Ambika Menon, the owner of The Black Cat Cafe, shares with The Yum List how she got into the industry and some interesting stories from behind the scenes.
What do you do and how did you get into the industry?
I am the founder/owner of Holistic Arogya Sdn Bhd – a holistic health centre set up in 2011 offering natural therapies for various ailments. Our modalities include authentic ayurvedic treatments, yoga therapy, naturopathy. We set up Arogya Physiotherapy in 2016 to complement the natural therapies we offered. We believe that modern therapy combined with traditional treatments enhance and hasten the healing process. Opening, The Black Cat Café – a pure vegetarian café offering multinational cuisine with vegan options – was a natural progression.
My passion for natural healing inspired me to set up the holistic centre. My late mother who was a firm believer in the healing power of herbs and cures from the kitchen was the main inspiration.
Share with us a story from behind the scenes.
During a colon hydrotherapy session, one of our clients, a 47-year-old man was shocked to see bright multi-coloured gunk coming out of his system. He could not figure out what caused it and when the doctor probed about his food habits as a child, he mentioned that he had a penchant for crayons and while in kindergarten had eaten boxes of crayons. According to the doctor, undigested food, crayons, coins and other foreign matter can get stuck in the intestinal walls and stay put there for years – that was quite a revelation.
What’s the best/ worst part of your job?
The best and rewarding part of the job is when clients express their gratitude, share how we were able to help them in pain management and enable them to enjoy a better quality of life. The worst is when people come with very high expectations and express disappointment when they do not see immediate results, they become verbally abusive and threaten to expose us on social media.
What’s your favourite meal/ drink at The Black Cat Cafe?
I am a born vegetarian and it’s very heartening to see more people, especially the younger generation, adopting a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle. The Nasi Kerabu and Ginger Fizz are my favourites at the café.
What’s one of the stressful things you’ve experienced behind the scenes?
The most stressful experience I had was a cake order that was overlooked as I had mixed up the dates. An order was placed for a child’s first year birthday a month in advance, I had planned and designed the cake to the smallest detail. On the 30th at 4.00 pm the client was at the café to collect the cake and I was all the while thinking that 30th was the next day. The staff called and I went into panic mode, gave all kinds of excuses but promised that the cake would be delivered to her by 6 pm. I did not know how I was going to do it but told myself that I had to calm down, meditate and visualize the cake would be ready by the promised time. I proceeded to organize my thoughts ready to bake a 3kg cake with matching cupcakes. The cake batter was mixed and baked in an hour, I had less than 45 minutes to ice and decorate the cake, the challenge was that the cakes had to cool completely, even the slightest warmth causes the icing to melt. The aircon and three fans were on full blast. I managed to cool the cakes, iced in a record time of 20 minutes and delivered the cakes at 6.30 pm.
The perfect day off would be…
A perfect day – over the years experience has taught me that there is no perfect day. Every day can be a perfect day by living in the moment, being positive, accepting people for who they are, not having high expectations from others, giving 100% to whatever we do and not being affected by people’s opinion about us.
What do you do for fun?
My fun time is spending time with my family especially my children who are my biggest supporters and critics – they support me in everything that I do and apart from my mother they have been my greatest source of encouragement and inspiration all these years.
What’s in store for you in the upcoming months?
Holistic Arogya and The Black Cat Café has been a dream come true for me, the initial sweat, tears and growing pains have made it all worthwhile today. We still stand by our mission and vision to give the best to society without compromising on the quality of our service or the food that we serve.