ItsGoa had a chat with a young entrepreneur and home chef Sharon Fernandes. She recently launched her brand Custodio’s Goan Home Cooked which delivers freshly cooked Goan food to the people in Delhi. If you are a foodie you should definitely check out what Sharon Fernandes has to say.
“The Goan cuisine that I know has an identity and a past in each dish. I want to share that history”
How did you come up with the idea ‘Custodio’s Goan Home Cooked Food’?
“I have always enjoyed entertaining and cooking for my friends in Delhi. I would try to get my friends to come home and try out Goan food. So it was just the idea of giving people, those living in a landlocked city like Delhi a taste of real Goan food. A cuisine that I know has an identity and a past in each dish. I want to share that history.”
What is your business all about?
“As I mentioned earlier, the idea is to introduce people to the food that one eats in a Goan home. This is about making dishes without using instant powder or packet masala. I never used anything packaged. Everything is made fresh, the spices are roasted and ground before each dish is prepared”.
What job/profession did you hold before starting this business?
“I have been a journalist for 12 years. I have worked with several national newspapers like The Times of India, The Indian Express and Hindustan Times. I have also written for The New York Times, The Economic Times, Sunday Midday, Timeout, and several news sites as well”.
What made you take the leap of faith and jump professions?
“The idea to do something with food has been around in my head for as long as I can remember. It was surely a leap into the unknown, but my passion to share the heritage, the culture and the real flavors of Goa spurred me on”.
Why the name Custodio’s Goan Home Cooked Food?
“I have grown up watching my father cook for us. Watching and learning the stories behind each dish, the way seasonal ingredients are used, learning a lot while working in the kitchen. I find that Goan food is more than just a menu, but a deeper connection to my past, to my family and culture. Custodio is my father’s name, since I learnt all that I know about putting heart and soul into a dish from him. I use his name. He is the reason I am passionate about food”.
How difficult is it to find the ingredients?
Sharon Fernandes spent the last two years living in Goa, visiting local markets, and trying out several dishes according to feasts and seasons. From jackruit jams, to yummy mangada (mango jam) and spicy miskut (pickle), “I have tried and watched my father prepare each dish very closely. I have retraced his childhood meals and stories before coming back to Delhi. So I visit Goa often, each season, to keep my larder well stocked. It is not just ingredients, it is also a particular taste or a memory that I get back each time”.
Where do you find your supplies to match the Goan taste in your food?
“I source my ingredients from Goa. I get Goan sausages, palm vinegar, coconut oil (fresh pressed), kokum, amsol (dried mango), spices, dried fish which includes prawns, sting rays, mackerels from Goa. I use the real stuff. The only thing I source locally in Delhi is fresh chicken, fish like salmon or white pomfret, tiger prawns and pork cuts, since it has to be brought fresh”.
What made you choose Delhi as your place of setting up?
“Delhiites love Goa, and it is no surprise seeing the number of tourists from the city flying in to Goa every summer. From what I gather most of them also crave Goan food, but find that they only have memories of eating at beach shacks or restaurants that serve a badly made limited array of Goan food. Most of them have never tasted or heard of many authentic Goan dishes. Also having spent a decade living in Delhi, it made sense for me to fill this gap, or at least attempt to give people a taste of the authentic fare”.
Have the people of Delhi accepted your business or are you finding it hard to get people to eat Goan food?
“There has been a lot of interest. I am just starting out and haven’t advertised much. People place their orders on the Facebook page: Custodio’s Goan Home cooked food.
I put up a new menu each week with three to four dishes. This could comprise of a starter, mains and side dish. People can order it all or just individual dishes. Each priced separately. Since it is me as a “one woman army” right now, I take orders by Friday noon and deliver them over the weekend”.
How do you judge whether people have liked your food or not?
“Our Facebook page with all the five star review ratings, and the repeat orders we get each week is quite encouraging”.
On an average how many customers do you serve?
“On an average we make around 4-5 deliveries each week”.
Do you plan on expanding your business?
“Yes, we would like to expand without compromising on our quality”.
Do you have any message for the people looking to set up a similar business or restaurant?
“Do it only if you are sure you can serve up the best dish, always, and if you are really passionate about the food, the cuisine and its history. It would be a terrible idea to get into this business to solely make money”.
Sharon Fernandes is a great person to take inspiration from. Hope the young, aspiring chefs of Goa take inspiration from Sharon Fernandes and take Goa’s cuisine places.