Next Time You Are At Kodai, Meet George Penner At His Little Abode!
Living amid pear orchids, with bison for visitors, bagels, sauces, jams and jellies for school kids, rescue street puppies, George Penner, and his wife Vera De Jong are a true inspiration and you should make plans to visit Kodai soon.
What Makes It Awesome
Besides all the touristy things you can do in Kodaikanal, we give you a brand new reason why you should go to the hill station. Meet George Penner of Russian origin who was born in coastal Andhra and moved to Kodai in 2007. Phew! He sure has come a long way! He currently lives with his wife, Vera De Jong, an artist, in a secluded beautiful house, amidst pear orchid farms and puppies. Oh wait, and they often have bison as visitors. (He is living our dream).
But what do the duo do in Kodai? Well, they make a wide range of items. They bake bagels, baguettes, sourdough bread, biscotti, chocolate chip cookies, and oatmeal cookies. They make four types of mustard – dijon style, extra hot, full grain, and honey mustard. There are three types of pasta sauce – marinara, arrabbiata, and a pizza/pasta sauce that they make. They also make various dipping sauces – barbecue sauce, chili garlic sauce, and Chinese plum sauce. They ferment chilies for a red chili paste and a red and green chili sauce. All these products are sold under the label, George's Gourmet Kitchen!
If that is not enough, the couple also makes bitter orange marmalade and various seasonal jams and jellies. They try and make all their products organic or with natural ingredients. They collaborate with farmers to source their ingredients. Business was never part of the plan, but things started rolling when George built a wood-fired oven at their house in Kodai. He started making pizzas for school kids. Then bagels, then pasta and it never stopped. We're so glad that it's now a full-fledged business.
In case you are unable to visit Kodai, worry not. Some of their products are online with Amazon. In namma Chennai, you can find them at the Gormei Markets and at Tryst Café. In Pondicherry, they are at Grinde’s and at Bon Appetit. They also courier bagels and baguettes and sourdough bread, overnight, directly to customers in Tamil Nadu and Bangalore. Plus, shipping is free. We cannot wait to order some of their sweet delights!
What Could Be Better
They have not yet opened their little abode for visitors, but we wish that happens soon. Yes, we are greedy that way.
Besides all the kitchen work, the couple also engages in rescuing street puppies. Though it is only a side activity, they have fostered more than 150 or more street puppies in the past few years. They are also working with local animal welfare organization, to provide free or low-cost neutering, vaccinations, and health care for street dogs.