It's time again to take a closer look at another chef who spends his days cooking away in our kitchen. Naveen Bachani is the creator behind Vada Pow, we had a chat with him to find out more about the man behind the brand
Why did you decide to become a chef and what age was it at?
My background is actually in catering at Shannon college of hotel management. In our first year it was based around more operational aspects, which includes the kitchen of course which I worked most in when on placement. I thought at that point cooking was something I might explore but I hadn’t decided at that point that it was what I wanted to do. So, after 10 years of college and working in the food industry back in India I decided to pursue a food business.
Did you have any formal training?
No I didn’t, I am not a culinary chef but I do have basic training in kitchen skills from my college placement as I had the experience of working in all areas of the hotel from cleaning toilets and making beds to cooking food
How did you end up coming to Ireland?
I came first in 2001 until 2005 when I went back home and worked in India until Christmas 2015 when I came back to Ireland to start my food business Va Da Pow.
What is your favourite cuisine to cook?
Fusion cooking definitely! Sometimes it sounds gross but combining things like italian cooking with indian if it is done right can taste really nice. A little bit of fusion is good but probably not dishes like a curry spaghetti!
Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
I don’t admire just one chef, I have three that each give me different types of inspiration.
Jamie Oliver, I like his quickness of his cooking, how he can make something look so simple, quick and easy. The second is Vineet Bhatia, he is an Indian chef. His way of simple Indian cooking inspires me most. Gordon Ramsey is the third, I admire his leadership skills and how he gets things done.
If you weren't a chef what would you have been?
Working as an accountant. In school in India accounting was one of my subjects and was the one that I liked most.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Va Da Pow of course! -(Naveens own brand)
What is your top cooking tip for home chefs?
Get a proper balance. In any kind of cooking that uses a lot of ingredient like Indian, Italian or Spanish cuisine it’s really important to get a good balance of spices and the ingredients. It’s all about tasting along the way to make sure the balance to get the end result.
is right and keep it simple because sometimes trying to make something complex can completely ruin the dish.
We have some amazing businesses here in Newmarket that we love to rave about but, we also have some great individual characters who work for them with amazing stories and a passion for food that we want to share with you guys!
Up first is Piush, one of the chefs that fills our kitchen with laughter on a daily basis. We threw a few questions his way to learn a bit more about his past in the kitchen, his biggest kitchen disaster and what trends he sees emerging in the foodie world.
Why did you become a chef and what age was it at?
I decided to become a chef because I wanted to travel the world and that was the best way. I decided when I was like 16. The best way to travel the world was by being a chef, because with other jobs you need to be able to do lots of different things, but as a chef it was easy to travel and work so that’s what my motivation was.
Where and how were you trained?
I had training in India in Delhi, I studied hotel management.
How did you end up coming to Ireland?
I just applied to for a job, It was in Carrick on Shannon. I didn’t like it…. So I left after two months! It was too small for me!
How has training in india influenced your cooking?
Training in india was very different, so when I first left india I went to cruise ships first. In india its very different like the quality of food also the way you cook food, the tastes and the palate’s is completely different so that was very interesting to see how everywhere the palate’s are completely different. So it was a different form of training.
What’s been your best experience in the cheffing world to date?
Me? I don’t like cheffing! I told you the best experience was just to travel around and it pays the bills! (Piush laughs)
What’s your biggest kitchen disaster?
I was doing private catering for a bank in the national gallery of Ireland, for a christmas due and the kitchen didn't work. The equipment was very old, it was a big function and everyone was sitting down, i had everything prepared but it didn't go well as there was extra people. I didn't anticipate them going for duck rather than steak, on top of that the kitchen was two floors above the 120 people it was next to impossible.
Is there a chef you admire most?
If you weren’t a chef what would you have been?
I like travelling or id like to work in IT. I’d really like to see some ways that IT could help food. Its one of my passions.
What’s your favourite type of food to cook?
I just like simple food, like bistro style food so I like chicken wings, burgers so those are my favourites.
If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be?
Lentils, I love lentils. The thing is my parents are vegetarian and I grew up on lentils. The best thing is that there is not only one kind, so you can make 5 to 8 different types.
What is your top cooking tip?
What do you think will be the next big food trend?
I think it will be more specialised, as you can see high end burgers, speciality fish but they will be specific with no more broad menus. In Ireland i have noticed the pub menu hasn't changed in the last 10 years, the same with hotel menus. So it's the small restaurants that start coming which will be more more based on specialising in a few specific foods such as high end burgers.
Vada Pow owner Naveen Bachani has taken comfort food from the streets of Bombay to the supermarkets of Dublin. Vada Pow’s lightly spiced potato patties bring street style food to the dinner table. The patties are made using Irish potatoes, resulting in a product that can be eaten as flavoursome bites, burgers or as part of a meal with family. Vada Pow certainly delivers a flavoursome punch to the potato patty world! We caught up with owner Naveen to ask some questions about running a business, his greatest moments with the business and his plans for the future.
When did you set up your business?
What prompted you to start your business?
Gap in the vegetarian market and bringing street style food in Indian category which was occupied by curries and bhajis. I thought to introduce range of Bombay style street food.
