Nupur Arora, or Chef Nupur, as she's popularly known, didn't come to New York to pursue a degree in culinary arts. In fact, she came here 25 years ago to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology and was a fashion entrepreneur for many years, creating custom clothing for her clients.
Back in 2016, she stepped away from her custom clothing brand and started diving into food - sharing live home-style Indian food cooking demos on social media. Making curry in a kitchen in Queens was really how this brand started.
Some students from New York's Columbia University reached out to her and wanted her Indian home-style meals, as there weren't too many vegetarian options for them there. She catered those as a hobby from her small kitchen in Queens and really enjoyed it. That's when she started thinking seriously about doing this full-time.
Several tiffin box requests later, she decided to get some back-of-house culinary training, which led to the launch of Namaste Food and Bev Corp in 2020, to make Indian spice blends for easy Indian cooking.
The pandemic struck in March 2020, and she found herself at a loss as to how to continue creating spices blends from the shared kitchen without being able to travel there anymore. Around the same time, a Long Island resident requested her to make food for his aging parents who happen to live in her neighborhood of Rego Park. She agreed immediately as she understood his helplessness of wanting to care for his parents but not being able to do so due to the lockdown.
One thing led to another, and gradually many local families started ordering home-style meals from Queens Curry Kitchen. In due course, Nupur also started bringing free food to families affected by the pandemic.
Since April 2020, Queens Curry Kitchen served not only COVID patients and their families, but have also been fortunate to serve mothers who have undergone surgeries, families with patients under treatment from cancer, or other family members who have been physically challenged and unable to find access to a meal cooked with love. Chef Nupur’s meals have helped those with financial hardship, emotional isolation, and medical challenges to restore their faith in hope, humanity and love from their neighbors.
Queens Curry Kitchen has also made revenue contributions to India (with the HUNGER HEROES Project) where the second wave of COVID brought loss of human life and medical system collapse all at once earlier this year.
In May 2021, the New York Post featured Queens Curry Kitchen as one of the best businesses to emerge in the pandemic, but Chef Nupur says “I'm only doing what feels right! I continue to serve paying customers from my weekly meal plans, but I make it a point to share with them, with deep gratitude, the power of their dollars and the impact of their choices on local businesses like mine. I firmly believe as a community we can give each other so much support no one should feel left out. And when God raises your standard of living raise your standard of giving!”