In June 2020, Becca Pereira posed a charitable challenge to her Instagram followers: the first 20 people who donated a minimum of C$25 ($21.60) to a nonprofit helping Black Torontonians combat food insecurity were among them. Each will receive a meal of butter chicken cooked by Pereira. .
The “overwhelming” response gave Perea, a former model who had recently lost her job as a receptionist, the confidence to start her own pop-up restaurant in Canada’s largest city. Four months later, she was serving authentic Goan food to customers through her new venture, Spice Girl Eats.
The name refers to the cuisine of the 23-year-old family, originating from the coastal state of Goa in southwest India, known for its coconut flavor and aromatic, spicy seafood. Goan cuisine is less tomato-based than other Indian food and targets all five taste sensations—sweet, bitter, salty, sour and spicy.
Periera quickly brought on board her mother, a professional chef born in the Goan village of Navelim, as head chef and business partner. “As a cook, I was so tired. They really chew on you and spit you out, that’s the industry,” says Corina Periara, a single mom raising Becca and her three older siblings — who are involved in the business. “I took a leap of faith. And now I am much happier.”
Customers place their orders on Fridays. Then, Becca and her mother gather on Monday to cook food, which the customers can collect the next day. They use a book of handwritten Goan recipes from Becca’s grandmother, who catered parties and wrote cookbooks for neighbors in India.
Becca says the duo has created more than 45 dishes for thousands of customers over the past year. The company broke even in four months—”a huge milestone,” she says.
And while Spice Girl Eats is relatively small, it has attracted attention in the city’s competitive food industry. The team recently completed a one-night stint at Toronto’s iconic Soho House.
Perias’ dishes have powerful and savory flavors, and each stands on its own, says Brayden Chong, co-founder and sous chef of Toronto’s Sunny’s Sugar, who worked at Michelin-star restaurants Sazenka and (formerly) Inua in Tokyo. done, and Lura in Kyoto. Becca’s story is also relatable, says Chong, which adds to the appeal of Spice Girl Eats Meal. “I love what she’s doing, it’s so inspiring.”
On a recent afternoon, the mother-daughter duo is making spicy shrimp curry in coconut milk and jeera (cumin) rice, a typical Goan lunch dish. A pot on the stove gets heated with Kashmiri chillies, green chillies, onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cumin, coriander powder and black pepper.
The aroma engulfs the kitchen, the pungent smoke of chili tickles the throats of everyone in the room. There’s fun, inside jokes, recaps of favorite family stories, and even a little conflict. “Sometimes it’s hard in the kitchen,” Becca says, “because my mom is a professional cook and she has that experience and I’m a novice, so I’m learning a lot.”
Initially, Spice Girl Eats featured a fusion of Goan cuisine such as vindaloo, zacuti curry, and aloo chops (a spicy shepherd’s pie crossed with croquettes), along with some classic Indian dishes such as butter chicken, korma, and tikka. There was a rotating menu. Spice. The model has evolved with the return of indoor restaurant dining in Toronto, which has led to a drop in orders for Spice Girl Eats.
In September the business scaled back its weekly offering to “thalis” – small dishes as a complement to a main meal rather than a full menu. A thali, which means “plate” in Hindi, is made up of 5–10 portions placed in small bowls—for example, rice, roti, dal (lentil curry), vegetables, chutneys and pickles.
Last week, Venture launched a line of Chai Latte concentrates that took nine months to make. They are available for pickup in the kitchen of Becca’s home and at Ruru Baked, an Asian-inspired ice cream parlor that teamed up with Becca over the summer to taste-test Chai Latte ice cream, and she’s in discussion with a few cafes to sell. Still working. Bottled tea in the shop. It has also started free delivery of products in certain areas of Toronto, and is planning Canada-wide shipping.
Becca says that Spice Girl Eats’ focus is likely to shift to the product line. Instead of offering weekly meal service, the team plans to introduce some catering and one-day pop-ups at key locations, as well as collaborating with other chefs. She also wants to devote more time to making cooking videos for Tiktok.
Becca’s ultimate financial goal for her family is simple: “We can end the cycle of how we grew up,” she says, “I want our family to be successful.”
(Except for the title, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)