BUSINESS BUZZ: Homecooked meals from South India

Bob Hall’s monthly roundup of Nelson business news

By Bob Hall

When you walk into Kootenay Tamil Kitchen’s new location on Baker Street, greeted by the smiles of Ciraj and Martina Premanantham, you are overcome with a welcoming feeling. You immediately sense the love and enthusiasm they have for the food they prepare and the guests who are seated.

“What we eat in our daily life is what we serve in our restaurant,” says Martina. “These are the recipes from my mother and grandmother which I learned… this is the homecooked food that we wanted to see in Nelson.”

Beyond the healthy, natural and tasty food these restaurateurs serve is a pretty cool story.

Ciraj started his career as a chef in India with the Sheraton hotel group and eventually moved on to work for Carnival Cruise Lines where he became the head chef overseeing 137 cooks who prepared three meals a day for up to 6,400 guests.

After eight years with the cruise line, Ciraj wanted a less stressful pace and sought a new start. He chose Canada.

“Canada is a peaceful country,” he says. “After being all over the world with my work, I feel Canada is the safest and best life you can find. I fell in love with it when I worked with the cruise ships. People respect each other. If you are a hard worker and an honest person, you can achieve anything you want.”

After arriving in Calgary, he heard about a cook job in Nelson with the Prestige Inn Lakeside Resort and took the Greyhound to the West Kootenay where he started his new life in 2012 as a training cook cutting potatoes and cleaning tables.

Ciraj and Martina grew up a block away from each other in their south India town. They were married just prior to coming to Canada and despite Martina working on her PhD in physics, she followed her love to a new home and started a family.

Though Ciraj’s talents in the kitchen quickly propelled him to becoming a business partner in West Coast Grill where he traveled to the five different locations around the province, the couple started their own venture on Anderson Street in Nelson when they opened the Kootenay Tamil Kitchen in 2017.

With a delicious menu that leaves you feeling healthier after a meal than when you arrived, they quickly found a supportive following. Earlier this year, they moved to 660 Baker St. because they wanted a bigger kitchen and more seating capacity.

“We don’t feel like this is a business, we feel like we are feeding our friends and family,” says Martina. “We take full responsibility for their experience once they come into the restaurant. We are proud of this and we work hard to make sure that happens.”

Earlier this month, Ciraj took another step in his new Canadian life when he became the owner-operator of the West Coast Grill in the Prestige Inn Lakeside Resort. With two young children, Martina is now the main force behind the food and service on Baker Street where the Tamil culture of kindness, calmness and sharing shines through.

“I came to Nelson because of my love for him and I wanted to raise a family here,” says Martina. “Nelson is God’s gift for both of us… it’s the perfect place for us.”

•••

The Yasodhara Ashram’s new Temple of Light is a stunningly beautiful addition to the East Shore of Kootenay Lake and the accolades for its construction continue to roll in. Earlier this month at the Vancouver Convention Centre, Patkau Architects received the Wood Innovation Award for the project’s complex, curvilinear geometry, and the diversity and flexibility of using wood.

The award is sponsored by Wood WORKS! BC and there were 103 nominations in 14 categories from many locations in the province as well as the U.S. and Asia, with international projects in China, Korea and Tajikistan. Nelson’s Spearhead Inc. and many other regional contractors helped bring the ambitious design of Temple of Light to life. Congrats to all involved!

•••

With summer only a season away, warmer days and a shift in new recreational activities are not far off. But as we are becoming all too familiar, so is the real threat of natural disaster in the form of wildfire. On April 8 and 9, Community Futures Central Kootenay is hosting a community economic development forum in Castlegar with the theme of “Natural Disasters – how to prepare, respond and recover.”

The forum will bring together experts who have helped businesses through recent natural disasters, including flood and wildfire. Learn about disaster preparedness, response and recovery for your business and community. You can find out more information and register at: https://futures.bc.ca/2019-ced-forum/

•••

After 23 years of working under the Sun Life Financial banner in Nelson, Christine Lepage is retiring at the end of this month. Lucas Hart, who was born and raised in Nelson, has moved back to town and is taking over the business. Lucas can be found at 4–609 Baker St. or by calling 250-354-4213. Good luck to both for fresh starts on new pathways!

•••

That’s it for this edition of the Business Buzz. If you have a noteworthy business bite to include in an upcoming column please email bobbyhallten@gmail.com with all the pertinent information. Please note that this column is not a platform for advertising sales or products, just a conduit for keeping readers up to speed on all the cool moves, awesome events, helpful workshops and notable promotions that take place in our wonderful little mountain community!

Bob Hall is the communications coordinator at Selkirk College and volunteer director on the Nelson and District Chamber of Commerce. His column appears in the Nelson Star once a month.

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