Palo Alto High School's News and Features Publication

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Verde Magazine

Turning up the heat with Bobo: Inside a student chef’s rise to success

Lara Saslow
DISH ON DISPLAY — Shashi holds up a freshly made plate of chicken shawarma. “His meals are the perfect price for such high quality, great tasting food,” Paly freshman Justin Fung said.

On a warm spring afternoon, the sun beats down in the backyard of Palo Alto High School junior Shreyas Shashi, while a spicy and smoky aroma fills the air and chicken sizzles on the grill. 

On a Friday afternoon when most students would be relaxing and enjoying the warm weather, Shashi and his friends are hard at work preparing the next wave of meals that his customers will soon be ready to indulge in. 

While relatively new, Shashi’s cooking has quickly gained recognition from the Paly community. Known as Chef Bobo, Shashi cooks small batches of meals including chicken wings, mac-and-cheese, and chicken enchiladas, then sells them through social media to students, parents and others in the community. He has already served more than 80 meals to his customers, and has drawn rave reviews.

Shashi’s love for cooking started at a young age, in the kitchen with his mom and grandmother. Shashi started taking cooking classes in fifth grade, gradually working his way up to more complicated recipes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic was when Shashi began cooking regularly. 

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 “Seventh-grade quarantine, I’m in there, I have nothing else to do, so then I started cooking,” Shashi said. “I cook a lot and I was bored so I started posting it [pictures of his food on social media].”

For the next few years, Shashi said he continued to post about his cooking, work on his cooking skills, and work on the presentation of his dishes. Just recently, a small shopping error led to his popularity today.

 “Probably two months ago, I was going to try making wings, and I accidentally bought too big of a pack,” Shashi said. “I didn’t want to go to waste, so I had my friends come over. They were like ‘Yo, these are crazy.’ So then I made more and I was like, ‘We should start selling them.’”

It’s the perfect price for such high-quality, great-tasting food.

— Justin Fung, Paly freshman

Shashi sells his food creations to Paly students and parents, allowing customers to order and select a time slot to pick up their food from his home, where Shashi does all his cooking. He generally starts posting about upcoming meals the same day he’s making them, or the day before.

Shashi mainly markets his business through his well-known Instagram account, “Chef Bobo,” (chefbobo_) where he posts pictures of his food creations and updates on what meal he is cooking next, urging customers to place their orders.

The community also helps spread the word about Shashi’s cooking.

“I use Instagram for the most part, and it’s growing a lot,” Shashi said. “That and word of mouth. Word of mouth is the main thing.”

Paly freshman Justin Fung has tried Shashi’s chicken wings, chicken enchiladas, and breakfast burritos, and is one of the people who has spread the word about Shashi’s cooking.

“I have been recommending people to go to Chef Bobo [Shashi] any time someone asks about good food,” Fung said. “Just hit up Chef Bobo. I have promoted it through social media as well.”

Shashi said customers can send a direct message to order a meal through Instagram. Due to his increased popularity in the Paly community, customers must act fast to reserve a meal.

Even though his business is now well-established in the community, Shashi said that since starting this service, he has been open to experimenting with new recipes, although he still has his favorites.

“I’m trying to perfect the wings and mac-and-cheese because that’s something that every person likes,” Shashi said. 

Regardless of the recipe, according to Nicholas Feitzinger, a junior who helps Shashi cook, Shashi tries to use high-quality ingredients from local grocery stores like Costco. 

“Shreyas is really big on making sure he uses high-quality ingredients by trying to avoid things like seed oils and over-processed foods,” Feitzinger said. “He does a great job with this because he doesn’t cut corners and makes nearly everything from scratch.”

Even though the quality of Shashi’s food is high, his prices aren’t. According to Shashi, the cost of a meal is around 10 dollars, depending on the dish.  

“His prices for each dish depending on the size and type of food are completely reasonable,” Fung said. “They’re not insanely cheap but not overpriced. It’s the perfect price for such high-quality, great-tasting food.”

What I’m benefiting from is putting a smile on people’s faces.

— Shreyas Shashi, Paly junior

Even with his low food prices, Shashi said that he isn’t worried it will limit his profits, instead focusing on what he can bring to the community.

“I want to have a place where there’s affordable food,” Shashi said. “I’m barely making a profit. … I’m not benefiting much from it. What I’m benefiting from is putting a smile on people’s faces.”