Archive for June, 2014

Cabello Spa and Salon

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Dunbar’s Day Spa
Cabello Spa, reception - PallaMediaWhile some people search a lifetime to find their calling, others seem innately wired to know what theirs is from a very early age. Such is the case with Olga Sarmento, the owner of Cabello Spa and Salon.

When Sarmento was very young she began giving haircuts to her dolls. She says there was no motivating reason, there were no hair stylists in her family to role model, she simply felt inspired. By age 11 she had moved on to living subjects and to this day she still cuts hair for some of these clients.

Sarmento is originally from Portugal but was raised in Canada. The name of the salon “Cabello” is the Portugese word for hair. Just as she was driven to follow her dream of cutting hair for a living, Sarmento also had aspirations to work for herself and own a salon.

Cabello Spa, Olga Sarmento - PallaMediaShe began her hairdressing career thirty years ago in Kerrisdale. Sarmento is honoured to have won many competitions for women’s and men’s haircuts, colour, fantasy hair, and makeup.

In October 2003 she opened Cabello Spa and Salon in its current space. The building was newly constructed and she was able to design her dream spa and salon. The floor plan (3,600 square feet in total) is incredibly spacious. The salon is located at the entrance, where five busy stylists and two assistants are hard at work.

An internal glass door separates the salon from the spa. Once you enter the peaceful spa you will find relaxing earth tones, beautiful new dark wood floors, and comfortable seating areas. The numerous rooms housed in this area include showers, massage rooms (a room for couples’ side by side massage is also available), a sauna and steam room, a new water therapy room, and work stations for estheticians to provide manicures, pedicures, waxing, facials, lash and brow tinting and makeup application.

Two of Cabello’s spa packages include the Cabello Couple steam for two, simultaneous therapeutic relaxation massage and refreshment. The Mediterranean Escape will make you feel like you have escaped on a mini holiday to Portugal’s Algarve beaches with an organic exfoliation, Vichy Rain therapy, a relaxation massage finished with a Cabello deluxe manicure and pedicure.

Dulce Paisana, is the spa’s director and she is Sarmento’s sister. She worked alongside Sarmento when the salon was being constructed, a time they recall sharing sweat and tears. She brings to the business 15 years of experience as an esthetician.

Sarmento is a driven business owner who works incredibly long hours, and puts in an average of 80 hours a week. She loves to travel and combines this passion by attending international hair shows to continually keep on the ‘cutting edge’ of her industry.

Cabello Spa and Salon has a wide range of clients from all age groups. They see a number of children; plenty of women and approximately 35 percent of their clientele are men. They also see a fair number of patrons who utilize both the salon and spa services in a combined visit. Clients come from as far afield as White Rock on a weekly basis. Sarmento says, “Cabello is a like a downtown salon without the astronomical prices.”

What are this season’s trends? The influence of ombre remains popular, drawing on its less kept and imperfect look. Cuts of the moment are about texture and waves, soft looking with body. Sarmento says, “too perfect” is not in style. That should be a liberating feeling for anyone who has been a slave to styling (and an added bonus, it saves you time in the morning).

Sarmento and her staff strive to keep the line of communication open with clients. Hair is so much a part of our identity, and allowing a stylist to cut or colour comes from a place of trust. She does not believe in cookie cutter hair colouring, and with this in mind she mixes unique colour combos for each client, and says no two formulas are the same. Sarmento does not write down the colour mix as she likes to discuss what the next fresh look will be when her client returns.Cabello Spa, 3518 W 41 - PallaMedia

At Cabello Spa and Salon people arrive happy in anticipation of what lies ahead, and leave feeling great about themselves after receiving a terrific cut, colour or spa treatment. Sarmento says that is one of the most rewarding aspects of her job.

It is apparent why clients return regularly to see this vivacious stylist. It is a rare individual who makes you feel it’s all about you. She listens and takes the time to understand your needs. She is thrilled to hear when a customer goes home and doesn’t feel the need to wash her hair. We have all experienced that disappointment, and to know she has pleased a client puts a huge smile on Sarmento’s face.

Cabello Spa and Salon
3518 W 41st Avenue
Vancouver BC V6N 3E6
Telephone 604-267-4247

Handi Cuisine of India

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Handi Cuisine, 4432 Dunbar, dinner - PallaMediaA friend recently joined me for dinner at Handi Cuisine on Dunbar Street. It was her dream that this article could be ‘scratch and sniff’ as we recalled the assorted delicious tastes and fragrances that drifted through the restaurant that night.

