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In Focus | Aman Dosanj

In Focus is our gift to the community. A way for us to help show our recognition for the people, businesses, and organizations that help make our city great. The team at KelownaNow.com is passionate about this community and the people that make it amazing. We want to show our friends, neighbours, family and colleagues that we notice them and the fabulous things that they do.

What is your name?
Aman Dosanj.

Where are you from and how long have you lived in Kelowna?
I'm from Southampton, England, and I have lived in Kelowna since 2008, after jumping over the pond.

Who is your favourite person to spend time with and why?
My niece, she's pretty special. At nearly three years old, she's a ninja in the kitchen and her eyes just light up when you ask if she wants to cook or bake.

If you could go anywhere in the world right at this moment where would you go and why?
It's officially been a year since I headed off into the clouds for seven and a half months of edible adventures, so I am itching to do it again. I would go to Peru or Brazil and stay with either of my friends that I met during Slow Food's Terra Madre in Italy.

What is your favourite local store in Kelowna and why?
I can't pick just one! There's Okanagan Grocery, Sandrine French Pastry and Chocolate, and Lois Lane Warehouse. All are independently owned by really good people with great stories.

What is your favourite activity?
Adventuring and hiking.

If you had to choose: pizza, tacos, or burgers?
Pizza.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?
One of my favourite Poppadoms memories was when I was living the 'server life.' I built a good relationship with the family, and then the dad turned to me and asked if he can ask me something. He asked: 'Where did you learn your English from?' I'm from England!

What is the most inspiring thing that has happened to you?
Going traveling for seven and a half months and letting go. I had my round-the-world ticket and only the first two nights accommodation booked. The universe led me to some inspirational people that made me a better me.

Tell us your favourite childhood memory.
My gran had always lived with us and she was the only grandparent we'd ever known. My granny would make the best samosas, but when we were growing up, we never really appreciated that. We used to ask her to make samosas without the filling. Then we'd eat our crispy pastry with ketchup. When we'd go to people's houses, they'd give us all samosas. Then one-by-one, the three of us would dump out our potato filling onto Mum's plate and she'd have this mountain of potatoes. We'd eat our pastry and ketchup. We went on to own a farm-to-table Indian restaurant for six years - Oh how we've come a long way! That memory was one of the reasons my food memory project started. Food is truly a way to show how we're all connected.

Where do you volunteer or give back to in the community?
All throughout my seven and a half months of travel, the plan was to do some good and give back. I volunteered with food banks around the world: Slow Food, OzHarvest and Second Bite, which are two food waste re-distribution companies. They have really shaped me as a cook. After coming back to K-Town, I volunteered with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) for three weeks and it was one of the best experiences ever. The kindness that I had experienced at the Wellness Centre was amazing. I am currently planning a fundraising dinner for International Women's Day, where I brought together five female Chefs and female Okanagan Winemakers from across the Okanagan. All of the profits, after operating costs, are going to the CMHA Kelowna and Slow Food Thompson Okanagan.

If you could change one thing in the world what would it be?
I believe that people are people, so everyone deserves to be treated like a person. When you take the time to talk to someone and listen, you're going be amazed by how brilliant people are. I would change the fact that people may look at a person, but not see them.

What is your favourite activity in Kelowna?
Adventuring.

Where would you sneak away to in Kelowna to spend some time alone?
Canyon/Crawford Falls, or usually I find a tree and just sit there with a book.

Where would you like to see positive change in Kelowna and why?
I would like Kelowna to support more independent and family-owned businesses, especially restaurants. It's sad when great places choose to sell or close their doors and Cactus Club, Moxies and Earls are packed.

What do you think makes Kelowna great?
The purity of the produce and how many amazing family-run businesses we have here.

What are 3 things on your bucket list?
1) To explore more of the world and continue with 'Say It Like You Eat It', popping up in more places around the world;
2) Become Anthony Bourdain's little sidekick, or for my edible stories to be published;
3) One day, I'd really love a place to call 'home'.

Tell us something that not everyone may know about you.
I was born with a silver streak in my hair. Apparently, the nurses paraded me around the ward saying I was gifted. My siblings use quotation marks to say 'special'. I was hoping for a lightning-shaped scar on my forehead.

What is the name of your business/organization?
The Paisley Notebook.

Why did you get into/start this business?
I wanted to show how food connects us. Food has become something that we just do, rather than us valuing the experience. So that's what I try to do with my pop-up dinners across the Okanagan. I'm an edible storyteller, each dinner tells a different story

What is the goal of your business?
To make people smile and to get people to think about their food and where it comes from.

What has been your biggest struggle either in work or life?
Figuring out where I belong after moving to Canada.

If you could start all over again would you do things the same or would things be different?
The Paisley Notebook was my opportunity to start over. After selling Poppadoms, I traveled and fed people. My food memory project, called 'Say It Like You Eat It,' let me see and experience the world in a special way.

What do you always find yourself saying?
'Food memory.'

If you could spend one whole day with anyone in the world who is currently alive, who would you select?
If you were to ask about a person who wasn't alive, I would easily say Dr. Maya Angelou. She was such an extraordinary woman. I love watching her videos and reading her books. But, as the question is about a person who is currently alive, it's got to be Trevor Noah! He is making it more and more difficult for me to ever date again. Funny, intelligent, a smart-ass, handsome - and someone to have a deep conversation or debate with. OK, that sounds like something that should appear on a dating website. Hmm.

Why do you think it is important to shop locally?
It's better for you, your family, your community, and the planet. Knowing where your food comes from, how it's been grown or raised and getting to know the person behind it is so important. It just means so much more when it's independently owned.

What has been your proudest accomplishment?
I was the first British Indian, male or female, to play soccer for England (I did it before a boy too). I was knocked back, had to deal with stereotypes and people questioning gender roles, but I learned I can do anything I put my mind to.

Give someone you think that deserves it a shout out and explain why!
Mona Johannson (Sunshine Farm), Dana Ewart (Joy Road Catering), Jenna Pillon (Terrafina), Sandrine Raffault (Sandrine French Pastry and Chocolate). Thank-you for believing in my International Women's Day dinner idea and for saying yes!

My choice for the KelownaNow In Focus spotlight is:
Stacey from Okanagan Grocery.

Some general comments I would like to share are:
I'm just someone that was supposed to cook for people. It's such an easy way to make people happy. My grandma used to say, 'If you cook from your heart, people will come.' Every one of my 'Say it' pop-ups have sold out, and even though I've been gone for quite some time, it's really special when people sign up to an event that they know nothing about and I don't post my menus. I like when there's that level of trust with the person who's cooking your food, and I know every ingredient that is in my food. I also love watching how awkward people are when they first sit at a communal long table, but once the first course comes out, and there's a drink or two, it becomes about the food and everything changes. That's the magic of food and I'm feeling so inspired, the ideas are just flowing. I'm creating my own path in the food scene and it's exciting.

We encourage you to leave your comments and words of support below and submit your own nomination by clicking HERE. You are also welcome to submit a form of your own by clicking HERE. Thank you, Kelowna.



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