This week’s guests: Martha Hoover & Chef Nira Kehar.
Having never waited tables, never cooked professionally or in any way worked in a restaurant, Martha Hoover has created a successful group of dining establishmentsâ€”Cafes Patachou, Petite Chou by Patachou, Napolese Artisanal Pizzeria and Wine Bar, GELO Dolce Bar, Public Greens Urban Kitchen Garden and Grill and Patatruck Mobile Patachou Kitchen. The restaurants reflect her lifelong passion for food and ingredients of excellent quality, as well as a joie de vie. All the concepts are cherished neighborhood destinations, serving dishes made with the highest quality ingredients in the freshest preparation methods possible. Their walls are filled with art, music floats above the buzz of the diners and an urban energy reverberates that is the direct result of her vision.
When Hoover opened Café Patachou, her goal was to prepare the best “simple” food using high quality ingredients. This was quite a novel approach in 1989. Vendors said that it was a mistake to roast our own meat and make homemade bread because cheaper, yet inferior, alternatives were available. The standard in the local industry deemed that strict quality standards were not necessary for success in this market. Immediately, customers noted the difference between Café Patachou and other breakfast/ lunch restaurants and that has been the key to the success of the entire company. Patachou, Inc. has purposefully grown slowly over the past twenty years. Hoover is a hands-on owner who is truly active in the business assuring the adherence to exacting standards and attention to every detail.
“I grew up with this family mantra that all the great food in the world starts and ends in New York.” [04:00]
“I don’t think I told our story enough early enough. It just didn’t strike a chord with enough people.” [09:00]
–Martha Hoover on Radio Cherry Bombe
Born and raised in Montreal, Nira Kehar’s culinary adventures began with imbibing her mother’s skills in the kitchen. She traded a career in engineering to train at the prestigious ITHQ (Institut de Tourisme et d’HÃ´tellerie du Québec), Canada’s premier culinary institute. Chapter three was moving to India six years ago, where she began to give life to her creative vision (preceded by a grueling few months in the Maurya Kitchens).
Driven by her desire to please and excite the palate, Chef Nira’s approach combines fresh, seasonal produce with a range of global cooking techniques, loved by the food community and critics alike. This year, along with the James Beard foundation event, she is busy experimenting and evolving her sister brand, Atelier Nini.
“I’m privileged in that the worst thing that ever happened to me is the best thing that ever happened to me.” [27:00]
“Food is like a living organism it has its own moods and freaky things that happen to it.” [33:00]
–Nira Kehar on Radio Cherry Bombe