In an exclusive interview to Restaurant India, Chef Rakhee Vaswani, shares her journey in the world of food.
At a very young, Chef Rakhee Vaswani realised that she has a strong palate. If food was not tasty or appealing to her, she could simply go to the kitchen and cook up something delectable with the help of her mom, aunts and neighbours.
Having realised her capabilities and passion at a young age, she had no formal training, but always found solace in the kitchen and picked up talent from home-kitchens. This has helped her grow into a culinary expert with a strong base. Coming from a Sindhi background, probably formal training wasn’t the correct way to go at that point, but her partner knew she needed it sooner in life. This is why her journey begun from always being self-taught to earning a Le Cordon Bleu certificate. Working with French chefs, going behind kitchens always motivated her in a positive way. . She started her home-cooking business; shut it down to be a hands-on mom. A few years later her kids wanted her out of their hair n that’s when her third baby was born – Palate Culinary Studio.
Tell us about your journey at Palate Culinary Studio?
Being scared as I was since I was coming into the industry after 8-9 years, I gathered all my knowledge and opened a small studio in a garage. Being technically challenged, social media and SEO were alien to me. I never had to use them in the start of my career and I can proudly say that it is the work that speaks for you. Having started with 10 one-day workshops to 100+ today, from a garage to a premium boutique studio, from having students aged 5 years to 80 years and having home makers to celebrities as my students to even professional bakers now, I’ve done it all and I’ll keep teaching, because I want to go down in history as the best teacher since it comes to me naturally. Today I’m a culinary expert, cooking and baking teacher, food consultant, professional chef, food blogger, TV show host, and author of my own cookbook.
What according to you is the latest trend hitting Indian food industry?
Food is going through a massive change. People are more open to exploring flavours on their palate unlike before. People are widening their horizons by going out and eating; especially Indians. The trends like those of small plates, tapas, a lot of fusion food east meets west has been taken to the next level to increase the wow factor in presentation and not only taste. Presentation and food on the whole is at its peak!
As you are a celebrity chef, according to you what is that particular thing that is very much promoted in India?
Food per say is promoted on a very large scale according to me. There are way too many home-chefs and home-bakers. Besides, who thought food bloggers would exist and be a fad in them. The leaps and bounds that they have crossed in making a living out of food, and a lot other branches of the culinary world like pop-ups, workshops, online portals, online food-ordering, online learning how to cook etc. has taken food through the roof. It’s amazing how this industry has given so many people job opportunities that never even existed before.
What is some unique strategy that you follow while playing with your flavours?
I believe you need passion and a strong palate and the ability to enjoy whatever you’re doing – That is the key ingredient. Playing with flavours is my forte and if you cook with passion, playing with them will just come to you naturally.
Which is your favourite restaurant in India and why?
My husband and I literally sniff out places to eat from no matter where we go. It could be a small or big restaurant, we try everything. My all-time favourites are Yauatcha, Saffron, Thai Pavillion, Saayba, Mahesh Lunch home and the latest to join the band wagon is Pa PaYa and Farzi café in Delhi. Another one of my latest reviews were Imli in Delhi, which is another great experience.
Tell us about your future plans and innovations.
Palate Culinary Studio is a boutique cooking school with a lot of hands-on approach. We have 3 different work stations, which I learned from my experience at Tante Marie (Gordon Ramsay Institute) - the industrial, state-of-the-art induction unit and fancy hob. The concept at palate is to give students a blend of home concepts and give them a professional experience. We impart knowledge of ingredients, equipment and bring them in touch with dealers as well so no stone is left unturned.
I look at myself running a culinary institute and teach Indians how to become professionals in this world not just by cut copy paste, but by giving them a space and environment to explore their culinary talent right here in their city without having to go abroad.