“Even when I was making coronation chicken sandwiches in Elephant and Castle, I was putting my own twist on it and people loved it. So, my advice is to know what you’re doing and from there you can choose your path.”
Pary opened the first Nandine with her husband and sons in 2016. Before that she was working as a chef in Elephant and Castle, cooking a mixture of British and Kurdish food.
What made you decide to open up a second site in Peckham Levels?
Why not? It was a big step but it’s allowed us to introduce Kurdish food to whole new group of people and nationalities. When customers came to our Camberwell site and tasted the food, they loved it, so when the Peckham Levels opportunity came up we applied. Lots of different food was here but Kurdish food wasn’t. People who have visited our other restaurants come here and people who find us here, try our other sites. The customers are different. We’re planning to open a third site as well.
What do you enjoy about what you do?
I enjoy making food. I love to cook and I love sharing food with the other people. Especially Kurdish food because it’s not as known. There’s lots of Middle Eastern food here and there are similarities but our Kurdish food has a completely different taste, different spices and different techniques.
When customers come in and they say for example, the hummus is different from other hummus or better than most, it’s nice to tell them how I do it differently. It’s still Middle Eastern but there’s different twists. We use lots of wild herbs, vegetables, beans, pulses, dried fruit and nuts in our food.
Have you always been cooking food your whole life?
I started at the age 13 or 14 and I was always interested in cooking but I never thought it would become my profession. My grandma cooked, my auntie and my mum sometimes. I would watch, repeat it and sometimes add my own thing.
Do you have any advice for someone who is starting their own business?
If you’re working with family, sometimes it’s difficult but sometimes it’s a great pleasure to work with my sons. Before we opened Nandine, they were studying and would help out but now they’re involved in every detail.
My advice to other people starting their own business is do lots of research before starting and know what you’re getting involved in. Before we opened Nandine, I was trying out new food and getting so much good feedback, it was crazy. I didn’t know whether to prepare food or focus on the restaurant. Even when I was making coronation chicken sandwiches in Elephant and Castle, I was putting my own twist on it and people loved it. So, my advice is to know what you’re doing and from there you can choose your path.
What are your plans for the future of Nandine?
I’d like to see it grow and for people to recognise Kurdish food, that’s my aim. I will try my best to put it on the table for different people and different nationalities because I see different dishes from different countries but I don’t see our Kurdish food there, I want to present Kurdish food on it’s own.
Credit – Ash Chalk (photography and interview)