Namaste Woo and Pacha Mama join the Worcester Public Market

By Barbara M. Houle

Worcester’s Public Market, 160 Green St., continues to attract new businesses, adding Namaste Woo and Pacha Mama to its list of vendors serving ethnic cuisine last month.

Meet these enthusiastic new sellers.

Pooja Vishal from Namaste Woo (Indian inspired food) lives in Shrewsbury with her husband and their two daughters. She is originally from India and has been a “home cook for over 25 years”. Her first business started in 2018 after talking to Shon Rainford, director of the Worcester Regional Food Hub, about becoming a member of the food hub and using the hub’s kitchen to make Indian-style meal kits that she planned to sell. at local farmers’ markets.

Indian dishes are based on recipes from Vishal’s mother. “My mother was an excellent cook and when she passed away my father was on his own and left to cook for himself,” Vishal said. “I thought of him when I created the meal kits because through the food he could smell my mother. Food brings people together, regardless of culture.

The popularity of ready-to-cook meal kits sold at farmers’ markets led to Vishal’s company, Urban Spice World, and the website www.urbanspiceworld.com, an online service that makes cooking fun and easy. “All the ingredients you need to prepare a delicious meal and in exactly the right proportions are in the meal kits,” Vishal said. “I am including a small map inside with instructions. So easy, it really is brainless cooking.

“Chef Pooja” on his YouTube channel shows how to create meals using the kits. More information on the videos and recipes are on his website.

Students particularly enjoy the home-flavored food, according to Vishal, who said he has loyal customers across the United States. “I love getting comments,” she said, “and special requests for food. “

When the Worcester Public Market opened in February 2020, Vishal said to himself, “Someday I want to be there. The market closed shortly after the grand opening due to the pandemic, reopening in the summer of 2020. Vishal has been a seller for several weeks.

Namaste Woo lives up to Vishal’s expectations. “The stand has been very busy, especially on the weekends,” said Vishal, who makes Indian specialties or “quick bites,” like samosas, to go. On weekends, different curries are on his menu. “I like to bring a taste of India to the guests. It is diversity and unity on a plate. And, I’m all about healthy eating, ”Vishal said.

Although Vishal’s meal kits are on display, she does not sell them at her booth. Instead, the kits are sold at the Market Pantry inside the Worcester Public Market, a business that sells local foods and artisan products.

Social media plays an important role in bringing new customers to Namaste Woo and Vishal’s website. Her husband is her “rock”, she said, explaining that she wouldn’t be in business without his support. “I couldn’t have done all of this without him,” Vishal said.

Drop by the Namaste Woo booth for some great food and conversation. Vishal is super nice!

Leo Alarcon, Clifford Buck and Maria Morillo at Pacha Mama, which opened last month at the Worcester Public Market.

Clifford Buck and Leo Alarcon are friends who opened Pacha mom last month, with the goal of someday owning a Peruvian restaurant.

Alarcon, who came to the United States from Peru with members of his family in the early 1990s, is a registered nurse. His father, Raoul Alarcon, is associated with Pacha Mama, making most of the desserts.

Buck has a background in sales and marketing and has traveled extensively. He’s a musician (drummer), a graduate of Johnson & Wales University in Providence and a guy who first tasted Peruvian cuisine when he vacationed in Lima, the capital of Peru ago. several years. Alarcon was traveling and introduced Buck to the food he grew up on.

Buck said that in Peru he immediately fell in love with the food and the people. He then returned to Lima for a year to teach English. He said he learned as much as he could about cooking from chefs and home cooks.

“Peruvian cuisine is made of bold flavors and spices,” Buck said. “It’s different from other cuisines because it relies a lot on a variety of native ingredients. Everything is so fresh. It is considered fusion cuisine at its best.

Buck and Alarcon came up with the idea of ​​opening a Peruvian restaurant or cafe because “there is nothing like it in Worcester”. Alarcon said he had to go to Boston or Providence to eat traditional Peruvian food, or eat at home. A friend told him about the Worcester Public Market.

Ceviche, possibly Peru’s most famous dish, features on Pacha Mama’s take-out menu, along with empanadas, dishes such as Causa Rellena, a chicken salad layered between mashed potatoes, and the Alarcon’s favorite, Lomo Saltado, sautéed beef mixed with fries.

Note: Potatoes are included in many Peruvian recipes as the country has over 3,000 varieties. Alarcon said potatoes are an important part of Peruvian heritage.

Visit http://pachamamawoosta.com for a full menu, including desserts. Log on to Facebook.

Buck runs the booth daily and also creates Pacha Mama’s weekly menu. Alarcon generally prepares all sauces (light and non-spicy) and helps wherever he needs it. The owners said the food was made from scratch and most of the seasonings and dried ingredients came from Peru. “Our distributors have been very good at filling the orders,” Buck said. “So far, no problem.” The fresh products come from local producers.

Buck said the first week at the Worcester Public Market was a “wild ride”, with Pacha Mama landing his first restaurant job. “It was amazing,” he said, adding that the business has remained stable and is extremely busy on the weekends.

Maria Morillo, a friend of the owners, is often at Pacha Mama’s in traditional Peruvian costume. She is from Peru and speaks Spanish and English to describe the traditions and the cuisine.

Peru is a country in South America that has quickly become a leading culinary destination, and the cuisine has grown in popularity in the United States.

Pacha Mama (Mother Earth) brings a taste of Peru to the city.

Worcester’s public market is truly rich in ethnic diversity, says Domenic D. Mercurio Jr., executive director of the market. “Under one roof we have 13 countries represented,” he said. “The food is amazing, prepared by the natives of these countries. There is a tremendous amount of heart and soul in every recipe that is created here.

“We are delighted to have Namaste Woo and Pacha Mama as new additions,” said Mercurio. “Everything they turn out is so tasty and colorful, and both restaurants are exceptionally popular with our customers.”

The Worcester Public Market is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday. Note: Vendors remain open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

October specials in Sole, Via

October is a month of gastronomic celebrations at the restaurants of the Worcester Restaurant Group.

The sole owner, 118 Highland St., Worcester, (www.thesole.com) offers an Oysterfest menu of dishes prepared in a variety of ways including baked, stuffed, fried and raw.

Classic appetizers include Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Casino. Choose a fried oyster roll or a haddock with crispy oysters as a starter.

The restaurant will host a Moet and Chandon oyster dinner on October 19. The seats are limited. Book on the Sole website.

It’s the annual PigFest at Italian table VIA, 89 Shrewsbury Street, Worcester.

Start with appetizers like roast pork belly or smoked pork crostini, or head straight to entrees like Berkshire Pork Osso Buco or Porchetta.

Creative pork dishes on VIA’s menu include Berkshire pork osso bucco, roasted porchetta, Milanese pork, roasted pork belly and local creamed corn, and more. Visit www.viaitaliantable.com.

So many choices!

Bah-Bah-Q and beer in Rutland

Black Sheep Bah-Bah-Q & Cuisine will be at Milk Room Brewing Company located at Alta Vista Farm in Rutland during Columbus Day weekend.

The food trailer is regularly parked at 387 Main Street, Spencer, 11 am to 8 pm Tuesday through Friday; noon to 9 p.m. on Saturday; from noon to 6 p.m. on Sunday. For more information visit www.blacksheepbahbahq.com.

If you have a treat for the column, call (508) 868-5282. Send an email to [email protected]

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