Farmers Market mourns death of happy young friend, father-to-be


Thirty-two-year-old Amit Tandon was killed last week.

He operated Guzzetti’s Catering and Indian Food in Chico, where he was a well-liked and respected businessman, admired for his kindness and his tireless work ethic.

Here in the north state, Tandon had many friends at the Redding Certified Farmers Market, where he sold a variety of Indian and Middle Eastern foods.

He leaves Deepika, his wife. The two married last year. Their first child is expected around December.

Deaths like Tandon’s are the ultimate head-shaker-of-a-freaking-injustice.

Something so horrible and unfair can’t be true.

But of course, it is.

Tandon died last Wednesday night in Chico.

The Chico Enterprise Record reported that 36-year-old Troy Hovey of Chico smashed head-on into Tandon’s catering truck. Hovey is in the Butte County Jail on charges of alleged felony DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter while intoxicated.

But even the strictest conviction of Hovey will not breathe life into Tandon.

I last saw Tandon on July 26 at the Redding Farmers Market. That was my day for a cooking demonstration of Naan Pizza, a recipe I made up as I drove into town that morning.

Maybe you remember when I shared that recipe with you here.

That Saturday I went to the Guzzetti’s Catering and Indian Food booth to buy some naan (Indian flat bread) for the demo.

A crush of customers pressed half-a-dozen across and three deep in front of the Guzzetti’s table, like baby birds clamoring for a feeding.

Amit Tandon was the main attraction. He grinned and laughed as he talked. His hands were a blur as he cut naan and scooped dips and handed samples to the eager crowd.

Here, try this, and oh, try that, and wait, you didn’t get this one, and I think you will really like this one. And another. And another.

Most people’s cupped hands looked like mine: full of thin white napkins stained and heaped with Tandon’s samples. People nodded earnestly, with full mouths turned up at the corners. Mmmm. Good. Very good.

When Tandon wasn’t handing out samples, he was selling.

Tandon laughed when I told him his naan would be featured in the cooking demo.

Naan pizza!

Such a beautiful smile. Such a sweet, open presence. So full of exuberance and energy. So full of laughter and life.

Everyone who knew him at the Redding Certified Farmers Market mourns his death.

Everyone who knew him at Chico’s Thursday Night Market mourns his death.

Everyone who knew him at Paradise’s Wednesday Night Market mourns his death.

Come winter, a tiny part of Amit Tandon will live again.

Godspeed, baby Tandon. And long life.

Doni Chamberlain

Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded A News Cafe in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain holds a Bachelor's Degree in journalism from CSU, Chico. She's an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She's been featured and quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, L.A. Times, Slate. Bloomberg News and on CNN, KQED and KPFA. She lives in Redding, California.

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