About a year ago, Thomas Zacharias, the former executive chef of The Bombay Canteen, hung up his chef’s coat to embark on the next chapter of his professional journey: “Currently, I’m trying to figure out how to make a deeper impact in the food system,” says the chef who is on the move every few months. He has travelled across India for more that seven years to research recipes and regional culinary practices that are meticulously documented on his Instagram page @chefTZac. As with most of us, Mumbai-based Zacharias is working out of his home, from his living room that has over 100 books and 100 plants. He speaks to Lounge about how he's built a creative cocoon, which stimulates both his exploratory mind as well as his methodical approach to food.
Describe your current workspace to us.
Incidentally, the lockdown and the last 10 months coincided with my decision to step away from a commercial kitchen and work from home.
Thankfully, when I set up this apartment about four years ago, I had the foresight to design it in a way that felt like a sanctuary where my ideas could flow. The living room pans out into the kitchen and there's a lot of natural light coming in through a window next to it. There was a wall between the two rooms which was brought down to have uninterrupted access to my cooking. There’s a nice big library behind the seating area and the whole space is interspersed with souvenirs from my travels. There are maroon floor tiles and lots of wood. It is infused with the kind of energy which is conducive to who I am as a person.
What’s in your library?
There are close to 100 books which I have collected for more than 20 years. My grandma used to carefully cut recipes from old magazines, and she bound them into these big volumes of cookbooks with recipes that go back to the 1960s. There’s a lot of history and vibrancy to this space, which I resonate with.
How would you define your daily relationship with this space?
I spend a lot of time here regardless because this is my living room. When I am done with work in the evening, it transitions into a relaxed space, and when there are friends over, I entertain them here. I know it's not encouraged to have your office area double-up as your space to socialise and unwind, but it kind of works for me.
Have you had any eureka moments here?
Just about 10 feet away from the living room is my kitchen where I conceived a lot of ideas for my cooking videos, which were posted on my Instagram feed during the lockdown. People really engaged with them and they got quite popular.
If you were to trade this place for another what would it be?
I love to work out of coffee shops too. The idea of having people around with the noise and bustle of a cafe also helps me thrive.