The Curry Diva heats up Highland Grill
It's hard to keep track of Heather Jansz, the Twin Cities' "curry diva," especially now that she's on her own and cooking rogue. After years of cooking in local restaurants, Jansz became a caterer and personal chef, available by request only. For the last couple of weeks she was off in Italy, where she hobbled around small scenic towns despite a fractured foot, taking in the food and the history. Now she's home in Minnesota, resuming her life as caterer to the curry crazed. People seem to hunt down Jansz, seeking out her big personality and soul-warming food. This week, she'll be cooking twice at the Highland Grill, preparing dishes similar to the ones that made the now-closed Sri Lanka Curry House a temple for anyone who's ever had a taste of this self-taught cook's creations.
On Tuesday, from 5 to 9 p.m., she'll be making Nepalese dishes for a charity that benefits women and children in Nepal. The dinner, planned by PLAY It Forward Adventures, a nonprofit that describes itself as an adventure travel company with a moral compass, is $25 and includes several tastes from Nepal. Tuesday's menu includes Aalu Tarkari, a potato curry, that will be served alongside a traditional Nepalese chicken dish.
When asked why she decided to cook at this fundraiser, Jansz sighed, as though to suggest she had no other choice. "You look at the pictures of the kids you could be helping, and they're so cute, and you say, 'How could I not do this?'" said Jansz. Money from the event will go to build sewing rooms in Nepal, with the hope that women will be able to support themselves and their children rather than being forced into sex trade.
Also at the Highland Grill, tonight Jansz resumes her Monday night curry specials after a few weeks off. Each week she fixes a vegetarian curry and one meat option, typically an Australian lamb. Dinner is from 5 to 9 p.m. and has been a popular fixture since she began cooking there in June.
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