An innovative business accelerator programme is not only helping people get a foothold in the hospitality industry but, as Justin Latif reports, it’s also changing the way South Aucklanders think about their local cuisine.
When it comes to food in South Auckland, greasy corner-store takeaways or brazen fast-food franchises might spring to mind.
But three local female entrepreneurs want to change that perception.
The trio are part of a wave of newly established, authentically South Auckland food businesses, being supported by a council-funded business-incubation programme called The Kitchen Project.
Beyond butter chicken
After leaving Mumbai, India, where she ran a catering business with her husband, Perzen Patel decided she wanted to offer Kiwis an alternative to the watered-down curry pastes commonly found in supermarkets.
“It has always been at the back of my mind that I want people to know there’s more to Indian food than just butter chicken.”
She hopes her Dolly Mumma products not only introduce customers to a wider variety of curry flavours, but are also really easy to use.
“Typically when someone wants to cook a curry, you either buy a sauce from the supermarket, or you go it alone, and you get 20 different spices from the Indian shop.
“Hopefully we can be that middle ground. It’s a fresh product, not made with preservatives, using my grandmother’s recipes, but essentially it’s still a paste, so you can just tip and go.”
She credits The Kitchen Project with helping her to hone her products as well as being a sounding board.
“I call my business mentor ‘my therapist’ because I could call her anytime to get help with each and every issue that would arise.”
The Takanini resident says another motivation is to show people that South Auckland cuisine is more than what’s commonly available.
“So much of the food that’s available in our area is fast food or your traditional European fare, and it’s not really reflective of the people who live here. I’m really passionate about showing people a real version of Indian food, not just this one version that people have in their minds.”