$22,554
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
134
backers
22days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, September 10 2018 7:00 AM UTC +00:00.

$22,554
pledged of $50,000pledged of $50,000 goal
134
backers
22days to go

All or nothing. This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Mon, September 10 2018 7:00 AM UTC +00:00.

About

The Dream

My dream has always been to open a restaurant. When I was little, I pictured the dining room of my imaginary restaurant to be very academic, a little dusty and enchanted, like an Ivy League library or a place where somebody distinguished might wear a "smoking jacket." I was hoping for a backyard with a treehouse, where customers take their food from baskets lifted on a rope and pulley. When I pictured the dishes this dream place would serve, I'm sorry to say there was more style than substance: ideally, the food would look like woodland fairy offerings, studded with tiny robins’ eggs and edible moss and blossoms, and it would appear into and vanish out of thin air, like the feasts at Hogwarts. Plus there would be Pad Thai and cheese pizza and dried mangoes, because those were my favorites. My cooking experiments at the time had a tendency to go very wrong and alarm anyone within smelling (or heaven forbid, tasting) range. But that didn't really bother me. The most important thing I knew was that the food would have to be magic, unlike anything the shocked and amazed customers had ever tasted or even knew how to describe. 

Birthday cake!
Birthday cake!

In the years since, I've become a much, much better cook and a slightly more realistic adult. But in essentials, my dream hasn’t changed— The house I grew up in sits only eight blocks away from the house where we are currently building my restaurant, Malka. The word “Malka” means “Queen” in Hebrew. It was part of my given Hebrew name Yehudit Malka (Judith the Queen), and it was the name of my favorite and most glorious dog. Malka the dog was high-spirited and mischievous, shiny black fur, huge brown eyes, always sniffing out snacks or fearlessly and resourcefully making snacks out of odd pieces of furniture or socks. We found her at the humane society when I was seven, and she remained my knuckle-headed companion until I left for college. The restaurant is named after her and also after me as a little girl and all the far-reaching, majestic dreams I had then that I hold onto with affection even now. 

Me and my dog, Malka
Me and my dog, Malka

Carte Blanche

In 2012, in my early twenties, I opened Carte Blanche. Carte Blanche was a food cart in an Airstream trailer on Hawthorne in Southeast Portland. It was a success. 

Jess at Carte Blanche, 2011.
Jess at Carte Blanche, 2011.

For five years, we steadily grew in popularity. The cart became so busy that we had lines of customers everyday and a long string of orders that meant a consistent two-hour wait for food from open to close.

Our menus at Carte Blanche changed with the seasons, and they changed with the lessons and ideas and techniques I learned over years of growing as a cook. I never stop learning in the kitchen; I will always feel like a student, which is part of the reason I love this. And there is so much pleasure in making and eating delicious food. But the real reason to keep cooking is people. 

The idea that food brings people together and gives us common ground isn't a new one, but the truth in it has become the focus of my whole life. Carte Blanche was a very strong example of community for me. People came to us every day with their good moods and bad moods and opinions and appetites and garden tomatoes and aunties and little ones. They chose to spend time with us. And most of the time, they loved it, and so did I. The cart was my education, occasionally a school of hard knocks, but it taught me that I have something to offer. Or even better, we -- my team, my family and I, have something to offer, and cooking for all of you is our reason to keep moving forward. 

Malka pop-up at Mian.
Malka pop-up at Mian.

 The Restaurant (in more tangible terms)

Malka will be a small restaurant in a house between 45th and 46th and Division, right across from The Woodsman Tavern and Stumptown Coffee in Southeast Portland. We will have about 30 seats indoors and eventually 20+ seats outdoors in the back patio garden. 

The Malka House, in the works.
The Malka House, in the works.
Future bar/order counter on the left, seating areas on the right.
Future bar/order counter on the left, seating areas on the right.
Future seating areas.
Future seating areas.

The food will be an extension of everything good at Carte Blanche: colorful, bright, bold, complex, often tropical flavors with lots of fruits and vegetables and fresh herbs. Plus there will be plenty of comfort (aka melted cheese) and crazy sandwiches, crunchy things, sweet, snack-like things, and everything always prepared and meant to be enjoyed in the spirit of fun. 

