Becca Pereira is keeping her popular Indian comfort food takeout service all in the family
There’s a venerated and sacred cookbook in Becca Pereira’s family kitchen that contains a pile of handwritten recipes from her great-grandmother. Using it as a guide, Pereira learned to cook all the dishes she makes for her weekly meal service Spice Girl Eats.
“My mom won’t let me touch it because it’s so sacred but she typed out the recipes and we use that,” she explains. “Every recipe that we cook is from that book.”
Pereira prepares dishes like lamb rogan josh, paneer makhni, butter chicken, channa masala every Tuesday out of a rented kitchen space at the Depanneur on College near Dufferin.
“A lot of the recipes have never been tested, so every week is like an experiment. But I’m so grateful to have my mom helping me because pretty much anything she makes tastes good. I’m not even close to being a professional whatsoever. I’m still learning.”
Launched in October, Spice Girl Eats was born out of necessity and sheer will. Pereira hoped to start culinary school but the pandemic derailed that plan.
She started her first job 10 years ago at age 13 and has since worked in fast food, retail, as a model and as a receptionist, but she feels newly impassioned to pursue work in the culinary world. A lot of home cooks started using Instagram to sell meals during lockdown. She was inspired to join in, noticing a lack of Indian comfort food options.
The menu changes weekly based on her whims. It’s grown quite organically and Pereira is taking things day by day, just happy to have customers keen to experiment with new kinds of food.
“I’m really trying to get people to try foods that they’ve never even heard of. Some customers who ordered on the first day have ordered every single week since. It’s crazy,” she said.
She’s seen Spice Girl Eats become a new tradition in some families. “There’s one dad who buys five different meals every week and then he delivers one to each of his kids in Toronto and then they Zoom and eat together.”
Being able to work with her mother is important to her because she loves the time they get to bond in the kitchen. But also, Pereira can afford to pay her mom, meaning she could quit one of her previous jobs.
“I’m pushing myself to continue Spice Girl Eats because my family, we come from not having much. But we always made the most of things,” she says. “[My mother’s] always been someone who is stressed about money, and I just don’t want her to be anymore.
“I’ve never pushed myself harder at something, so having her rely on me is definitely the number one factor motivating me to make bigger changes and bigger moves.”
Some of those bigger moves include growing the business, more collaborations, expanding into grocery stores, selling products like chai concentrate, frozen samosas and jarred sauces, and maybe even a YouTube cooking channel. All in due time, of course.
“Now that I know what it feels like to be my own boss, I can’t go back.”