Transgender chef hopes to break barriers
Riding on his food truck, Chef Chris Trapani is on a five-city tour in India to spread the message of #purelove for food and transgenders.
Our 'diverse' nation is still not entirely comfortable with transgenders. Most people are uncomfortable with the idea of same-sex attraction; many make fun of it, and some are completely ignorant about their existence. But Chef Chris Trapani believes that, with time, things will change for this particular section of the Indian society.
Chris is the first transgender Chef to appear on the Food Network in the United States and currently, he is on a five-city tour in India under The Lalit Suri Hospitality Group's mission of spreading the message of #purelove.
A globally celebrated authority in Tex-Mex Food, Trapani has already covered Delhi and Bangalore. Now, he, along with his food truck, will transit to Kolkata for January 15-16 and then to Mumbai for January 17 and 18.
With this tour, The Lalit group is trying to serve dual purpose at the same time i.e., spreading awareness about food trucks and skill development of the transgender community. For the same goal, Chef Trapani, who has been an inspiration to numerous LGBTQ was called in from Texas.
Chris didn't transition until he was 30. He already had a good job and a settled-life but he never let the fear of losing a well-paying job and shame control his life. "I was worried and scared that I was going to lose my job because my corporate office was in Alabama, which is a state that is not as advanced and inclusive as other states. But I opened up anyway because I didn't care what people would think about me. And it worked out really well. Everybody respected me even more. In fact, my catering company didn't want me to leave when they decided to take off," shared Trapani, the first transgender chef.
"The only time I ever really had any difficulty is when the Food Network show came on. I received two hate mails. One guy wrote, 'why did you have to talk about being a transgender on the show, it's about food and not gay people'. So, I wrote back to him and said, 'well, you found out about it didn't you, that's the whole point of the show – learning about new things'. It turned into a heated argument. I also got another mail which was beyond ignorant. I can't respond to someone that stupid. That was the last time it happened," he added.
He agrees with Chef Gusteau and quotes from Ratatouille, "Anyone can cook". He believes that if given the right opportunity, transgenders might even turn out to be better than any other person performing the same job, but at the same time, he feels "sad because trans people normally don't feel included."
"Seeing something like what the Lalit Group is doing is very empowering for trans people and it's very educational for nontransgender people. When stubborn, old-fashioned people, see things taking a turn like this, they will feel like hopping on this train. They will feel that if one respected company can do it, then why should we stay behind. This gives trans people a hope that there is a place for them to work; there are people that want me around and I am equal to anybody else that works there," asserted Trapani.
With years of experience in catering, Chris could have easily opened a restaurant but he found food trucks to be much cheaper and easier. Presently, he owns over 1500 food trucks in Austin, Texas.
Now that he is in India, the country famous for its lip-smacking street food, he hopes that Indian people become a little bit more receptive towards food trucks. "I know that India is famous for its variety of street food. Food trucks are basically street food, so why can't these trucks become popular too. In my opinion, food trucks can even be better then the little carts in terms of hygiene and variety. You can't find a sink in those carts, how are they washing their hands? But in a food truck, you can have a sink; it's like a mini restaurant," he said.
Would he be interested in opening a food truck here?
"What I would like to do here is work more with Mr. Suri, the executive director of the Lalit Group, and help his food truck movement. Somebody has already asked me to come back for the pride month, let's see if I would be able to do that. It's a long flight from Texas but I would love to come back even if I have to run between changing my flights."