True to my younger self, I want the food and the space to feel somewhat apart from the usual rhythm and routine of life in Portland. It should be as if you are eating dishes from a vacation spot in a mythical place, like the planet the Little Prince lives on or the kitchen in Howl's Moving Castle. The food is chaotic and unexpected, but above all, it's delicious. 

As with the cart, the menu will change with the seasons, and our most popular things like rice bowls, curries, corn on the cob with tom kha reduction, red mole chilaquiles, sake and berbere mac and cheese, fried chicken and eggplant sandwiches, cookies, and crispy rice salads will be in heavy rotation. 

But! There will be new things too.  Unconstrained by that tiny food cart kitchen, we have more opportunities to stretch our wings and get creative.  In the time between the cart and the restaurant, my team and I did a series of pop-up events to test out new recipes -- things like braised brisket with pomegranate molasses and achiote, chicken matzo ball khao soi, butterfly pea-chickpea fritters with herbal green curry, sticky fried nam prik pao pork ribs with raw coconut cream, and chili lime-glazed fish tacos with dill, pineapple, mint, turmeric butter, and sesame-corn tortillas. The best of those recipe tests will likely find their way onto the opening menu. We are also very excited about working with local farms to source sustainable proteins and as much local/organic produce as possible. 

Coconut Ribs from the pop-up at Mian.
Coconut Ribs from the pop-up at Mian.
Brown butter tortillas from Heather & Tony's wedding.
Brown butter tortillas from Heather & Tony's wedding.
Fish Tacos from the pop-up at Mian.
Fish Tacos from the pop-up at Mian.

We are also building a beautiful little bar with a curated bar program, consisting of delicious, refreshing cocktails to pair with our food. Our bar manager Adam understands the food as well as anyone can, and he is a genius with cocktails. This bar is a big deal for the restaurant financially, plus it's fantastic fun. There will be rotating slushies (!), beer, wine, cider, bubbles, maybe even coconut-guava jello-shots if I can talk Adam into it. 

Singapore Sling Slushie from our pop-up at Güero.
Singapore Sling Slushie from our pop-up at Güero.

The concept for interior and exterior decor is based mostly on my childhood imagination. There will be a garden with seating in the backyard, plants and lights and climbing vines everywhere. It will feel overgrown and romantic. The inside of the house will be cozy and colorful, like the food, with art deco wallpaper and Moroccan tile patterns. The style will nod to the 1920s, the era when the house was built. I want it to feel like a living room from a dream or an old movie, with good music and warm, glowing light. It will be beautiful, and a little bit unusual. I hope that people walking in will feel transported. 

We will be open for lunch and dinner five days a week (at first), and once we've found our feet, we hope to launch a brunch program. With all the brave and gracious employees working at Malka, we will build a fun, inclusive work environment. We will provide a good living wage, equal distribution of tips, delicious family meals, and as much additional support as we possibly can.

The Money

The truth is, we cannot bring any of this into reality without first raising a lot more money. Our primary investors saved up to buy us this house and transform it into our restaurant. Construction is under way, progress is steady, and we are getting closer all the time. 

But in order to open our doors at all, and then to keep them open, we need to furnish the dining room and patio, pay our staff as they prep for our opening week, stock the pantry and bar, buy our first round of fresh ingredients, and make sure everything is ready.

A restaurant needs a buffer, usually a few months' worth of operating costs in the bank, so that we can find our footing as a business, refine our systems, and adjust as necessary. In the first few months of being a freshly minted restaurant, without a reserve of capital, one piece of broken equipment or an unexpected snowstorm can paralyze and destroy the entire operation. 

This is where Kickstarter comes in. We need as much support as we can possibly get, and every backer will help bring us closer to opening Malka, making the restaurant better and stronger in our early days. 

I plan to build Malka into a place that can stay open for years and years. Maybe even generations. I imagine Malka in the future as a beloved fixture of the neighborhood where I grew up, serving food just blocks from the house where I was once a little kid dreaming about a magic restaurant. 

