“My customers are served 'A Bit Of Everthing'!,” quipped chef Eugene Paul, the co-founder of ABOE Restocafe in Kaloor, Kochi. From the moment he and his sister, Euphie Paul, decided to open a food spot in one of the liveliest areas in Kochi, a lot of brainstorming happened over the name of the venture. “I did not want to stick to dishes from any particular country. I rather preferred to offer a slice of every flavour to my customers! Hence, the restocafe was named 'ABOE - A Bit Of Everything',” said Eugene.
Eugene's inspiration to start his own food business originates from his 16 years of work experience in the culinary industry. “My exposure to European cuisine while working on different cruise ships and Middle-Eastern delicacies during my time in the UAE has helped me in putting together a menu which has handpicked dishes from various countries and cultures,” he added.
The Kannur-native believes that Kochi is the 'perfect' marketplace for authentic European dishes. “I didn't have to think even for a moment if Kochi would accept our menu. I was sure that people here would give our food a try as we serve original dishes made with fresh and good-quality ingredients, available locally,” said Eugene.
He added that many in Kerala have come out of their inhibitions to try continental food. “Earlier, people used to believe that these food items were over-priced and bland, but now many have understood and accepted the food and flavours of continental cuisine,” he said.
Eugene, who was working at The Oberoi-Trident hotel during the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks, described those days to be his toughest times in life. “I was on the morning shift on that unfortunate day, so I left the hotel by the evening. Many of my colleagues died in the attack. It still sends a chill down my spine when I recollect those days. I left the job and place soon after the incident,” he said.
He added that his family was his greatest support during his hard times. “My mother, Treasa Paul, with whom I am very close, has always been my support system. My father K P Paul used to constantly tell me that every inconvenience caused is for a convenience. Those words helped me a lot of times as soon after I left the Oberoi-Trident hotel, I was hired by cruise ships that facilitated travels to various countries,” he said. He also mentioned that his sister, Euphie Paul, and brother-in-law, Dr Rishi George, encouraged and stood by him at every step of this food venture.
Eugene's travels have left their signature on ABOE's menu. “I am offering my customers the dishes that I have thoroughly enjoyed and loved to cook,” he added.
When asked to suggest some 'must-try' food items on the restaurant's menu, Eugene replied that he wants his customers to try every dish, however, if he had to pick any three personal favourites it would be Montreal-style steak, roast chicken thigh and Vietnamese spicy beef noodle soup. “I would also suggest trying our breakfast menu, which includes full English breakfast, Turkish Cilbir and Chicken Congee, which is popular among our customers,” he added.
Speaking about sourcing fresh ingredients, Eugene said, “It took me some time to find reliable and genuine suppliers who provide good-quality produces. I do not use any kind of substitutes for any ingredient in my dishes.”
“My only secret ingredients are my in-house prepped spice rubs and marinades,” said Eugene.
He also plans to include a few more food items, such as traditional Irish Stew with soda bread, roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, Spanish seafood paella and Japanese ramen bowls, to his menu.