Following the success of her first cookbook tashas Café Classics, Natasha Sideris, owner of the tashas boutique café franchise, has released a second titled tashas Inspired. We catch up with her about business and her new cookbook, from which she’s shared three recipes that are ideal for summer meals
You’re the founder and CEO of a multi-international chain of cafés and bars. Yet growing up you never wanted to be involved in the restaurant business. How and when did that change?
My father Harry was a successful restaurateur and a great chef, so I grew up in the business. After completing my BA in Psychology, I had fully intended to pursue another path, but soon realised that my passion for hospitality was part of my DNA and I couldn’t deny it. In 2005, I opened my fi rst tashas and I haven’t looked back. Being a restaurateur is like being a conductor in an orchestra. It’s wonderfully diverse and I get to do the things I love most – work with people, design incredible spaces and serve brilliant food to our guests.
There are currently 20 tashas – 15 in South Africa and 5 in the UAE. What motivates you to continually evolve and expand the brand?
When we opened the second tashas, I realised that I didn’t want to follow the rules. Each tashas had to have a unique inspiration yet fi t together as a family. It’s this recipe that keeps me inspired. I love to collaborate with artisans, designers, our chefs and our team. What keeps me motivated is the constant desire to innovate our much-loved brand. I also see a huge gap in the market for what we offer – fresh food, made to order in stunning environments delivered with engaging personal service.
What is your proudest moment as a restaurant owner?
My proudest moment as a restaurant owner, was when I opened the doors to my first restaurant and my father was there by my side.
Tashas Inspired, your award-winning second cookbook, is an ode to your heritage and travels around the world. What can readers expect?
The book is divided into seven different chapters – Café Society, A Spanish Affair, Le Bistro, The Levant Kitchen, A New York State of Mind, A Day in the Country and The Mediterranean Kitchen. In this book, I wanted to inspire home cooks to think like a restaurateur and create memorable meals by considering all the elements that lend themselves to a specific menu, including the table setting and the music. Each chapter also has Spotify playlists to set the mood for the perfect meal with friends and family. It is also filled with more than 70 pieces of beautiful, original art and themed menus. This large-format hardback book will sit as perfectly on the kitchen counter as it will on a coffee table.
There are so many great recipes in the book. Which one is your favourite and why?
That is a difficult question to answer as it is filled with my favourite recipes. If I must choose, it will be the avgolemono soup. Food evokes memories and this will always remind me of my mother and my grandmother. It is comfort food at its best.
What is your recipe for success?
Follow your passion, surround yourself with people that understand your vision and stay true to who you are.
For more information, visit tashascafe.com and @tashascafe.