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12.11.2016

A cottage cheese coloured house at Pali Naka smells like citrus. The scent stayed behind after twelve dinner guests left this past weekend, reminding Sarita Pereira that she has to buy more kaffir lime.

This villa is a design studio by day and the Lovefools Lab, where you can reserve a spot to dine at the bi-weekly community table or book a private group dinner.

Chef and founder Sarita recently returned from Spain where she worked with Michelin star chef Nandu Jubany, whom she had admired a la distance. “It started when I was looking up emulsions online, and watched him in a Harvard science and cooking video series.” After this, Sarita emailed a “long love letter” to chef Jubany, who miraculously replied in a month, and despite the fact that she had no formal training as a chef, invited her to work at his restaurant Can Jubany. “We spoke on the phone – he didn’t understand a word of English and I don’t speak Spanish, but the next thing I know I’m off to Vic, a town that has 20,000 people and one Airbnb listing.”

Finding Xavi and Direction

At the restaurant Sarita was thrown into “everything”, working 9 am to 4 am daily shifts, which included chef Jubany’s catering outfit that organised a dinner for footballer Xavi. “I returned with a new outlook on cooking techniques and a renewed commitment to perfection, because I know now that a strawberry garnish facing north when it should be facing south is blasphemous.” She also binged on chefs’ favourite cookbooks and tried a new fish recipe every day for a year to polish her techniques. 

“I returned with a new outlook on cooking techniques and a renewed commitment to perfection, because I know now that a strawberry garnish facing north when it should be facing south is blasphemous.”

Now Sarita is back and in that cottage cheese “villa-studio” where she launched her first dinner last month. One look at the food, and you’ll know this is more than just a home chef hosting dinners in her living room. While each feast has an overarching theme, Sarita doesn’t consider it dinner “unless it covers at least four continents.” The last one featured dishes like 12-hour infused cheese with blueberry spice sauce; wine steamed mussels; mackerel cooked sous vide with Indonesian hot chilli oil, leaf-wrapped Indian salmon and more.

And while fancy it may be, the meal will never be too stiff or fussy, and the plates are not “intimidatingly white.” Sarita refuses to reveal her menu for November 12, but sign up (if it’s full, there’s one every week) and she promises a great experience. For a more informal setting, attend a Trial Tuesdays dinner, a sort of a backstage to the Saturday night table setting, where experimental dishes are tested on a bunch of lucky guinea pigs.

Now For The Cherry On Top

Lovefools is also in the process of picking out packaging – “I hate all the container samples I see” – for small batch ice cream that will soon be delivered in flavours like The Dulce de Leche Rumour and the Rosemary And Cashew Incident. We sign up for a dinner and leave this villa vandre with the scandal that we’ll always subscribe to: a Dark Chocolate and Lemon Affair (which tastes amazing, by the way).

Getting there: 124, Pereira House, opposite Pali Village Café, Bandra (W), to sign up for Trial Tuesdays or Saturday dinners, call 09820040618 or visit www.thelovefools.com, Rs 3,000 per head for an eight course meal (food preferences and allergies will be taken into account) and additional for wine.

 

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