Here at Spice Road Market, our purpose is to provide foodies with convenient access to global cuisines and foods without compromising on quality. More holistically, we want to empower and make it easy for our growing #SpiceRoadCulture community to prepare and cook their favorite authentic cuisines that tie to nostalgic memories of family, culture, travels or restaurants, and alleviate the frustration that comes with long trips to ethnic food stores or limited product selections from local grocery stores.
In line with our mission, one individual we are excited to highlight is our first Featured Influencer — Chef Shiju Thomas! Shiju Thomas is a talented self-taught home-chef, entrepreneur, and the NY small business owner of CulinaryClique.
Even with the modern reality of more demanding work & life schedules, the millennial generation delaying starting families, and cooking increasingly becoming more of a lost art, it was enthralling to hear how Shiju, a second generation Indian-American, found his passion for cooking. Below is a summary of our interview with him.
Q: What was your inspiration for cooking?
A: “Cooking has always been my biggest passion because of my mother. She taught me everything I know; and as much as it pains me to admit it, she is a much better cook than I am. I found myself helping my mom in the kitchen when I was 3 years old. She would start me off on the simple tasks such as rolling out the dough to make roti and mixing the powder to make puttu. As my curiosity for cooking grew, she eventually entrusted me to carry out more arduous tasks such as cutting onions and mixing vegetables on the stove. From there, my interests developed into a natural talent that has shaped me to be who I am today.”
Q: As a young chef and also the founder of a delicious and health-conscious meal-prep service called CulinaryClique (@culinaryclique). Can you tell us more about what inspired you to start this business and what exciting plans we can expect from your service in the near future?
A: “I get this question a lot, and honestly, I created CulinaryClique because I was tired of people saying that Indian men shouldn’t cook. In our traditional culture, women are the ones who should stay in the kitchen while men should sit at the table and relax. Growing up, I believed in this stereotype since I always saw the women in my life cook when the men sat at the table. As I got older, I wanted all of that to change: I wanted to show the world that we can grow past these cultural stigmas. At first, CulinaryClique started out as a blog, and it was really fun to manage. However, I started getting busier with work and eventually had to enter a temporary hiatus with the project. A year later, I decided to take CulinaryClique to the next level by turning it into an innovative meal prepping service. CulinaryClique is now a small team with great potential to expand. We are hoping to officially launch the business in January 2019. We will personally be setting up meal plans that are specifically catered to the individual’s preferences. Instead of providing the same bland meal every day, we want to add diversity to our particular dietary plans by cooking Indian food, food for gains, and just all-around delicious, hearty food.”
Q: Food, in particular, is a cherished, unifying experience with strong ties to family memories, cultural backgrounds & identities. What’s your favorite food-related memory?
A: “Growing up Indian, I loved Indian food. I loved whenever my mom made appam and chicken curry because it was a twice-a-year specialty. My mom only made it for Easter and Christmas. But that dish was not the most special thing my mom made. Her Thanksgiving dinner is something I still cherish to this day because she broke away from her social norm in order to let me grow up with the American custom. She wanted to give me the opportunity to share stories with my friends about Thanksgiving without ever feeling left out. Her dedication and unconditional love for her son is what encouraged me to break away from the social norm: I want to show that Indian guys also belong in the kitchen. We hope CulinaryClique can relay that message to the world with excellence and phenomenal food. So enjoy!”
We hope you enjoyed learning more about our Featured Chef. We can’t wait to show you all the exciting content Spice Road Market and CulinaryClique has saved for our awesome followers. Make sure to check Chef Shiju Thomas out on his social media platforms (listed below) and remember to stay tuned!
And of course, a little self-promotion