A flavory talk with Celebrity Chefpreneur Rakhee Vaswani
All her dishes are garnished with two secret ingredients; her affection for food and a topping of her pretty smile! Creating miracles with food isn’t something you can learn, you either have it or you don’t. It’s a mix of talent, passion, determination and of course, precise culinary and business skills. She is Rakhee Vaswani, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained celebrity chef. She spreads smiles with her culinary dishes with the show ‘Rewind with Rakhee’ on Living Foodz and 4 other TV shows including ‘Quick Bites’ on Food Food. Rakhee takes true pleasure in every dish she creates. She has authored a cookbook called ‘Picky Eaters’. She was also the brand ambassador of Hershey’s India and her presence is counted as one of the brand ambassadors of Anmol Jewellers for their ‘Women of Substance 2017‘ campaign. Rakhee added one more badge to her chef coat with the incorporation of Palate Culinary Academy in July 2016, with the first-of-its-kind-UK-certified Vegetarian Culinary Award Course in India with top chefs from Mumbai’s best restaurants teaching in her esteemed panel.
Rakhee talks about food, her entrepreneurial journey and her future plans in an exclusive chat with The CEO Magazine’s Editor Pooja Kundoo.
From being a chef to an entrepreneur, how has been your journey?
It was a long journey and I am glad I made it through. I would refer it as an extremely enriching experience since I learnt life lessons that I will carry with myself to the very end. There were days when I would want to give up but thanks to my family, especially my husband that I made it through those days and attained what I am today. I have always been extremely passionate about cooking and baking. My culinary expeditions abroad helped me realize the huge gap between the east and the west in terms of culinary experiences. I wanted to teach and bring together the best of both worlds and bridge this gap. This led to the incorporation of both my baby ventures which include Palate Culinary Studio and Palate Culinary Academy. From starting with cooking classes at home to opening a garage over a decade ago, it is extremely humbling how Palate Culinary Academy is now an International Culinary Centre with the first ever UK-Certified Vegetarian Culinary Program in the country. This bedrock idea has helped me cultivate this experience and bring the high-end standards of one world and the extraordinary talent of the other, together. It’s overwhelming how teaching has helped me get closer to this dream. There is no turning back as we have now established ourselves as the one-stop shop for all kinds of culinary dreams!
What is offered at Palate Culinary Academy?
We offer 150+ one day workshops that are extremely dynamic in nature covering everything possible under the umbrella of cooking and baking happening on a day-to-day basis at my first baby venture i.e; Palate Culinary Studio. My second venture, Palate Culinary Academy on the other hand has 3 feathers adorning its hat already within a span of one year. This includes UK-certified Culinary Programs which is authorized by CTH (Confederation of Tourism and Hospitality) and UK-certified Patisserie Diploma authorized by City and Guilds. Additionally, we also conduct high-end advanced customized classes, corporate team-building programs, culinary demonstrations by extremely renowned chefs including Le Cordon Blue Chefs and a variety of events and shoots happening on a daily basis.
Was there anything that you thought you wanted to do before you started cooking?
I always wanted to be a professional chef. If not a chef, I’d definitely enter the field of the other two things I’m passionate about – Make up and Dancing.
What foods you crave the most and you’re secretly obsessed with?
I love rice. I crave Biryani pretty often. It’s my absolute favorite and honestly, it’s no secret!
Is there one secret room that you’re most excited about at Palate Culinary Studio?
A childhood comfort food that you think about….
Dal chaawal – the Ultimate comfort food.
Is there a chef you admire the most? Who and why?
Gordon Ramsay for being a true chef in all its essence, being vocal about his intentions which in-turn makes the product’s outcome perfect! Another person I look up to is Nigella because her food portrays through her eyes and has a very unique and personal touch to it.
What is your favorite aspect of being a CEO?
The favorite aspect of being a CEO is the sheer thrills of establishing something you are as passionate about as I have witnessed my dreams come true to life in front of my eyes! I am a workaholic by nature and this helps my cause as I love going to work every single day as it is an innate part of my existence.
How do you learn in your life and what is your biggest dream? Who are your peers?
My family has been a constant support for me throughout my career. My husband is my best friend as he has been the biggest driving force in my life who keeps me grounded and motivated. Of course, there are a number of chefs who have been extremely supporting. This includes Chef Adil Khan and Chef Mitesh Rangras who have been of great support as well.
What do you hope to accomplish within the next year from personal as well as professional point of view?
We are planning to launch an International Culinary Diploma in the coming year along with a number of other interesting projects. Personally, I want to just learn a little more, work a little harder and be a better person with every single day that passes by. I believe in taking one small baby step at a time.
What is the hardest thing about being a CEO?
As a CEO, you have certain visions for your venture in the long run but you cannot deny that running an institute comes with leading people who come from different walks of life and possess a different vision and thought process. It is extremely challenging to streamline these ideas towards one direction to attain the ultimate goal.
What is the best thing about being an entrepreneur?
The sheer joy of experiencing your vision comes to life.
Give me one word that describes you the best.
Thanks for this beautiful conversation Rakhee. What advice would you like to give to the young people who are just starting up?
Three pieces of advice that I would give to youth would be:
- Understand that there is always space for new content in the market as long as there is true passion and freshness in your idea.
- Chasing your dreams knows no age! Trust me as this is coming from personal experience. Believe in yourself and understand that passion knows no age.
- There is always so much happening in the industry! You’ll always have miles to go and many more dreams to chase. Believe that every single day is a new learning curve, so act like it and stay grounded.