Women have over the years broken so many glass ceilings and stormed many male bastions in their quest to prove their worth in all spheres of society. Restaurant kitchens are one of the few places where men still vastly outnumber women across the world, not just in India. This is surprising because women are the ones who are normally doing the cooking in their homes and feeding their families but when it comes to commercial cooking men have been ruling the roost. But like in every sphere in society, here women too, are challenging the long-held belief that men are better chefs than women.
We present to you seven amazing women chefs, some of who are working in top-notch restaurants in Ahmedabad and others who have boldly started their own ventures.
Women chefs in restaurant kitchens in Ahmedabad
Vrinda Menon, a Keralite raised in Ahmedabad is currently working as a sous chef in Millhouse, a posh restaurant in Ahmedabad One Mall. She graduated from IHM Ahmedabad and started work as a Kitchen Management Trainee in The Fern Group of Hotels. Chef Vrinda worked in Mehula, The Fern in Mumbai as a management trainee and then was transferred to The Fern, Ahmedabad as Jr. Sous Chef. She likes baking and patisserie work and has worked mostly in continental and western cuisine kitchens. Chef Vrinda is an ardent biker and is a proud owner of a Royal Enfield Bike. She has travelled 20,000 km up till now. She also loves learning languages and meeting new people.
Chef Zarin Mirza is currently the Corporate Chef for Tomato’s and Dhoom Dhaam restaurants which are part of Ahura Restaurants Pvt Ltd. Chef Zarin studied from culinary arts from Indian Institute of Hotel Management, Aurangabad and went on to work at Masala Bay in Taj Lands End, Mumbai. She returned to Ahmedabad, her home town and worked in Wild Ginger and also taught cooking for a few years before joining Ahura Restaurants Pvt Limited. Chef Zarin has developed an expertise in vegetarian cooking given that those who frequent restaurants in Ahmedabad are predominantly vegetarian. She has been instrumental in conceptualising Dhoom Dhaam restaurant as the core kitchen representative.
An accountant and a cashier by training, Takshila Desai now take care of the food that is served in SandwichworkZ where she serves good home-style food. SandwichworkZ is an all-day café opened and operated by Takshila along with her husband Himanshu Desai. Her personal interaction with guests is the hallmark of her hospitality. Brought up as a vegetarian, Takshila overcame her prejudice for meats and eggs and learnt cooking skills from her mother-in-law and also from several others over her years of living in West Africa, Singapore and the USA for several years where her husband was working. So she picked up culinary skills from several regions. She also worked as a manager in Subway in the USA for three years which led her to become a certified food handler and supervisor. She brought all these skills to Ahmedabad and uses it as SandwichworkZ where you get innovative dishes
Chef Aanal Kotak
Chef Aanal Kotak has also taken a pledge that she will never cook meat. She decided that she will break this myth that vegetarian food can not be tasty. She wants to promote vegetarian food across the globe and so she has started The Secret Kitchen in Bodakdev in Ahmedabad.
Chef Aanal’s vision is to set up 50 restaurants across the world in the coming 5 years. She is committed to this vision and she eats, drinks and sleeps with this goal in her mind.
Multiple award winner, Chef Aanal Kotak feels she wants to take the legacy of world's greatest vegetarian chef Alain Passard ahead. She feels she was unfortunate that she did not get a chance to meet her guru Michelin Star French Chef Alain Passard but now, she is working tirelessly to promote vegetarian cuisine across the globe.
Chef Kalpana Purohit
Like mother like daughter, we have heard this often but in Kalpana Purohit’s case is it like father like daughter. Chef Kalpana is the daughter of well known Gujarati chef and restaurateur Mangalbhai Purohit who started Shree Thaker Bhojanalaya in Kalbadevi Road in Mumbai in 1945 when his Gujarat thali sold for just 3-4 annas.
Kalpana Purohit has taken her father’s vision and culinary skills and started Purohit Thali in Ahmedabad a quarter of a century ago when she was the only cook making all the food by herself. Today, she along with her son successfully manages the business and she still cooks but now she does have other cooks in her kitchen to help her. At 60, Kalpana Purohit is as active as ever. Cooking is her passion and her Gujarati and Rajasthani thali is very much in demand for her home-style food.
Chef Kabyashree Borgohain is from Assam. She studied at NIFT Chennai and did a Masters from NID in strategic design management. It was her passion and love for cooking which started way back as a kid and her background of design education that made her take newer approaches to understand food. Kabya is the brain behind Project Otenga, a place where people can meet and ideate around food. Kabya is interested in food design as a potential lens to the imagination and enriching creativity and she loves food as a medium to inquire into deeper sensorial questions to understand humans. So she does not call herself a chef but a food designer more often because it is about designing end to end solutions around food. At Project Otenga, she basically serves Assamese and North Indian cuisine and gets people to experiment and communicate with food.
When you hear kuch din gujaro Gujarat me, two thoughts come to your mind. First is the colourful culture of Gujarat and the second is the delicious variety of foods available in Gujarat. Chef Nayana at Hotel Ummed makes tasty home-style Gujarati food. Those who love Gujarati food love the Gujarati thali at Hotel Ummed. Chef Nayana is working at this place for over six years and she wants to take Gujarati food to international levels.
A published author working on her second book, Sonal worked for many years as a journalist in The Indian Express, The Asian Age and DNA Newspaper where she regularly reviewed restaurants and wrote about food. She worked in Nairobi as a general manager of a group of restaurants in another era. She loves experimenting with food but is also known for her Biryanis and Kababs and even her baking skills. She likes travelling to little known places and if she finds quaint eateries it just makes the trip more fun. Currently based in Ahmedabad, she is happy with the growing awareness of gourmet food in the city.