By Debbie Hall
Chef Jainine Jaffer blends the scents, spices and flavors of India for a wide variety of regional and traditional cuisines. As one of the head chefs of Origin India Restaurant & Bar and executive chef for its catering business, Exquisite Hospitality, she specializes in Halal, Kosher Pakistani and Indian cuisine.
“The region’s cuisines are quite different especially north and south as well as Pakistan and Indian,” she explained. “North India and north Pakistan feature more savory and sweet flavors using coconut milk, dried fruit and nuts. In the south, the dishes are richer with a lot of spices. I also believe in authenticity and I have traveled to understand and learn about the food.”
Along with menu items from the north and south, there is the trend-setting Indo Chine fusion influence. The cuisine is an adaptation of Chinese seasoning and cooking techniques to Indian tastes, especially with vegetarian dishes.
As for becoming a chef, “it was part of me since birth. I have always had a passion for cooking. Even my mother tells stories that she could not put me down in the kitchen when I was young. She would be stirring the pot while holding me.” Chef Jaffer learned about Pakistan cuisine from her father, who would cook and share stories about his mother’s cooking and how it made him feel. “Food is a very big part of our culture and we share everything over a delicious meal.” She also credits both parents for supporting her goals as well as sharing their love of food.
Chef Jaffer is not the only one in her family in the food industry. Her cousin is working on becoming a pastry chef in Pakistan and her uncle is a restaurateur. But Chef Jaffer is the only female chef in the restaurant and is proud of her goals and accomplishments.
While her specialty is dishes from the southern region, Chef Jaffer is also proficient in Middle Eastern, Mediterranean, Italian, Greek and Moroccan flavors. “I wanted to learn different cultures as well as its cuisines and I have discovered I love everything.”
Born in California, Chef Jaffer was raised in Las Vegas and started out with different career goals. She attended the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for business management and completed her degree in California with a concentration on digital and social media marketing. Chef Jaffer is also certified in event planning and briefly attended school to become a nurse. But she always cooked professionally as a private chef and caterer with on the job training for over 12 years while pursuing other endeavors.
After working in Los Angeles for five years in hotel management, she returned to Las Vegas, “my home and my peace.” Chef Jaffer realized her true passion and calling was cooking and attended Le Cordon Bleu in Las Vegas to enhance her skill set.
While Chef Jaffer remains true to her roots with the menus of Origin India and Exquisite Hospitality; she also wants to emphasize other choices are available. She wants all guests to feel welcome, enjoy the experience and share a little of her culture. That is her ultimate goal.