“Grandpa Kitchen” chef who became huge hit on Youtube

Born: 1946;

Died: October 27, 2019

NARAYANA Reddy, who has died aged 73, was not your average on-screen chef. Firstly, he was not on TV, but on YouTube - his younger family members had seen his potential and realized that online was the way to go.

Secondly, he had no ego. Thirdly, he cooked not for gourmets but for orphans in his native India.

Fourthly, he wore a white Hindu dhoti and short kurta reminiscent of the great peacemaker Mahatma Gandhi.

And finally, he did not cook for a middle-class family of four but concocted mega-portions in a giant pot, on a woodfire he started himself, and stirred his food with what looked like a large rowing oar in the middle of a field on his farm.

Mr Reddy was unknown outside his region until two years ago, a simple and content cattle and crops farmer. When he died, however, “Grandpa Kitchen” – his YouTube moniker - had six million regular followers worldwide and on one occasion had 38 million views when he cooked tens of thousands of crispy French fries for starving orphans.

Mr Reddy – Grandpa Kitchen – was the polar opposite of your Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver. He did not swear like a trooper, nor did he talk about “chucking some of these little bad boys (chilli peppers?)" into his recipes. In fact, he rarely talked at all, just giggled with delight, twirled his impressive white moustache or sucked on a home-grown watermelon as he threw his fresh, home-grown ingredients into a gigantic bowl big enough to feed an army.

In a sense, he did feed an army: an army of orphans around his hometown of Hyderabad in the state of Telangana, southern India. He and his family scooped healthy portions from his giant pot, put them in foil containers and delivered them to orphans or the homeless.

He didn’t just cook Indian dishes such as chicken biryani but also “foreign” meals from pizza to burgers to chips and on to giant chocolate cakes. He even created his own version of KFC.

Mr Reddy liked to tell “his” orphans his lifelong motto: Loving. Sharing. Caring. His videos show that when the orphans got their meals, they first hesitated, thanked him, then opened the containers, looked at the food somewhat guiltily then devoured it increasingly-rapidly with their fingers, the best eating utensils known to mankind. As they ate, they smiled and laughed as they had not done for quite a while. In a sense, Mr Reddy became something of a Grandpa to them all.

Narayana Reddy was born in the Hyderabad area of southern India in 1946, just as the British colonialist and racist Raj was inevitably collapsing. He maintained his cattle and crops farm all his life, becoming known for feeding not only his large extended family, but also neighbours, using only his own produce.

He had no idea what YouTube was when, in August 2017, younger members of his family suggested a way he could use his gift to help the starving in the city. They began to film him cooking from a giant wood-fired pot among his cattle.

With the help of other local farmers, they gathered 2,000 fresh eggs which Mr Reddy and his family slowly shelled, scrambled in the big pot, stuffed into foil containers and rushed to the area’s grateful homeless.

After Mr Reddy’s death, South African resident Safiyia Stanfley, wrote on Facebook: “Grandpa, you not only touched the hearts of your community but the hearts of the world. What an inspiration you have been, may we all aspire to be like you and do what you did. RIP.” Anna Tyson from Alabama posted, “Rest In Peace Grandpa! I smiled every time I heard his laugh at the beginning of the videos. He loved a lot of people through his food. Rest on, Sir.”

Mr Reddy’s grand-nephew Srikanth Reddy told CNN: “We used to have jobs in the city and would visit him during the holidays and he would always make big meals for us … we then got the idea that we should do the same for the community." As the Grandpa Kitchen YouTube Channel gained followers around the world, younger members of the family vowed to keep up “Grandpa’s” work. Several gave up their jobs to continue the project.

Sarayana Reddy died after a series of lung infections. He is survived by his extended family.