Touted as the 'Desi Nigella' of India, Celebrity Chef Rakhee Vaswani is a culinary expert and owner of Culinary studio and Academy.
With over two decades of experience in the culinary business and her natural gift for teaching she has catapulted Palate Culinary Studio from a small mom-and-pop shop to a state of the art international cooking school where she trains budding chefs, amateurs, professionals and food enthusiasts alike, all within 4 years’ time! Excerpts from the interview:
Brief us about your journey.
Honestly, I feel I began my culinary journey at the tender age of 11. I used to keenly observe my aunts cook delicious food. I literally used to be that curious kid who used to trouble each and every lady in our society till she won't let me cook/bake with her. I am also a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef. I started off late but right now I am extremely content with my two baby ventures including Palate Culinary Studio and Palate Culinary Academy which is also the first ever CTH Center of the country along with a UK-Certified Vegetarian Culinary Course. It is also a one-stop shop for all your culinary dreams. We provide UK-Certified Programs, One-day workshops, Culinary Demonstrations and literally anything under the sun that you can call a culinary experience. I wrote my first Cookbook a year ago and I am currently the Executive Editor at BBC Good Food India. I am constantly working on new ideas and new projects for television channels like FoodFood and leading Magazines like BBC Good Food India for which I am a columnist, Better Homes and Gardens and Femina among others.
What are the recent trends in the F&B sector you are noticing?
In recent times, I love how sustainable and healthy eating habits are trending in the industry. People are excessively becoming conscious about their eating habits and their consequences. It is extremely important as people are now realizing the truth behind, 'You are what you eat.' I also feel that in the past couple of years, people have become more accepting and open to experimenting as customers. Recent trends in the market like keto-friendly food, gluten-free food, vegan food or for that matter usage of hemp seed oil are revolutionary in nature. It is incredibly humbling to be able to witness these massive trends and be a part of them.
About your academy, what do you aim out of your students?
The key idea behind my academy was to bridge the gap between the east and the west. Having trained abroad, I came to realize how difficult it is to adapt what you learn there in the comfort of your own kitchen back in India. I also began realizing the unabridged passion I felt for teaching. This made me realize that there is no better way to change this situation than to provide a Glocal platform for budding chefs and entrepreneurs to pursue their passion (age no-bar). We believe in hands-on training that is extensive in nature. We ensure that each and every student gets a first-hand exposure into the offerings of the culinary world including its digitalization. This includes customized consultations for each and every student in a manner that post the completion of their program; we help them bridge the gap between their vision and the offerings of the industry, hence making us a one-of-a-kind entrepreneurial centre.
Being a celebrity chef, how do you think that TV has revolutionized the whole culinary platform?
TV definitely plays a significant role in increasing the mass appeal of the culinary industry. Reality shows have made the culinary world increasingly approachable. From a time where it wasn't a profession known to the masses to becoming the most sought after career option, it's amazing how the whole culinary platform has evolved. Culinary shows have taught us, changed us and changed with us. To add up to the same, digital platforms have largely revolutionized the way we perceive food. With Food videos being the go-to viral content of the current age, I highly feel there's no turning back.
Tell us your future plans.
Well, there are a lot of interesting projects that I am experimenting with and working on to make cooking and baking universal in nature. I love the fact that digital world has broken barriers across the globe. I am constantly trying to make the best of it. I want to create a niche platform for people of all ages in cooking and baking. Palate Culinary Studio and Academy does this by bringing in a plethora of local as well as international chefs from different parts of the industry to come forward and share their unique set of skills. Well yes, hopefully expanding my academy into a university is on top of the list!