp is short for “terrapin,” a diamondback turtle native to the Chesapeake Bay, which serves as the University of Maryland’s mascot.
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