Shweta and her husband live in Silicon Valley but own and run Fire Pizza, a restaurant in Coimbatore, a city in the Tamil Nadu region of India. They manage Fire Pizza from their home base in the US—a venture that makes Shweta’s outside-of-work “downtime” seem quite “uptime” indeed.
For this interview Shweta and I spoke about her passion for her restaurant remotely from our two homes, but her infectious energy and beautiful description and details of Fire Pizza—the “peacock just strolling by” outside the restaurant, the “steam and spices and people cooking up various dishes” in the kitchen—made me feel as if the two of us had been transported across the globe to meet face to face.
Shweta began by describing her first job upon arriving in California, at a campus café, where she opted to clean the dining area so she wouldn’t have to handle meat in the kitchen (Shweta is a lifelong vegetarian). The work itself was not challenging—she was sweeping floors and helping clean the café room—but she both learned about American culture by watching her classmates and received a profound lesson in the dignity of labor. She enjoyed helping people and has carried that pride of work through to her present-day culinary passions.
The remarkable thing is that Shweta herself had never set foot inside her own restaurant. She and her husband imagined and built their labor of love from some 8000 miles away. She told me that she always loved the thin crust wood-fired pizza so prevalent in the US and saw an opportunity to offer a fusion of this style with more traditional Indian toppings and dishes back in Coimbatore. “It does feel really good,” she said, “to have a way of investing back in my home country and having ways for us to create opportunities for others.”
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