Q&A with Asha Gomez of Spice Route Supper Club
ATL Food Chatter: January 24, 2011
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Last October, Asha Gomez began dazzling intimate groups with her culinary skills at a series of gatherings dubbed Spice Route Supper Club
, featuring the unique cuisine of her native state in India, Kerala. The Spice Route Supper Club experience is part of the expanding supper club movement here in Atlanta that allows chefs to do some creative cooking outside the constraints of a restaurant setting. Ms. Gomez, who recently filmed a short video
about the supper club, shared the origins of her concept and some her plans for its growth and development:
Q: Where did the idea for Spice Route Supper Club originate?
AG: I was in the spa industry for twenty years, here and in New York. At the Neem Tree Spa, which I ran on Atlanta’s Westside, I would frequently cook meals for clients after their ayurvedic treatments. Some eventually came just for the food! After the spa closed [at the end of 2008], I found what I missed most was sharing the dishes I grew up cooking. The supper club seemed a personalized way for me to begin sharing these foods with a wider audience. Cooking for a crowd comes easy to me. I grew up in a communal home in Kerala, where I learned from my mother and her three sisters. And then my mother and I moved to New York when I was 16. She ran a catering company, offering traditional Kerala foods, and I cooked alongside her.
Q: What exactly defines Kerala cuisine?
Kerala sits on the southwestern most tip of India, surrounded by oceans. It has been a major port along the Asian-European-African spice routes for centuries, and many diverse cultural influences—Dutch, Portuguese, French, British, Arab—have been absorbed into the culture. So we have a strong Christian community (which eats beef and pork), Jewish, and Muslim cultures there, as well as the traditionally vegetarian Hindu community. Many of our dishes are rich with coconut milk, we make breads out of the abundant rice crops, and of course we have a wealth of seafood dishes—including smoky, sweet, and sour variations on fish curries. Much of our food is fragrant with curry leaves, mustard seeds, ginger, garlic, and chiles.
Q: What’s next for the supper club?
We’re partnering with Dinner Party Atlanta
to hold an event we’re calling “An Evening In Kerala
,” featuring a twenty-one-course vegetarian feast along with traditional music and dancing on February 18. You eat this meal with your hands, and the food is very sensuous—perfect for a fun (only slightly belated) Valentine’s outing. Beyond that, I’ll continue to dream up menus from Kerala that I remember and also research.
Q: What Atlanta Indian restaurants do you like?
AG: For Northern Indian cuisine, I love Chat Patti on North Druid Hills, and for Southern Indian cuisine, I love Saravana Bhavan on Lawrenceville Highway.
Photo Credit: Bhavini Patel
NEWS AND NOTES:Zagat
has named the Vortex’s Super Stack Heart Attack Burger one its” 10 Worst Burger Ideas”.
The AJC ran an interesting article about a micro-brewery project that will add to the growing craft brewing movement in Atlanta.
Avondale Estates. Speaking of artisan brews, Wild Heaven Craft Beers leased a space near MARTA for a brewery the owners hope to have open for tours and tastings by mid-2012.
The AJC reports that Pine Street Market won an award for their PSM Coppa in the charcuterie category at the Good Foods Awards held last week in San Francisco.
Buckhead. Creative Loafing hears that Bluepointe Chef Jeff Torburg is departing from his post to helm his own resto, slated to open “sometime this year.”
What Now Atlanta
is reporting that metro Atlanta’s fourth Genghis Grill is slated to open in the former Blockbuster space in the Brookwood Square Shopping center.
named Restaurant Eugene as one of America’s Top 40 restaurants for 2011.
Buford Highway. Cafe 101 has closed.
. Atlanta Cuisine
is reporting that Chef Peter Golaszewski has left the Feed Store to become corporate chef at Taco Mac and is being replaced by his sous chef, Cooper Miller.
Decatur. Gayot.com named Sprig as one the 2011 Top 40 Cheap Eats in America.
Inman Park. Sotto Sotto will begin the celebration of its twelfth anniversary on Thursday January 27 with 12 monthly dinners featuring wines from 12 different regions of Italy.
Hall’s of Fine Wines is closing is closing Saturday January 29, a final celebration will be held Friday, January 28 from 7-9pm.
Westside. Bacchanalia was voted the top rated Atlanta restaurant by the 2011 Zagut survey.
Question of the Week: What Atlanta restaurant celebrated its 63rd year in business last month?
PS. The answer to last week’s QOTW—What is the Chinese restaurant (that is not Peter Chang’s) that has foodies buzzing about its hot-and-numbing Sichuan dishes?—is Gu’s Bistro.