In this series, we are interviewing members of our club, so that you can get to know each other a bit better. Today we talk with Goda and Himanshu Pant about their lives and work in the region.
What brought you to the French Riviera?
I, Goda, wanted to live in France probably since 2014, as soon as I finished culinary school in England but faith led me to travel a little.
And then (finally) in 2019 December we, me and my husband Himanshu, drove to the Côte d’Azur all the way from Lithuania.
But our plan to make our dream come true – Live in France and open a Food Truck here – started in 2017.
While we were living in Norway we learned French through Duolingo and during cold Norwegian winters we were dreaming about warm weather in the South of France.
Ok, I see how that might be confusing 😅
I am Lithuanian and Himanshu is India. We both spend two years living in Norway before we decided where in France we want to live.
We knew that Norway was a temporary stop, but France – for long term.
Why France and why Côte d’Azur?
Well, we wanted to live somewhere near the sea but also close to the mountains as we both love hiking.
And La Côte d’Azur is a unique place which has it all. And of course, France is the capital of the culinary world and as we are both chefs – that’s perfect for us !
Could you tell us about your professional career? What do or did you do for work?
I went to culinary school in Portsmouth, England. Worked in various restaurants and high end hotels in England, Abu Dhabi, Norway and France.
Most interesting place I worked was a fort in the middle of the sea. It’s situated between Portsmouth and Isle of White, called ‘No Man’s Fort’.
It was my first job in a real restaurant, right after I finished culinary school. That place was so unique! Originally it was build as a fort to defend the dockyard and now it is a luxury hotel.
As I’ve mentioned before, after culinary school I wanted to go to France. All kitchen hierarchy and most of kitchen work was created in France. Actually even here by French gastronomy father August Escoffier.
I don’t want to spread wrong information, but there is his museum in Côte d’Azur about exactly that to better understand his huge influence.
So I thought this is best place to get experience!
As naive fresh from school as I was, I started to apply to restaurants with Michelin Stars, without even knowing French language!
Spoiler, No I didn’t got a job 😅
But one chef offered me to try my luck with English chalet companies in the French Alps. So that’s what I did and I worked for one season in La Tania ski resort.
Loved to work there, it was my first time living in France and It was amazing!
Where we met (not in France)
As I was still looking for my self and not knowing what I want from life, I continued traveling.
I got a temporary job in Abu Dhabi to work in Michelin Stared chef restaurant, stayed there only couple of months, but I met my husband there!
From there I moved to live to Norway and worked in local tavern for a season, where I learned a bit of Norwegian cuisine and culture.
After I worked in an amazing hotel in Oslo mountains which is a bit of a luxury hotel. In this hotel I got the opportunity to learn all about deserts and even became responsible for preparing all the dessert for hotel and restaurant.
My last work before becoming a food trucker was in the Martinez Hotel for a season and got to experience working in a busy French restaurant with French chefs.
Which was stressful!
I can now really see the difference between chefs in other countries and France. Not in a bad way, but here are chefs incredibly proud of their profession and do their utmost best!
I was already a foodie from a young age and well remember cooking with my mum and grandma. In school I already decided that I wanted to be a chef and work in the kitchen.
When I finished the culinary university my experience as a chef started. I worked in various restaurants and hotels, one of the most interesting one was a Japanese restaurant. There I worked with professional Japanese chefs, who were strict and disciplined.
With them there was no chance for a mistake, It had to be perfect, or you do it until it is perfect. I learned to make traditional sushis, teppanyaki and gyozas. Soon after that I was offered to work in a pre-opening of a hotel.
When I was cooking with my mum I had a lot of freedom to create different dishes. And in this hotel pre-opening concept, I had a lot of freedom to do things my way as well.
There was no chef before me who had already created a menu which I had to follow – it was like a blank canvas.
Since then I worked only in pre-opening hotels in India until I was offered to work in pre-opening hotel in Bahrain.
That’s when my culinary adventure started.
