For those of us who love food, learning what goes into a chef’s vision and menu is incredibly inspiring. When I was invited to meet Akasha Richmond, who’s self-named restaurant lies in the heart of Culver City, I was ecstatic to pick her brain about the colorful and vibrant menu she’s created.
The first time I dined at (and with) Akasha, it was a sensory experience. The color, the flavor, and the intention with her dishes amazed me. I walked out satisfactorily full, and very curious about her Indian-inspired roots of cooking. Guests at Akasha know her personally, and that creates an incredibly communal dining experience.
So, when we arrived one Thursday morning to hang out with her, it did not surprise me in the slightest that Akasha welcomed us into her restaurant warmly, as though she were inviting us into her home. Meeting with her feels just like that. She’s open about her style in the kitchen and loves bringing people into her story. I had to hear more.
Akasha began cooking at ten years old. Food was familial — her grandmother and mother both loved the kitchen — and so in their footsteps she followed, beginning humbly with a cookbook and baking cookies, because she thought it was fun. Along with her love of food, she was always passionate about the arts, and later went to college to study art.
In her early 20s, Akasha went to India to study, cook and study some more. When she came back to LA, she did so with the realization that she wanted to bring Indian food back to the States in a healthy, holistic way. While working at a vegetarian restaurant, Askasha met, believe it or not, Michael Jackson. He later convinced her to become his private chef. In 2006, she published her first cookbook, Hollywood Dish, and has continued to develop a name for herself in the culinary world. As an incredibly vibrant person with such a love for food, Akasha takes her passion for India and makes it accessible for everyone.
As an incredibly vibrant person with such a love for food, Akasha takes her passion for India and makes it accessible for everyone.
Sitting back in her newly opened restaurant, Akasha pours out different curries and gives us a tutorial of the various flavors that she uses in her dishes. She tells us about the history, knowledge and generations that go into each curry. She tells us that Westerners often think that curry is a spice, but no she says, “it’s a dish!”
She is proud of her food, proud of her creations, and wants to bring us into everything — every experience and every taste.
Akasha’s love of Indian and her desire to make it accessible led her to the concept of Sambar, a new restaurant that opened June 1st in LA. Putting a lighter spin on traditional Indian dining, Sambar takes flavors from all over India and brings them to life in an easy, down-to-earth Culver City spot.
For Akasha, it seems she has found the rhythm of doing what she loves, and remaining a constant learner of her craft. For her, food is an adventure and a journey, one that can always be traveled and explored. She’s found the richness in loving something deeply while inviting others to join in that passion right along side her.
One of Akasha’s favorite LA-based Indian shops? Samosa House.
Images via Christin Rose