Restaurateur couple share recipe for success

David and Ishara Chetty. Picture: Supplied

David and Ishara Chetty. Picture: Supplied

Published Apr 15, 2024


David and Ishara Chetty, who own Doughed, a restaurant in Durban’s Morningside Road, first met in 2015 through Facebook after Ishara sent David a friend request.

After several chats, Ishara, who grew up in Chatsworth, and David, who spent most of his life in Queensburgh, decided to meet in person.

Their first encounter was at Wilson’s Wharf, where they connected instantly and, thereafter, bonded over pasta and drinks on Florida Road. They have been inseparable since.

The couple’s decision to venture into the restaurant industry stemmed from their shared passion for food and hospitality. When they met through social media, their discussions gravitated toward topics related to cuisine, cooking techniques and culinary experiences.

This common interest became evident as they spent more time together, bonding over meals and exchanging recipes.

“While we had successful careers in corporate settings, our love for cooking and sharing meals with others was undeniable,” said Ishara.

“We got completely inspired on our honeymoon in 2018 in Italy. The culture being food-centric was incredible. How effortless the food language in Italy was, no frills, no over-the-top nature.

“You just felt homeliness in the food space. The simplicity and use of quality ingredients stuck with us.

“When we came back from our honeymoon, we started by hosting dinners and fine-dining experiences for friends and family. This garnered a positive response and led us to open Our Kitchen SA, a home-based restaurant operating from their garage.”

“The aim behind Our Kitchen SA was simple yet profound: to create a space where guests could feel at home, surrounded by good food, good company and genuine hospitality.

“We wanted to share our passion for cooking with others, inviting them to experience the joy and warmth of home-cooked meals in a relaxed and intimate setting.

“Whether it was a multi-course fine-dining experience or a casual gathering with friends, every meal served was infused with passion, flavour and soul.”

Ishara and David were raised in families where food played a central role in daily life.

For Ishara, her culinary journey began at home, where her mother’s creativity in the kitchen sparked her interest in cooking from a young age.

While their family primarily enjoyed Indian cuisine, her mother encouraged exploration and innovation in the kitchen, exposing her to a variety of flavours and cooking techniques.

Similarly, David’s upbringing fostered a deep appreciation for good food and communal dining experiences.

Growing up in a close-knit family, he fondly recalled the importance of sharing meals together, regardless of the day’s challenges. His father’s interest in food, including attending a hotel catering course and catering for church events, planted the seeds of passion for David’s future culinary endeavours.

David and Ishara Chetty. Picture: Supplied

“Our culinary inspiration extends beyond our own kitchen to the vibrant food culture of Durban and beyond. From the bustling markets and street food stalls to the diverse array of restaurants and eateries, we draw inspiration from the sights, sounds and flavours of their city, exploring new ingredients, cuisines and cooking styles.

“Our travels have also played a significant role in shaping our culinary perspective, exposing us to new cultures, ingredients, and culinary traditions,” David said.

“It is strange and we know it is not common to see and work with your spouse 24/7 but it works for us. The level of patience and growth that stems from this, we feel gives us an edge. The complete trust in your partner.

“We both are working towards shared goals and are seeing the direct impact in real-time. It is somewhat powerful. We do have the occasional disputes but the commitment becomes stronger.”

Beyond the walls of Our Kitchen SA, Ishara and David’s impact on the food and hospitality industry can be felt in their unwavering dedication to quality, innovation and community engagement.

As pioneers of Napoli-style pizza in Durban, their restaurant, Doughed, has become synonymous with artisanal craftsmanship, culinary creativity and a commitment to showcasing the best of South African produce.

Having opened in January 2023, the couple spent almost a year perfecting their sourdough, so that the traditional hand-stretched pizzas of Naples are spot on.

They do not skimp on their ingredients, working with local suppliers to provide high-quality toppings and even going as far as to import mozzarella and parmigiano from Italy to add to the authenticity.

“By embracing new opportunities, such as the transition to a full-time pizzeria model, we have proved our ability to navigate adversity with grace and creativity, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and evolution.

“Our greatest successes in the food and hospitality industry are not measured in terms of accolades or financial gains, but rather in the countless moments of joy, connection and shared humanity that we have facilitated through our culinary creations and our genuine passion for bringing people together around the table,” said Ishara.

This year, David and Ishara are looking forward to continued growth and success in their culinary ventures.

“They aim to further establish Doughed as a beloved dining destination and continue to delight customers with their creative and delicious pizzas.

“They also aspire to explore new culinary experiences and expand their presence in the food and hospitality industry.