With her first cookbook out this fall, India-born and Atlanta-based chef Asha Gomez tells the tale of her two Souths.
“The places I’ve called home have both been Southern regions—that happen to be oceans apart,” says Candler Park-based chef Asha Gomez. Food & Wine magazine’s Best New Chef in 2013 and 2014 grew up in Kerala, a region of India with strong Portuguese and Dutch influences from traders frequenting its shores. Ten years ago, Gomez arrived on new ground in Atlanta and won over the city’s foodies. Soon came her first restaurant, Cardamom Hill, for which she received a nod from James Beard Foundation for best new restaurant in 2013. However, Gomez closed the Northside Drive hot spot when she realized the long hours were causing her to miss out on being a mom to her young son. She and her husband switched gears and opened The Third Space in Old Fourth Ward to host cooking classes and private events, as well as Spice To Table next door. The latter is only open until 3:30pm. “Then I’m in the carpool line,” she says. Gomez believes the biggest misconception people have in the industry is that you have to be behind kitchen doors. “It’s far from the reality,” she advises. For the last two years, she’s been consulting, as well as writing a cookbook at home. My Two Souths: Blending the Flavors of India Into a Southern Kitchen ($35, Running Press) is slated to hit shelves in October, but can be preordered now on amazon.com. The tasty tome contains 125 recipes highlighting and melding the two places Gomez has called home. (Think fried chicken with cardamom rice waffles, and chile-pepper peach pie.) Maybe the idea is best revealed in her recipe for johnnycakes. Instead of flour alone, she adds green chiles and spice-infused cane syrup. It’s symbolic of Gomez’s driving philosophy: “What a chef puts on a plate is the sum total of their life experiences.”
Being able to enjoy working and being a mom, expanding palates with exciting flavors, community, eradicating global hunger in our lifetime, traveling
Fusion, addiction to technology, food elitism