The culinary arts are an ever-growing, evolving and ingenious piece of work. Famous chefs worldwide have been known to create and craft the most impeccable dishes, savoury or sweet, from scratch. Regarding creative imagination, there has been little to no shame in trying out the most exquisite yet bizarre ideas. India is home to several such chefs renowned worldwide for thrusting the culinary experience for Indian dishes as well as for some adaptations. Among these household culinary chefs, a few revered female chefs have also carved a name for themselves.
Growing up in Mumbai to a Punjabi family, Garima Arora initially pursued a career in journalism before pursuing the culinary arts. After graduating from the Le Cordon Bleu in Paris in 2010, she learned from the best, Gordon Ramsay, Gaggan Anand and Rene Redzepi. Later, she inaugurated her restaurant, Gaa, in Bangkok in April 2017, only to be awarded a Michelin Start in November 2018! This made her the first Indian female chef to receive the distinction, and later in 2019, the restaurant Gaa debuted on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list at no.16.
In a heavily saturated market, Chef and Founder of Miam Patisserie Bani Nanda scoped out the need for creating popularity for French Pastry. “My aim was to popularise a neoclassical style of presentation, but at the same time, I wanted to keep the spirit of classic, year-old recipes alive. I wanted to experiment on people’s palates, and I found myself feeling incredibly lucky when I saw that all of Delhi embraced me and my brainchild, Miam.”
Pooja Dhingra is yet another chef whose father and brother are both restaurant owners, and she learnt the art of baking from her aunt while she was still young. After enrolling at a law school, she later switched careers to attend a hospitality and management course at the Cesar Ritz school in Le Bouveret, Switzerland. Working at Le Cordon Bleu, she came across her first macaron at one of Pierre Heme’s patisseries. The drive to create Parisian-styled culinary experiences gave birth to ‘Le15 Cafe’ in South Mumbai. Her admirable kitchen skills whilst being a dynamic businesswoman have made her feature in national dailies. Forbes India has also selected her for their ’30 Under 30′ achiever list for 2014. The ‘macaron queen’ has also successfully published two books – ‘The Wholesome Kitchen: Nourish. Energize. Indulge’ and ‘Big Book Of Treats’.
She is co-owner of “Cafe Diva” and “Latitude 28”, famous Italian restaurants in Delhi. Another Indian culinary chef and expert in Italian cooking is Chef Ritu Dalmia. She was born in Kolkata to a Marwari business family. Where she joined her family business of marble stone, and her work led her to Italy, this was when Ritu developed a taste for Italian cuisine and started to dig into it further. Aged 22, she started her first restaurant ‘MezzaLuna’ in Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village, which was unfortunately unsuccessful. She runs ‘Latitude 28’ at the Alliance Francaise and ‘DIVA Piccola’ at Hauz Khas Village. Ritu Dalmia has hosted the NDTV Good Times special series ‘Italian Khana’ and has been awarded the Order of the Star of Italian Solidarity by the Government of Italy in December 2011 as well!
Madhu W Krishnan
Encouraged by her parents to create a profession in hotel kitchens, Chef Madhu W Krishnan started with the coveted management training programme at ITC Hotels. She was privileged to have worked with professionals who empowered her, and all her monthly salary was spent on buying tomes authored by the French masters: Roger Vergé, Michel Guerard etc. Chef Madhu is the first woman in India to be awarded the Hotelier India Award and National Tourism Award for Best Lady Chef of the Year by the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations.