Thursday 08 Dec 2022

Jason Almeida brings a slice of Goa to UK via Potyo restaurant

The restaurant has quite a few artefacts from Goa but the highlights are paintings by Goa’s famous caricature artist Mario Miranda in all the dining rooms. Besides many things Goan dishes on the menu, customers get a chance to sip feni in far away land

ARMSTRONG VAZ | SEPTEMBER 23, 2022, 07:47 PM IST
Jason Almeida brings a slice of Goa to UK via Potyo restaurant

LONDON


People of Goa are revered all over the world to be amazing hosts for their guests. Taking care of guests and ensuring they spend the best times of their lives is in the blood of Goans, a trait which has been passed from one generation to another.

To be hospitable is drilled at a very young age to children this is exactly what a young Jason Almeida and his brother Jolan learnt from his Mapusa-born parents.

The Almeida brothers are one of the many Goan brand ambassadors who are keeping the Goan flag high in the hospitality industry.

Doha-based Jolan works as a Food and Beverage Manager for a leading hotel in Qatar while Jason’s UK restaurant Potyo located in the heart of Wilmslow Town Centre welcomes guests to experience the traditional coastal Indian feast with shades of Goa thrown in a large measure.

 “The food is inspired by traditional dishes from Goa, Kerala and Karnataka but over time we will introduce dishes also from the East Coast of India,” says Jason, who studied at the Institute of Hotel Management Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition (IHM), Goa and thereafter started his chef career at the Taj group of hotels in India.

After working for a few years in India and armed with the IHM education and with on-the-job training at the Taj Hotels, the need to explore, travel and learn about the different cuisines and experience them firsthand got the better of Jason.

He returned to Kuwait, where he was born and spent his early childhood as his parents worked for a while in the Middle Eastern country before shifting back to Goa to start a different business. The family-run enterprise included a Chinese restaurant in Mapusa and it was here that Jason got a real feel of the hospitality sector and it was no stopping back.

“The biggest learnings from cruise ships and the Middle East have been working with diverse cultures hence one develops great people management skills from there on,” he reminisces about his sting on land in Kuwait and the cruising industry,

Jason has not looked back since then and now carries a bag load of experience on his shoulders having worked in Miami, USA and London.

“I worked on the cruise ships for 4 years, later was based out of Miami as a travelling chef for 3 years before moving to the UK and working all the way from head chef to director level for various restaurant groups,” says Jason, who runs the restaurant along with his wife Milena.

The name Potyo has a Goan connection, he explains: “Potyo means ‘a greedy boy’ in Konkani, the local language of Goa. Our brand story revolves around our son who is a little Potyo himself and loves his food. The food is inspired currently by the west coast of India.”

Explaining the key role his family has played in his and his brother's forays in the hospitality industry he goes down memory lane.

“As a family, we always liked dining out and since my dad started probably which back in the day was one of Goa’s best Chinese restaurants I never looked back and thought this is the industry I can best thrive in. Growing up in a family that always entertained guests, being hospitable was drilled into us at a very young age,” says the Cheshire resident of 10 years.

The restaurant has quite a few artefacts from Goa but the highlights are paintings by Goa’s famous caricature artist Mario Miranda in all the dining rooms.

Besides many things Goan dishes on the menu, customers get a chance to sip feni in far away land.

“We have introduced flavoured feni’s by Ani Ek which have gone down well (with the customers),'' says Jason, who says there is a massive shortage of chefs in the UK.

Having firmly established his brand he is constantly looking for new opportunities to grow the brand.

“Never give up on your dreams and aspirations. I don’t believe in the word ‘best’ but always strive 'to do better'.”

His advice to aspiring chefs is: “If they have a passion and desire to excel in authentic cooking then I think they can go a long way in the UK.”

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