What is your USP, how did you decide to market it ?
My products are First time introduced in Retail and Foodservice market in Ireland, they are wheat free, meat free and just happens to be vegan too!
What has been your greatest moment since starting up?
Greatest moment is to see my product in Supermarket shelves sharing a space with multinational and big brands and they stand out!
Have you some tips that you think would help someone starting off a food business ?
Think on versatility and convenience. Try all the areas of market and watch where is the more penetration is happening and then invest more (time, energy and money).
What would you do differently?
Our products should be seen as. "Must have vegetarian product"
Do you have any future plans in place?
Expansion in Retail segment and export opportunities.
Where can we find your products?
We are in foodservice and retail market. You can find us in the menu of Croke park Hotel, Yacht pub and in Supervalu (Killester, Raheny, Rathgar, Ranelagh, Talbot Street, Palmerstown, Kimmage Sundrive, Walkinston, Northside shopping centre, Heuston, Dan O Briens Butcher Northside shopping center & Bombay bazar Artane.
How have you found your experience working from new market kitchen?
Great experience and great support from Shane and team!
1. Build a relationship with your health officer, talk to them and invite them to the premises. They will respect you for being the one to ask them which shows that you want to improve!
2. Walk through the establishment starting from the outside, put yourself in the health inspectors place. Check with the local environmental health officer what regulations and forms will be used on the day and apply these when scanning through the premises.
3. Look at all elements of the kitchen space such as ceilings, floors, doors and windows - are they clean and fit for purpose of producing safe food? Do you have separate wash facilities and food preparation areas?
4. Signage! Make sure that all relevant areas have adequate signage in place. We have learned from experience that you can’t have enough signs. It’s important to clearly indicate which wash station is for hand wash, pot wash, or food wash, what colour chopping boards must be used for each food type or areas that are for raw meat only etc within the food preparation unit.
5. Ensure that there is hot, potable water at all times. If there is none at the time of inspection it will cause trouble.
6.Keep an up to date food safety management system, including a HACCP plan and forms such as fridge, freezer and food temperature monitoring sheets. Make sure you know where your critical control points are within your process and the critical limit at each critical point
7. Staff - gather all staff training records as the EHO officer will want to know if your staff have the appropriate training in order to keep the food in your premises safe. One of the most important things is your staffs personal hygiene, poor personal hygiene among staff is one of the biggest causes of food poisoning so the cleanliness of their clothes, hand washing methods and jewellery wearing should be constantly monitored.
In 2013 Katrina and John decided to go to Myanmar (formally known as Burma, next to Thailand) in south east Asia on their honeymoon as John’s Grandmother was Burmese. Little did they know that this trip would turn into a much bigger journey. On seeing the abundance of naturally produced crops, they decided to import sesame and peanut oil from Myanmar to the European market. With the aid of their Burmese business partner they have sourced great tasting, high quality products produced without the use of pesticides or chemicals.
Bayin's emphasis is on being ethical, sustainable and traceable with everything they do. Something that is very important to their business is giving back to the local schools from where they source their products. For example on past trips to meet suppliers they have brought resources such as books and footballs to the school of Myin Sine Village.
Katrina and John are now in their second year of trading and are stocked on shelves in a wide variety of stores throughout Dublin such as Supervalu as well as other specialist stores all around the country in locations throughout Galway, Mullingar, Sligo, Cork, Tralee and Waterford to name but a few. (a full listing of locations can be found on their website at: http://www.bayin.ie/stockists/ )
But this success didn’t come easy….
Myanmar is a country that has been closed off to the rest of the world due to the previous military government and sanctions from the UN. These were lifted in 2012 allowing trade to Europe. However, being the first business to export from Myanmar to Europe they faced many difficulties. There was no trading route establish, transferring money became complicated, customs had little experience in processing requests and no one that could assist or give advice. But, through a lot of hard work Bayin managed to arrange the logistics through the help of Emerald Freight an Irish shipping company. They believed that once the product was in Ireland it would be clear sailing with the bottling and labeling process but they found themselves with very limited options with no oil companies willing to work with them and all of the rental kitchen the encountered being too expensive or not fully equipped. It was at this point that they came in contact with Newmarket Kitchen and began accelerating their business forward.
How have you found your experience in Newmarket kitchen?
"Newmarket provided us with a shared working environment that provided a space for our startup at a price that allowed us to be competitive in the market. As we both have full time jobs as we start to build our business Newmarket kitchen allowed us to share the space with other like minded food companies at times that suited us whilst juggling our 9 to 5 jobs and Bayin. Being a part of this shared community has helped our business to grow in different ways such as:
-Health and safety courses on offer at a reasonable rate.
-Finding a cheaper company for labels.
-Opportunities to pitch to new businesses.
-Marketing & Food Science advice from the Newmarket kitchen team.
-Met a new photographer to help with our website.
and all within a friendly atmosphere to share business ideas, advice and stories.
Bringing Bayin Sesame and Peanut oils to the shelf has been made possible through the shared working environment of Newmarket kitchen" Katrina - Co-Founder of Bayin Foods