We sat down with Cheetie Kumar of Garland restaurant in Raleigh to learn more about her philosophy and evolution as a chef.
Give us a short history of how you became a chef:
I made the transition from being a cook to a chef over the last several years because it was necessary. Originally, I wanted a music venue (see Kings). Food became part of it when we had the opportunity to move into our current space, which included a kitchen and dining area. The restaurant gives me another creative avenue in tandem with music.
I evolved from a cook into a chef because I needed to learn how to run a restaurant—to make it sustainable and be a good manager. Having a restaurant doesn’t make you a chef. How you run the business does.
What is your philosophy & inspiration for your cuisine?
My philosophy is to eat and source locally. I want to respect traditions but push boundaries and borders. I believe that to acknowledge cultural evolution through food is very important.
Why do you purchase Firsthand Foods meats?
We knew when we opened the restaurant that we would be able to source local pork and local vegetables. But I had no idea that there was a beef industry in North Carolina until I heard about Firsthand Foods. Until that point, I was worried about having to use commodity sources and also worried about the cost of boutique beef raised somewhere else. When I started getting the Firsthand Foods beef, the flavor and quality and consistency is what I noticed most.
Plus, I love Jennifer and Tina—their philosophy and the fact that they are a female owned business. I see us as partners. It’s a wonderful, satisfying relationship.