Chef Kara Pessoa caters to healthy taste
Kara Pessoa truly understands the importance of food in gastronomy and values the adage ‘health is wealth’. The Le Cordon Bleu, classically trained chef, is not only the face of the catering business, 2KChefs, but she also operates a staff kitchen for a security firm. Additionally, she delves into the world of culinary psychology, exploring its effects on both the mind and body, making it her mission to educate others through meal education and preparation.
“Food is health. And gut health is where your health starts,” she told Food in a recent interview. Her love for food knows no bounds and she is happy to pass on the knowledge to fellow chefs and anyone seeking to embrace a delicious yet healthy approach to meals.
Growing up, Pessoa was neither a fan of food nor cooking. Introduced to the art form out of necessity during her college years, she recalled discovering her love and appreciation for dining during her travels. “I went to Spain on an exchange programme right after high school. Gastronomy is a part of the country’s tourism. They spend a lot of time around food. I tried stuff that I loved and hated. I got into wine and chocolate. I ate the entire time that I was there.”
Attending college in Miami, Florida, Pessoa was further exposed to the dynamic foodie culture. Her adventurous spirit led her to work as a bartender at various restaurants while pursuing her tertiary education. She dabbled in different culinary experiences and before long she made a significant shift in her career path, transitioning from studying international relations and signing up to do the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) to pursuing the culinary arts.
“I saw an ad for Le Cordon Bleu which was down the road from where I lived. I went there for a tour because I wanted to learn how to make ketchup from scratch. But it became so much more than that. When I started culinary school, I knew every grain, I did raw food, I did everything,” she said.
Reaping the fruits of her labour, she had the honour of becoming the valedictorian of her graduating class. She subsequently embarked on a vegan internship at a hotel in Florida, learning all that she could about natural flavours and nutrition. While working at various a la carte restaurants in Florida, she developed a strong passion for crafting dishes that not only tasted exceptional but also appealed to foodies. In addition to her educational journey, the good chef ventured into private catering and bartending both during and after her college years.
After living away from Jamaica for 14 years, Chef Pessoa returned home with a bold vision of transforming the concept healthy living through irresistibly delicious meals. She established a successful catering business in the tourism and hospitality industry. However, she had a deeper yearning. She longed to have more quality time with her daughter and to build a company of the highest calibre that would be uniquely hers.
JOURNEY INTO HOSPITALITY
“In September of 2013, I made the decision to move back home. I wasn’t doing what I loved. And at that point, my baby, who wasn’t two as yet, ate completely organic. I made everything for her and it was all-natural.” Taking a year off, Pessoa cooked for family and friends before embarking on a journey in the hospitality industry.
Pessoa’s culinary journey was a comprehensive one. She gained expertise in every aspect of the field, from cleaning to the creative process, execution, plating, and customer interaction. After leaving, she ventured into freelance work with other chefs and became a valued member at Rainforest Seafoods for nearly a decade. She shared, “I worked with different brands developing products and doing food styling and catering events.”
This experience inspired Pessoa to launch her own venture, giving rise to 2KChefs. Culinary based, the company has an active database of talented and trained chefs who are available for every catering occasion. “People call me all the time to say they need a chef. Whatever concept you have for an event, you give us a budget and we will execute.” She also promotes special menus featuring items such as a sushi bar, burgers or lasagna. There, customers can place their orders on the advertised day, and savour the delectable delights upon pick up or delivery.
As a caterer, Chef Pessoa has been sought after by numerous diplomats and expatriates to work with their families or kitchen staff in crafting the perfect combination of tasty and healthy meals. She excels in achieving a harmonious balance of flavours and also provides insights into low-calorie options, offering organic alternatives, and imparting knowledge that fosters a lifelong understanding of nutritious eating.
In addition to catering, the good chef operates Luna’s Kitchen, a canteen-based restaurant in Cross Roads, Kingston, where she provides breakfast and lunch for the security company and offers delivery to other foodies looking to excite their taste buds.
The dishes are island based, highlighting Jamaican flavours at their very best. “We do cowhead, tripe and bean, turkey neck and curried pork on a Monday and Tuesday, Wednesdays are dedicated to pastas and salads and by Thursday, we cook up international dishes with an island flair. Every last Friday of the month, we do a special that is carefully selected for our customers,” said Pessoa.
Chef Pessoa’s passion lies in making international dishes using fresh catch, produce and seasoning and spices, coming up with a unique twist that elevates the taste. She specialises in vegan, vegetarian and keto-inspired dishes.
Did we mention that she makes her own gourmet granolas? This healthy on-the-go snack features candied sorrel, candied ginger, coconut flakes and chocolate chips.
The sky’s the limit for Chef Kara Pessoa. She envisions becoming not only a household name but also continuing her mission to cater to a healthy palate, transforming as many lives as possible through scrumptious nutrition.