We will feed the neighbors and travelers and our amazing regulars from Carte Blanche. We'll cook for students after school and people who need cheering up and people who need to try something different. Honestly, I'd cook for everybody if I could. I want to cook for you. I think we can give you an experience. We have something very special to offer, and it won't stop being special as time passes. If we work extremely hard and keep a spirit of generosity and fun in the house and in the food, Malka will be amazing. 

Rewards!

These are just a few examples of some of the rewards we are offering.  Please check out the rewards section for the full list.

Malka Magnet.
Malka Magnet.
 
Cookies!
Cookies!
Chai kits by Tanvi from www.thehathicooks.com
Chai kits by Tanvi from www.thehathicooks.com
Malka t-shirt & apron.
Malka t-shirt & apron.
Margaret Gallagher Print.
Margaret Gallagher Print.
Margaret Gallagher Print.
Margaret Gallagher Print.
"Where We Go" LP by Animal Eyes (Colin's band)
"Where We Go" LP by Animal Eyes (Colin's band)

Risks and challenges

Opening a restaurant is hard, and it's dangerous. We've already overcome lots of challenges (city permitting was a big one), and there will be many, many more, and they won't stop after we open.

Portland already has so many good restaurants. The Woodsman across the street and Kim Jong Grillin directly to our right are both amazing places to eat. I love eating at both spots and will keep loving it forever.

The competition is steep. But at the same time, the community of restaurants and chefs and owners here in town is staggeringly, unstoppably warm and supportive. There is a place for us here in town, and no one has made me feel that more deeply than other industry friends and chefs who are technically my "competition." Plus we are not in direct competition with our incredible neighbors, but rather we add to the draw of this small, quiet few blocks of Division.

We also have the advantage of a very loyal and numerous following from our days as Carte Blanche. I know I can count on these hundreds of wonderful regulars to come eat with us and forgive us our stumblings in the first few months as a restaurant.

Our biggest challenge, and my favorite, is the concept of efficiency. Basically, we need to run Malka as a tight ship with systems for everything. In a business with such small profit margins, efficiency and resourcefulness are important in every facet (prep time, food storage, dining room layout, shift responsibilities and multi-tasking, inventory and ordering, training, menu-planning, food-buying, scheduling, etc).

But the biggest trouble we had at the cart was we could not efficiently cook enough food all at once to feed all of our customers in a timely manner. This is getting pretty detatiled, but I'm gonna go for it:
It took six minutes to make one rice bowl at Carte Blanche; we had six burners, so we could only make six rice bowls at once (six every 6-10 minutes). But we would get twenty tickets at once, most of them with multiple entrees. Hence the reason our wait times piled up so quickly, and given the space restraints and the nature of our food, there was really nothing we could do about it. Plus, these dishes are very prep-heavy, and we only had the one kitchen, so we needed to close down part of the week to prep.

At Malka, we have designed and are building a much larger kitchen. We will be able to have some employees prepping things like sauces and crispy shallots while other employees are cooking on the line at the same time. The kitchen will have four stations (rather than two), which will allow us to put out 3-4 times the amount of food at once. We are in much better shape, and I can't wait to start cooking in this kitchen!

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    Family Member

    With everything I’ve got, thank you.

    It’s a big deal that you chose to be a part of this restaurant, and we can use every single dollar we can possibly get to make this happen. I cannot wait to cook for you.

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    Magnets are Awesome

    You will be sent a thank you note and a Malka magnet for your refrigerator or your other metal objects. It will be magnetic, as you would expect, and it will be very useful.

    This reward is $10, plus the cost of shipping

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    Cookies!

    You will be sent an official document that thanks you for your gift and entitles you two of our cookies as soon as we open (or any time thereafter). These cookies, which we often had at the cart, are made by Malka’s very own Colin McArthur. Past cookies of his have been chai-spiced with chocolate cake chunks and sesame brittle or toffee and pretzels and potato chips and coffee grounds. Colin’s cookies are always salty, sweet, crunchy, gooey, and ridiculous.

    We will also include a Malka magnet with this reward.