Amar Maroke owns Handi Cuisine. How did he derive the business name? A handi is a traditional clay pot used to prepare gourmet Indian cuisine.

Maroke is a restaurant mogul of sorts, as he and his family own 13 restaurants throughout British Columbia. He arrived in Canada with his family in 1993 from Mathura, a city in Northern India, and the next day he was working in his uncle’s kitchen.

He told me that although his family settled in Canada in the late 20th century, his great grandfather had lived here from 1904 to 1914 when he worked at a mill near the Port Mann Bridge before making the long journey home by ship.

Handi Cuisine - Amar Maroke - PallaMedia

In addition to being the proprietor, Maroke is a chef, although these days he is on the front line running two of his businesses. In total he owns three Handi Cuisine locations (Burnaby, Vancouver and West Vancouver) in addition to Akbar’s Own on West Broadway (which he purchased 3 years ago and his wife Mamta Maroke manages), Alexandra’s Bistro in Nanaimo, and his latest enterprise, Masala Junction, which opened at the end of April in Port Moody.

A memorable way to welcome the turn of the century, on January 1, 2000, Maroke opened his first business, Masala on Dunbar Street (which he renamed Handi Cuisine in 2009). Along with the restaurant came one of the company’s assets, Richard Schwan, who is a server extraordinaire. Maroke jokes that his loyal, extremely knowledgeable and kind employee is sometimes mistaken for his father. In fact, Schwan hails from Peru.

The warm and cozy space on Dunbar is decorated in earthy and golden tones with a number of paintings done directly on the walls. The atmospheric background music is at a low enough volume to allow for easy conversation.

The menu is extensive with an array of chicken, lamb, seafood, vegetarian signature dishes including Prawns Goa Curry, Lamb Rogan Josh, Eggplant Bhartha, as well as appetizers (pakoras, samosas, Aloo chat) and desserts.

The most challenging part of the evening was narrowing down which tempting dish to select, so I left that decision to the expert. Maroke recommended the Butter Chicken, which he says is one of the most popular menu items. He told me I would be happy and as if to confirm this, a customer walked by the table, smiled and agreed as she was taking home an order of the same dish. My companion, who is a vegetarian, selected the Palak Paneer (homemade cheese cooked with spinach, onions and Indian spices). We also ordered the homemade garlic naan and a Kingfisher Indian beer for good measure. We were excited to see our entrees arrive in individual custom-made chafing dishes. A small candle keeps the dish warm, allowing you to relax and savour your meal, rather than race to it eat before it cools down.

As we dined, and exchanged “yum” comments, we watched a dramatic Tandoori Sizzler being delivered to another table. It reminded me of the wow factor of a fajita dish on a hot skillet in a Tex-Mex restaurant I worked at years ago. Sizzling meals have a way of attracting attention.

Handi Cuisine, 4432 Dunbar, interior - PallaMediaThe Handi Cuisine kitchen has five staff hard at work. The handcrafted meals are prepared from scratch, including the sauces and naan bread. The chef is capable of creating meals for special diets with advance notice, and there are many gluten-free options available. On busy nights Maroke and as many as four staff attend to clients. In addition, the popular home delivery service keeps three drivers busy. Prior to the restaurant opening at 4 p.m., Maroke sources vegetables in Chinatown and then makes deliveries to Akbar’s Own and Handi Cuisine. He also manages the company’s bookkeeping.

In addition to sit down dining, take out and delivery, Handi Cuisine offers clients a unique in home catering service. A chef will come to your house or event and cook from your kitchen. They have catered for small groups (40) and very large groups (2,700 was their largest catering gig, and required a team of 35 staff to manage).

During the summer the menu remains the same, however a few lighter dishes and salads are introduced as daily specials.

Handi Cuisine - 4432 Dunbar - PallaMedia

 At the end of April Maroke launched his latest restaurant, Masala Junction, in Port Moody. I wondered how he oversees so many businesses. He says, “I love meeting new people and it depends on how you take your job.” He enjoys the time he spends working, and therefore it is not stressful for him. He concludes, “It is a combined effort of the right team. This is not a one man show at all.”

As for my friend and I, we left Handi Cuisine feeling very content and look forward to returning again – very soon.

Handi Cuisine of India
4432 Dunbar St
Vancouver BC V6S 2G5
Telephone 604-738-3186