A self-taught cook, Aman produces restaurant quality food in unexpected places, without fancy equipment, power, or running water.
Tell us about yourself.
Born and raised in Southampton, England, I jumped over the pond in 2008. I went from being a former England U-16 and Arsenal Ladies soccer player to stumbling upon this food thing, opening up a farm-to-table Indian restaurant in Kelowna called ‘Poppadoms’ in 2009. The vibrant farm-to-table Indian restaurant found synergy with the Okanagan – combining true-to-its-roots Indian flavours with the purity of the Okanagan’s terroir.
With a curious mind, this little self-taught cook was named Western Living Magazine’s top 10 ‘Foodie of the Year’ in 2015. After selling the restaurant, I went traveling for 7.5 months writing about how food connects us; it’s those stories that helped shape what I do now. I now host pop up dinners across Canada aimed at building community one pop up at a time. I wanted to flip the restaurant model and focus on the positives about why we cook in the first time.
My little project wanted to make it count, so I’ve raised over $47k for local charities since 2017, and my ever-changing moveable feast was listed as a top 3 ‘Remarkable Experience’ at the BC Tourism Industry Awards two years in a row and won the ‘Culinary Tourism Experience’ category at the Canadian Tourism Awards in 2018 (so the teeny tiny underdog does win sometimes). This video will give you a better idea of what I do. I also write about all things food/travel/sustainability for Tourism Kelowna, ThompsonOkanagan.com, and Edible Canada.
You’re super busy! How did you make time for a fire?
Culinary life 2.0 was all about doing what makes me happy. Put simply, I tell stories with food. The idea is to produce restaurant quality food in unexpected places, without the fancy equipment or power or running water. I cook with fire or my camp stove. There’s just something about the smell of camp fire that gives me all the feels. I love being outdoors so I created something to work for me. Every time I pop up it’s totally different.
Why is your Solo Stove easier to use than other camping stoves or fire pits?
I’ve only borrowed a Solo Stove, but that made my craving for one worse. Every time I hike or adventure, it’s always an edible adventure. A Solo Stove means you can have a field lunch in no time and it fits in my backpack. You can also make sure you ‘leave no trace’, which is important for the planet and it works as a smoker too. I shot an episode of From The Wild (S5, E3 – I’m at 1:12 mark in the series trailer) with the stove and my dish also made the poster cover for the entire season.
I’ve also returned from a 4-week road trip to the Maritimes (East Coast of Canada), where we cooked with a Solo Stove. It’s perfect for pop up life, especially because I can’t dig up random fire pits everywhere I go! It gets super hot and you can control the heat well, with a little practice.
What were the most memorable moments?
I remember playing in the tide pools at the Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick) harvesting periwinkles, soft shell crabs and seaweeds, then going back to camp and cooking what we harvested for a true taste of place. There’s something really satisfying about working for your food, then cooking on the spot – we put the value back into food.
I tell stories with food, so it’s the experiences that I have which help me create my dishes. The goal is to leave a piece of me on every plate and the Solo Stove helped with that. I’m about to launch my own line of spice blends to get people cooking real food and make using Indian spices less intimidating. The plan is for me to keep on cooking outside with the spices and fire to plant a seed about what people can do to amp up camp food, travel food or just simply cooking at home. There will be supporting videos and a few recipe doodles, too. I’m excited to see when people start sharing their dishes and ideas for cook in unexpected places to create positive food memories.
Have your own story to share? Submit your adventure for a chance to be featured.