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    Crispy Shallots

    This is the all-purpose, all-powerful garnish of Carte Blanche (and the future Malka). This entitles you to 8oz of home made crispy shallots, which will be tasty on salads, in curries, stir-fries, braises, rice, sandwiches, and almost every other savory thing. Sent to your door.

    I will also include a Malka magnet and a recipe with my method for making your own crispy shallots at home once these run out, plus some ideas for how to use them.

    This reward is $35 plus the cost of shipping

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    Salt and Palm Sugar Rosemary Pecans

    To thank you for your support, you will be sent 8oz of completely addictive rosemary, chili, sea salt, lime leaf pecans toasted with palm sugar. Throw these into any salad, a bacon sandwich, roasted carrots, bake them into an apple cake, sprinkle them on ice cream, or just get in there and munch on them unabashedly.

    I will also include a Malka magnet and my personal recipe for a stone fruit salad with coconut lime vinaigrette and these pecans.

    This reward is $35, plus the cost of shipping

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    Pop-up music mix

    We will give you a flash drive loaded with over four hours of our favorite music that we play at pop-up dinners, while we’re prepping, and every chance we get.

    Shipping not available for this item. Local pick-up or drop- off will be arranged via email.

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    Custom Print

    This reward is very dear to me personally.

    You will receive two beautiful 11" x 14" custom prints by the lovely illustrator and artist Margaret Gallagher, plus you’ll get a cookie or dessert when we open.

    Margaret wanted to help us and offered to make these beautiful illustrations, and I couldn’t be more delighted with them. For those of you who loved our little cart as much as we did, these illustrations are a reminder of where we came from. Thank you, Margaret, and thank you, backers, for helping to take us where we are going next.

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    Important Helmet for Outer Space

    This entitles you to eat a rice bowl on the house, once we open. But before we open, you will get a full detailed recipe for the most popular dish at Carte Blanche. This is our rice bowl with Thai roasted sweet pork or crispy glazed tofu (you'll receive both versions and can request the vegan version if you like). This recipe will include instructions for every element of this dish, from the coconut jasmine rice to the pineapple tamarind slaw and the pickled peppers and crispy shallots. Happy cooking! This is an impressive dish, and can be made ahead and assembled to order for dinner parties or potlucks. These are my secrets, ready for your perusal.

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    Crispy Rice Salad and Recipe

    This salad was a happy cooking accident that quickly became many customers’ favorite thing. Puffed rice, fried chicken in lime-fish sauce glaze or chili-hoisin glazed tofu, berries in summer, apples in fall, cara cara oranges and pomegranate in winter. Ginger, lemongrass, greens, sliced cashews, pickled things, fried lime leaves, and on and on. This salad is versatile, and every bite is different and surprising. You are entitled to one of these when we open, and before that happens, you’ll be sent the full recipe in all its chaotic glory (both fried chicken and vegan tofu versions)

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    Malka T-Shirt

    You will receive a T-shirt with our beautiful logo. Please specify your preferred size and style.
    You will also receive a Malka magnet with this reward.

    This reward is $60, plus the cost of shipping

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    Elaborate Snacks, Dessert for two

    No nonsense, just treats.

    You will receive via mail a voucher for chef’s choice snacks and treats at the restaurant once we open. Bring a friend!

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    Music

    Little-known fact: Malka Chef de Cuisine Colin McArthur and I (Jessie) met through music. In our youth, his band and my band used to play shows together. Colin is an accomplished bass player, and I am a singer. This very personal reward entitled you to the vinyl record Where We Go by Colin’s band Animal Eyes, plus four digital downloads of songs I’m singing in the band Ocean Age and on my own.

    This reward is $75 plus the cost of shipping, which is a bit expensive because of the special record boxes.

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    Malka Apron

    You will get a beautiful apron screen printed with the Malka logo, to protect you from danger and pomegranate stains on your cooking adventures. You will also receive a Malka magnet with this reward.

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    All the Cookies.

    The Carte Blanche cookie is based of the famous Momofuku Compost Cookie recipe in New York, but it’s got some twists that we feel bring it to a new level of outrageousness.

