People of M Street: Nasera Munshi
Meet Kayne Prime's Pastry Chef, Nasera Munshi. Born in India, Nasera's culinary journey has been a serendipitous and colorful story of passion. Her creativity in the kitchen has paved the way for an award-winning career. Spearheading Kayne's pastry program, Nasera has brought our desserts to the next level, leaving our guests a little sweeter than when they first arrived.
Where are you from?
I am from midwest India.
How did you find your passion in the kitchen?
Growing up, I thought that I wanted to be a Dentist because my dad was a Dental Technician. I even majored in Biology to prepare for dental school. It is really ironic now because I am on the other side making sweets!
I have always enjoyed cooking as a hobby, and it eventually became very therapeutic for me. Someone put the culinary school "bug" in my ear and suggested I make a career out of cooking. I started researching more about it, but my family initially said no. I ended up dropping the cooking school thing.
When my family moved to California, I continued to cook for fun. My dad saw my passion and finally agreed to let me go to culinary school at Cordon Bleu in Pasadena, California.
How did you decide you wanted to be a Pastry Chef?
I wasn’t initially interested in pastries because I enjoyed more of the savory side to cooking. When I went to culinary school I chose to study the program that covered both pastry and cooking.
When I was looking for my first job after completing culinary school, I heard about a Pastry Chef opening at Chef Thomas Keller's Beverly Hills Bouchon restaurant. I decided to apply just to get my foot in the door and figured I could transfer after a while. It just so happened that I ended up falling in love with pastry. Over the course of several years, I had the honor of working as a Pastry Chef with Charlie Palmer along with other amazing chefs in California. In 2014, I was awarded the Top Pastry Chef in Orange County.
How did you find your way to Kayne Prime?
After working in California, I decided I wanted to move to a bigger city like New York. My cousin suggested Nashville since she lives here, and my husband and I decided to move.
Once I came to Nashville, I heard a lot of great things about Kayne Prime. I walked into the door of Kayne Prime with my resume and expressed my desire to work there. They didn’t have a pastry program at the time, so I spearheaded that. It took me about 6 months to change over the dessert menu completely.
What inspires you in the kitchen when you are creating new desserts?
Flavors. I love creating different flavor combinations that stem from my cultural heritage and my culinary background.
What is your favorite item that you have created for the Kane Prime menu?
I love using fresh, seasonal products, so it really depends. Right now we’re doing a delicious apple pie, and soon spring and summer fruits like berries will be in season, so I’ll create a new menu. It’s all about constantly evolving with whatever produce is going to come in.
What is your favorite dish to eat?
My mom’s biryani.
What is your favorite dish to make?
I love cooking everything. My day consists of working at Kayne Prime for 12 hours and going home to cook another 2 hours for my husband. I cook everything from Indian to Chinese food and absolutely love it.
What is your favorite part about your job?
Definitely creating new things, that’s what keeps me going and that’s what excites me. I love asking myself "What am I going to do next? What flavors am I going to put together that are new and exciting?" When I create something I try to think of flavors that unique but still complementary. At Kayne, we want to keep things classic with a little edge.
What is your favorite memory at M Street?
Last year I created a lemon bar dessert that wasn’t as popular as some other desserts. There was one particular gentleman who absolutely loved the lemon bar and wanted to meet me. We talked about his travels and the various dishes he has enjoyed around the world. It turns out that his wife was a pastry chef. When you put your heart and soul into a dish and someone who is well-traveled tells you they appreciate it, you feel really good.
Who do you look up to in the culinary world?
All of the chefs I’ve ever worked with. When I started my Pastry Chef career I was so raw. I didn’t grow up baking cakes and cookies because we didn’t even have ovens in India, so the first time I ever baked was in culinary school. I am so fortunate to have worked with amazing chefs with incredible knowledge and want to do the same thing for someone else one day.
Chef Nasera's passion for her craft can be tasted in every bite of her seasonal offerings at Kayne Prime. From chocolate bombes to custom strawberry cake, Nasera's desserts take guests on a flavor-filled journey that ignites each sense.