Thursday 30 May 2024

From spice mixes to classes, Goan chef makes it big in London

Emma Ryan has her own food blog and Goan spice mixes, conducts Goan cooking classes, has a Goan Supperclub and caters to private functions providing modern twists on Goan cuisine

LUI GODINHO | APRIL 12, 2024, 10:57 PM IST
From spice mixes to classes, Goan chef makes it big in London

LONDON

To say Emma Ryan has a hectic schedule as a Goan chef in London is an understatement.

Not only does Emma have her own food blog and creates her own range of Goan spice mixes, she also conducts Goan cooking classes, has a Goan Supperclub and even caters to private functions providing modern twists on Goan cuisine. And there’s even more planned in the near future.

What’s interesting is that Emma trained as a chef only five years ago.

“I began teaching myself Goan food in the lockdown and immersing myself in everything I could find related to Goan cuisine. Since then, I have set up a business centred around Goan food which is growing from strength to strength,” said Emma.

“I first set up a food blog called ‘Yesterday’s Curry’ available as an email newsletter on the platform Substack. In November 2021, I created my own range of Goan spice mixes, selling them to the general public via my website and social media.”

Emma Ryan teaching a corporate cooking class at Mission Kitchen in Battersea-London.

Emma admitted that while she had grown up eating Goan food, both at home and at family functions, she had never visited Goa as a child. 

“So once the pandemic and travel restrictions were over, I started to plan my first and long awaited trip,” said Emma.

THE GOA EXPERIENCE

In late January 2023, alongside her school friend as a travel companion, Emma visited Goa for the trip of a lifetime, both as a way to finally connect with her heritage and to conduct research for her business. 

“My trip to Goa was an amazing experience; I met lots of family for the very first time, even walking around the house my grandmother grew up in in Betalbatim. It was lovely to be able to put together the family tree and discover so many of my mum’s cousins and their children who I had only spoken to before on WhatsApp in the build up to my trip,” said Emma.

Whilst in Goa, Emma got to savour traditional Goan food at a number of restaurants, bakeries and houses. 

Emma Ryan at the Mr Baker 1922 Bakery in Panaji-Goa.


“Some of my personal highlights include the exquisite meal at Palácio do Deão in Quepem, Cavatina by Avinash Martins in Benaulim, a delightful Saraswat meal cooked by Shubhra Shankhwalker aka “Goa from Home”, a wonderful event called ‘Feast in the Fields’ hosted at the Cazulo Feni distillery and catered by The Goan Kitchen and the wonderful pastries at Mr Baker 1922 and Confeitaria 31 de Janeiro in Panaji,” acknowledged Emma.

“Eating so much traditional Goan food with the freshest and tastiest local ingredients filled me with ideas for my own endeavours back in London. Even though I had eaten plenty of Goan food back in the UK, the local Goan produce, especially the local fish made every meal all the more delicious.”

“Everyone I met in Goa was so hospitable and friendly and I made many friends on my trip who I had been introduced to via social media beforehand. Many Goan locals helped me to seek out local food spots for my research and they really went above and beyond to ensure I had the best experience.”

BACK IN LONDON

On returning to the UK, Emma was inspired by her trip and was full of ideas. 

“My favourite part of Goa was Fontainhas. I absolutely loved the architecture, and thanks to the tour company ‘Soul Travelling’, I had the chance to go on so many food tours of the capital and soak in the atmosphere and charm,” said Emma. 

“As soon as I got back to London I began to start working more on my spice business and I redesigned my spice tins to reflect the vibrant colour of Fontainhas. A few months later, my spice tins caught the attention of a buyer from world renowned department store Selfridges, and now my range of Goan spices (Goan Curry Masala, Xacuti and Vindaloo) is stocked exclusively in the flagship store.” 

Emma Ryan has redesigned spice tins which reflect the vibrant colours of Fontainhas-Panaji.


“Another exciting development with my business was being invited by my Alma Mater Leiths Schools of Food & Wine, where I had trained as a chef, to teach my own Goan cooking class as a guest chef. Alongside celebrity chefs such as the likes of Indian chef Atul Kocchar, I am now one of only a handful of chefs who have been invited to teach their own class at Leiths.”

This year, Emma has also begun to bring Goan food even more to the London food scene. 

“In September 2023, I hosted my first Goan Supperclub at a wine bar in my local neighbourhood of Dulwich and have recently started catering private functions providing modern twists on Goan cuisine,” said Emma.

“In the coming months, I will be doing a massive rebrand of my business, with a new name, a new look and introducing for the first time a ready to simmer Goan curry sauce in a jar, with many exciting other products to follow.” 

“My aim for 2024 is to use everything I have learned over the last couple of years and my trip to Goa to create a cutting edge food brand centring around Goan products and dining. I am also in the process of pitching a Goan cookbook to publishers in the UK and will be planning another trip to Goa in January 2025.”




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