This month, we're connecting with Aman Dosanj of The Paisley Notebook—a pop-up dinner series hosting edible adventures and stories about how food connects us. Now the Founder of a new spice blend company, Aman is truly a master in cooking, connecting, and keeping food alive.
WHAT DO YOU DO IN THE WORLD OF FOOD? WHAT IMPACT DO YOUOR DO YOU HOPE TO MAKE?
Image: Lena von Andrian
With the help of The Paisley Notebook, I tell stories with food, showing how food connects us one magical pop-up dinner or edible adventure at a time. It’s also about shifting perceptions and behaviours, very few event details are ever shared (the menu is always a surprise), and you have to show up with an open mind. As a storyteller, cook, adventurer, writer, Slow Food member, I’m dabbling with all kinds of things when it comes to food and drink, travel and sustainability and diversity and inclusion. Oh, and the little pop-up dinner series by a little person now has a little spice blend company, too! Little things really do add up, so since 2017, the project has raised nearly $70k for local charities — if you want things to change, you have to at least try.Image: Jessica Zais Photography
WHAT FOOD OR RECIPE PROVIDES YOU WITH A SEONSE OF NOSTALGIA, COMFORT OR OTHER FEELING?
I was born and raised in England, then jumped over the pond in 2008. Often, when you’re not from a place, you find yourself searching for teeny-tiny pieces of home in food. I get all nostalgic about fish and chips (or frustrated when the chips aren’t proper chips).
Growing up, we used to have this rather inconvenient positioned apple tree in the middle of the garden that interrupted our football or cricket shenanigans. One of my most vivid food memories was being greeted by the smell and taste of a homemade apple pie or crumble made by my Granny. The coolest thing is that no one taught her, and she didn’t speak or understand English, but most likely watched a cooking show on the BBC and figured it out! Food is visual — you do it. So, do we really need recipes with measurements?
WHAT DOES 'KEEP FOOD ALIVE' MEAN TO YOU?Image: Froehler Photography
Keep Food Alive has a bit of a different meaning for me. For something to be craft, it should change as you change. Food is a living thing, so for me, having "signature dishes" doesn't make sense because food becomes static. My food is all about feeling — experiences are what shape what I put on a plate. Food is how I heal, but also how those memories and experiences are kept alive. Why would I stereotype myself by putting what I do inside a box when the world does that for me?
HOW DOES FOOD CONNECT YOU TO THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU?
On the most fundamental level, food is the ultimate connecting piece of the puzzle because we all have to eat. The dinner table is there to start a conversation, even if it's an awkward one about social injustice. The whole project is about making people think.
From the decor to the cooking style, each pop-up dinner is different. My tables-right-at-the-farm takes you directly to where our food is coming from — we build a relationship with the organic farmer, the seasons, their beautiful produce, and their family. Just by sharing a meal, random strangers become friends, and I get to be part of that process. It's also about building a connection to the culture and credited it. We got people looking at single-use and plastic pollution differently when I commissioned a local potter to make me clay pots like in India for dessert. There is a lot of wisdom in the practices of other cultures if you keep an open mind.
My food is reflective of my British Indian confused by Canada identity, and I don't think people can say what you do is wrong (spoiler: people do).
Image: Froehler Photography
WHO IS SOMEONE FROM THE FOOD COMMUNITY YOU'RE INSPIRED BY AND WHY?
Covert Farms Family Estates is a massive 650-acre regenerative farm in Oliver (BC). Animals (like cows) are part of the solution to reverse climate change — building soil health through biodiversity and little to no-tillage, capturing carbon into the soils instead, and other things. Last year, one of their cover crops was red lentils. They harvested the lentils that helped produce the wine, then commissioned me to provide Edible Adventures spice blend samples, along with a recipe for their wine club shipment. That was quite possibly the coolest daal story ever told! Gene, Shelly and the family are great, and this place is definitely the benchmark. And no farmers, no food!
LEARN MORE ABOUT AMAN'S EDIBLE ADVENTURES
Do you know someone who would be a great Kindred Kitchen feature? Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
It is with deep respect and gratitude that we create, build and operate our business in the communities of Southern Vancouver Island, which as a business we acknowledge is located within the ancestral and unceded territories of the lək̓ʷəŋən (Lekwungen) (Esquimalt and Songhees), Malahat, Pacheedaht, Scia'new, T’Sou-ke and W̱SÁNEĆ (Pauquachin, Tsartlip, Tsawout, Tseycum) peoples.