    This reward is for people who live anywhere in the Portland Metro area/Beaverton.
    You will receive Colin's perfected cookie recipe, plus a half dozen giant balls of frozen cookie dough delivered personally to your door, so you can bake them at home at your leisure. This recipe is a powerful asset, as long as it's executed according to Colin’s careful directions, These cookies are flashy showstoppers, and they always trump any other baked goods within a 50 ft. radius.

    No shipping, local delivery to be arranged via email.

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    Pickles!

    Our talented and mysterious bartender Adam is also a master of pickling and preserving. This reward entitles you to an assortment of his unfailingly beautiful pickled or preserved fruits or vegetables. It may be preserved figs in clove gastrique, pickled corn relish with sweet peppers (my personal favorite),summer peaches with honey-meyer lemon syrup, strawberry-rhubarb jam, crunchy pickled chili-dill green beans, , chow chow, preserved lemons, kimchi cauliflower, deeply complex pickled beets and fennel, taquería pickled carrots and jalepeños with oregano and red onion, homemade sauerkraut with mustard seeds and apples or something else entirely. His pickles are always genius. And we’ll confirm with you which particular pickles and preserves you’d prefer.

    No shipping on this reward. Local pick-up or drop- off will be individually arranged via email.

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    Snack pack!

    This is my favorite reward. I love snacks. If you buy this one, you’re not only supporting my restaurant, you’re also giving me a personal treat.

    I will get to go to my favorite markets (Lily Market, Fubonn, Russian Elegance, La Bouffe, Tienda Santa Cruz, for example) and pick out an assortment of sweet and savory snacks for you. I promise I’ll do a good job. Not to brag, but I know how to navigate snack aisles. Expect things like muscat grape gummies, Khao San chili-lime coated peanuts, pandan-coconut custard cakes, guava candies, puri mix, praline bars, honeydew milk chews, cumin chickpea crisps, pistachio-apricot halva, honey butter potato chips, tarragon soda, adobo flavor corn nuts, and I should stop listing things. If you love trying new snacks, please get this reward. I won’t let you down.

    No shipping available. Local delivery or pick-up to be arranged by email.

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    Fizzy drink and a Meal

    This reward entitles you to make a reservation at our restaurant, which will not normally take reservations. At your table, we’ll serve you a very special non-alcoholic drink (Kickstarter rules) of your choice made by our gifted bartender Adam, and a few very special plates sent to you by our kitchen. This will be redeemable anytime beginning one month after our opening day.

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    Family History

    You will receive a framed, printed menu from our opening night, signed by the whole crew, a photo of us after our first dinner service, photos of the food we served, plus a personal letter from me. A piece of our history.

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    Pantry Starter Kit

    This is a basket of my go-to pantry ingredients that I cook with all the time and use to build flavor. Expect to see things like coconut cream, palm sugar, mushroom seasoning, toasted rice powder, cane vinegar, black cardamom, chili-lime salt, pomegranate molasses, achiote paste, and nutritional yeast.

    I’ll include ideas for how to use them and some simple recipes to get started.

    Shipping not involved, we will arrange local delivery or pick-up.

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    Movie Night!

    This gives you one invite to a small after hours movie-watching party in the restaurant, date TBD. There will be at least three kinds of crazy popcorn, tossed with things like brown butter, lemongrass curry, nutritional yeast, aged gouda, fried shallots, nori, sweet soy sauce, salted peanut brittle, hot sauce, palm sugar caramel. Other snacks, refreshments, and treats will also be on hand. We’ll clear out the tables, set up a projector, fill bowls with candy, and cover the floor with lots of cushions and cozy blankets. I’ll send out a poll beforehand to figure out a movie that suits all of us, but I’m thinking something like Edward Scissorhands, Howl’s Moving Castle, Witness for the Prosecution, Roman Holiday, Amélie, The Wrong Trousers, something along these lines. Or we could watch something scary. We’ll take a vote.

    Side note: this party will be a long-time dream-come-true for me. Can’t wait.

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    Soft Opening Party

    Come hang out at Malka before we open. We’ll make lots of food and beverages, our friend and DJ Joshua Justice will spin records, and we’ll celebrate the beginning of Malka.

