When Asif Fazal's family moved to Orlando from New York, it initiated a series of events the 13-year-old couldn't possibly have envisioned. For one, his father left the printing business in favor of opening an Indian restaurant, and Fazal ended up helping out wherever he could, be it greeting guests or doing prep duties. When he settled at the tandoor station, "the heart of the kitchen," says Fazal, he learned the ways of the tandoori marinade and the time-honored method of baking chicken in a cylindrical clay oven. "There was something about how all the ingredients came together in a simple yet complementing arrangement that fascinated me."
Soon after Fazal left for college, his father was diagnosed with cancer, and he left school: "I decided my place was to be back home." When his father passed away in the summer of 2012, it shook his family to the core, but Fazal sought comfort, and support, in the kitchen. "Food was what we came to know and love," he says, "and I came to understand the passion my father had for bringing authentic flavors and excellent service to our guests." And Fazal's Fresh Dabba delivery operation, which draws inspiration from the dabbawallas who transport fresh-cooked meals to homes and offices across the Indian subcontinent, does just that. "It takes me back to when it all started, 15 years ago in front of that tandoor."