Start of culinary adventure
I worked in Kampneski hotel in Bahrain, then this company transferred me to Dubai. Ultimately finished my adventure in Middle East working in St Regis hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Working in all these hotels in Middle East gave me culinary international exposure. I worked with chefs from all around the world (Italy, France , Germany, Thai, Arabic, Vietnam, Filipine) and products I have never seen before.
Which gave me experience, knowledge and that made me more creative in cooking.
While working in high-end hotels I had a possibility to meet and cook for famous people. One of which was most important for me because he is the famous chef called Marco Pierre White.
After the Middle East I went to work in Norway, where I was working in the restaurant of famous Oslo Opera house as well.
I did also one pre-opening of Norway’s famous hotels – Clarion. Where I worked with Swedish Michelin Star chef – Marcus Samuelsson.
Also the time when I worked there I got the opportunity to create a menu and cook for UN delegation lead by Angela Merkel.
Not long after we moved to France and here our food truck journey began.
What does your company do?
Wild Lime is a Mexican Asian fusion food truck. We are opening in October 2023 and we will be working all over Côte d\’Azur.
We will be serving lunches in Sophia Antipolis and attending various festivals. You can also book our food truck for your private party, such as: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, brunches, team building parties. Basically whatever you can think of!
If our truck can fit in your driveway – we can serve you delicious, spicy, zesty street style food!
It’s not that we only provide food – it’s an experience.
And it is the FIRST Mexican Asian fusion truck on Côte d’Azur!
As we ourselves are a small business, we want to support other local small businesses as well. We will sell local beers, and our food will be made from local produce!
Why did you decide to start your own business?
When we moved to the French Riviera, we already planned to open a food truck here.
We worked a long time in restaurants and hotels. It is time for us to unleash our creativity and show what we can do!
But that’s not only reason.
As we worked in various places, we noticed big problems with food waste. And other aspects that are not environment friendly, we decided not to support it.
Also this type of job is difficult physically and mentally. So if we are gonna work our guts out in this industry, we better do that for ourselves 😁
What is your best advice to others thinking about living or working on the French Riviera?
Be a tourist before you start living here.
When we came here, we did travel around a little before we started work. Now we always say we will go there in weekend or try to pick a date.
But as we live here, we change our plan often as we always say “We live here we can come any other time”.
I live close to a perfume factory which you can visit for free but still we have not been there. That just one example of many.
When we joined this club in 2020 we thought it was just a group on facebook.
But after a couple of months, when we saw what engagement Robin and Josh puts into this club, we knew it’s more than just a group.
It is the perfect combination of casual and professional meet ups. We can see the growth of Business Club since 2020 when they were doing a meet up once a month in just the main cities. Now we have more and different meet ups and more different locations.
That can mean only one thing – EVERYONE LIKES IT!
Fun facts about Goda and Himanshu Pant!
Since when do you live on the French Riviera?
Since 10 December 2019
Where are you originally from?
Goda Pant is from Lithuania and Himanshu Pant from India.
What languages do you speak?
We both speak English and French(‘ish).
Goda also speaks Lithuanian and Himanshu Hindi!
What is your favourite wine?
For both – Sauternes. We love sweet wine and this one is not too sweet and not bitter.
What is your favourite spot on the French Riviera?
Goda: I don’t have one. I love Èze, Saint Paul de Vence, Valbonne, Gourdon, Menton, Cap d’Antibes. Cannot choose one!
For Himanshu straight forward – Èze.
What French word do you find difficult to pronounce?
For Goda – as we are on the Côte d’Azur and this word is used more often then anywhere else, in French or English.
‘Yacht’ is most difficult to pronounce and reason is the way we pronounce in my own language. I don\’t have that much difficulties with any other word.
As Himanshu is a native Hindi speaker, basically all haha.
The alphabet and pronunciation is completely different that his mother tongue language, he has difficulties with most words and specially the ones with the letter ‘R’.