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    3 Course Meal for Two

    Once we open, we will reserve you a table at Malka on a date and time of your choice. This reward entitles you and one other person to a lovely chef’s choice meal with snacks, entrées, and sweets. Also, something fizzy to celebrate. Your dietary preferences and restrictions will be accommodated, of course!

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    Your own personal dish collaboration

    At the cart, we gave our dishes ridiculous names. And we plan to continue this baffling tradition at the restaurant. Some of my favorite dish names over the years include: Muriel, I Can't Find My Vest (This was a salad, I think?), the Important Helmet for Outer Space (a rice bowl), The Noodle Incident (noodles), the I Have A Lot of Feelings (this was definitely a curry), and Best Friend Soup (potato-leek with mushrooms).

    This reward lets you design a brand new dish with me for Malka, a special dish that uses some of your favorite ingredients, and then you get to select the name. The name can be anything at all, as long as it's safe for innocent eyes to read and order. It could be named after you, your cats, your bike, a magic trick you know, your tv hero, a weird bug you saw, your offspring, or your favorite shape of noodle. Anything you like, really. Your dish will be on our menu for a whole week, you will be treated to one on the house, and it’ll have a candle in it, and it will be a great week.

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    Pledge US$ 250 or more About US$ 250

    5 Course Meal for Two

    Once we open, we will reserve you a table at Malka on a date and time of your choice. This reward entitles you one other person to a lovely chef’s choice 5-course meal with snacks, entrées, and sweets. Also, something fizzy to celebrate. Your dietary preferences and restrictions will be accommodated, of course!

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    Pledge US$ 400 or more About US$ 400

    Dinner for Four

    Once we’re open, we’ll make you a reservation at Malka on the date and time of your choice, and you and three friends will be treated to a six-course, family-style meal with all the stops pulled out.

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    Pledge US$ 500 or more About US$ 500

    The Four Seasons

    This entitles you and one other person to four reservations at Malka (which is exceptional because we will not usually take reservations), once every season for a year. You won’t have to wait for a table or stand in a line. Each one of these four occasions, you and your friend will each be treated to an entrée and a small plate from the kitchen.

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    Pledge US$ 750 or more About US$ 750

    Cooking Class at Home with Jess

    You, fellow culinary enthusiast, will cook at home with me, and then we’ll enjoy the results.

    The class will be held on a date that works for both of us, in your home kitchen (even if it’s tiny like mine, we’ll figure it out). You may include as many as two other aspiring chefs in your entourage- any age or experience level is welcome. In fact, little ones are encouraged to participate.

    You will choose your favorite dishes for the class. We’ll discuss via phone or email what we feel like making, and I will provide the ingredients, recipes, special equipment, beverages, and guidance to get a feast for up to six people on the table.

    You will also recieve recipes for the dishes we decide to make together!

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    Pledge US$ 1,000 or more About US$ 1,000

    Wow!

    First of all, thank you. This is a lot of money, so I would like to tailor this reward to your specific preferences. As a baseline, I can offer a private cooking lesson, four reservations and meals at Malka once every season for a year. But if you’d prefer a combination of other rewards, we can put together a package that fulfills your Malka-related dreams. A small private dinner party or an all-inclusive basket of treats and t-shirts and Animal Eyes vinyl, the sky is the limit to reflect your generosity. Thank you so much!

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    Pledge US$ 30 or more About US$ 30

    Chai Kits

    This reward is very special. One of our dearest regulars at Carte Blanche travels sometimes to India and collects spices while she's there. After her latest visit, she and I designed some wonderful kits that include the ingredients and recipe to make her family's chai, passed down through generations. The kit includes Indian tea leaves and chai spice blend, plus a curated selection of chai drinking snacks (chai dunking biscuits and spicy snack mix). Tanvi is a very talented cook, and these beautiful spices combined with her expertise in Indian flavors make this a truly delicious chai. The full recipe is on Tanvi's blog: http://www.thehathicooks.com/how-tomake-best-chai-ever/

    These kits will be waiting for you at the restaurant in December or January at the latest, following Tanvi’s trip to India!

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