A Lubbock chef and farmer made it on a national cooking show with one of the original chefs known for cooking shows.

Pooja Hegde started Saffron & Spice a couple of years ago here in Lubbock. When she started she wanted to do things a little bit differently, making it a popup eatery.

"We usually set out menus on Tuesdays for pickup and delivery on Saturdays. Our menus go out through Thursdays, but we get sold out before, so you gotta be on it. It's been amazing," said Pooja.

If you didn't know Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world, with 1 pound costing between $500 and $5,000. The reason for its high price is its labor-intensive harvesting method, which makes its production costly. Saffron is harvested by hand from the Crocus sativus flower, commonly known as the saffron crocus.

Saffron is cultivated chiefly in Iran but is also grown in Spain, France, Italy (on the lower spurs of the Apennines Range), and parts of India.

But now it is actually growing in West Texas too, thanks to a local farmer named Karl McDonald with Meraki Meadows. He reached out to Pooja and they began to work together.

Emeril John Lagassé III is an American celebrity chef, restaurateur, television personality, cookbook author, and National Best Recipe award winner for his "Turkey and Hot Sausage Chili" recipe in 2003.

He now has a show called Emeril Cooks. His team reached out to Karl wanting to do an episode about saffron. Karl said he would love to do it but wanted Pooja to be a part of it.

Emeril's team came out and filmed Pooja cooking and Karl farming. Little did they know a couple of months later after the team left Lubbock, Emeril would want them to fly out to New Orleans.

Saffron & Spice
Saffron & Spice

"I was blown away. So I have attachments with New Orleans because we lived in Louisiana for 16 years. So going back home, and going to see Emeril, you know he's the GOAT of food shows. So it was just nostalgic. We all made the trip there, and he was such an amazing down to earth person. I cannot even begin to tell you," said Pooja.

The show aired on February 15th, 2024 for season 4, episode 3 called 'Saffron from the South.'

"After the show, we gotta eat everything. I was eating and when I started talking to him, I looked down and my plates were gone. My daughters had picked up the plates and they were having at it. He spoke to my family, and he spoke to them about their passion for cooking. He asked me about how the journey got into saffron and spice and it's been an amazing journey,"  said Pooja.

Now Pooja is looking towards the future and expanding into some new things, like making her food out of Amicis in Lubbock, cooking classes, and the new Saffron Club.

The new club will be kind of like a wine club. You will have a card on file and however often you want Saffron & Spice to deliver to you, they will. You will also get a 10% discount on anything Saffron & Spice and free delivery. If you want to sign up you can email Pooja at Contact@saffronandspicelubbock.com or call (806) 999-2455.

"The main thing is I could make Lubbock proud. It just touches my heart that I could do that. We're involved with a lot of charities and a lot of events. I just think making an impact over here because these people have given me so much love. It's just amazing how much love I can get from one place and some people," said Pooja.

You can find out more about Saffron & Spice on their Facebook page. Keep an eye out for the Saffron Club launches the first week in April.

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