Food has always been an integral part of my life since childhood. I find joy in food, especially creating food.
If you rewound my life to a few years ago, you would find me going from job to job. I did not start off in the food industry. It took me some time to realize that I wanted to create a career out of my passion. This is where my heart truly lies but it was definitely not an easy task making that change.
First, I had to break through some obstacles which were the barriers that prevented me from choosing this career in the first place. In our culture, where a job with a higher education is expected, pursuing a career in the kitchen is not easily accepted.
My first job in the food industry was at a fine dining restaurant. There, I learned that the industry is not for the faint of heart. It is cut throat, RUDE, sweaty, hot and borderline violent! But I did not let that stop me. I acknowledged that the best things in life do not come easily. From there, I went from restaurant to restaurant to experience different cuisines and to learn from the best chefs in Toronto. There is a lot more to creating food than meets the eye.
Even through the hardship of facing opposition, I experienced happiness by following my passion. Taking on this career meant working long hours, with very little sleep, a stressful work environment, and spending little time with my family. But all of this was necessary in order to paint the bigger picture.
After gaining as much experience as I could, I wanted to create something of my own. With the knowledge I gained from working in restaurants, I decided to cater to a finer cuisine. With the encouragement and support from my late friend Paul Thavarajah, who himself was a talented artist and businessman, I decided to take the first leap into the catering business.
I wanted to give our community wholesome quality food enriched with a fusion of flavours from different parts of the world. I strongly believe in offering food with natural and healthy ingredients. Especially during a day and age where our food contains harmful and unhealthy ingredients, I think it is important to be able to eat flavourful food without sacrificing quality. Moving forward, I am also aiming to elevate Tamil cuisine to leave a mark on the worldwide industry. I dream of a time where our food will have it’s own identity.
When I made the decision to venture into catering, my wife who loves gardening, offered to grow various kinds of hot peppers for me. These peppers ranged from hot to the hottest peppers in the world. In excess of these peppers, I decided to make hot sauce and offer it to my followers on Instagram who shared the same love for spicy food. Before I knew it, I was getting positive feedback and returning customers.
Since the peppers were only seasonal, I decided to try my hand at making jerk marinade, which I had learned to make on my trip to Jamaica. My love for Jamaican food and jerk chicken had me eager to master this recipe. After trials and taste testing over and over again, I finally got it – that rich authentic jerk flavour I had tasted back in Jamaica!
While making batches of marinade and sauces, I came to realize that there is no such thing as a Tamil marinade that incorporated our spices for barbecuing. After constant experimentation, I perfected a recipe that was on point with our cuisine – Uraippu marinade.
So one after another, I released my products to my returning customers and received more positive response. With this confidence, I decided to take this new venture on and here I am today.
To get to this point in my career, I had to face many challenges. I have a strong support system through my wife and a few close friends who help me get past those difficult times. Through my experience, I learned to stay focused and dismiss negativity. My advice to other is this: do not settle for instant gratification. Once you go that extra mile to do what you love, you will be rewarded with success and much more! I see a lot of passion in today’s Tamil youth. I hope to see them take that leap in faith to follow their dreams to success.