Since time immemorial, women have been known to cook scrumptious meals in their home kitchens. However, the kitchens generating business, or restaurants in layman’s terms, have been largely ruled by male chefs and restaurateurs. Women restaurant owners for one reason or another have always been a rare breed. This stands true not just for India but the world over.
Breaking the stereotypes, women are now taking their culinary skills outside their home kitchens and are using their talent and entrepreneurial drive to take major strides in the hospitality industry. This year on Women’s Day we raise a toast to such exemplary and strong women heading the culinary and hospitality space in India. These are some inspiring women restaurant owners, chefs, bartenders and even consultants that are changing the way the industry works one ingredient at a time.
Women Restaurant Owners And Chefs That Are Shaping The Restaurant Industry In India
1. Ritu Dalmia
One of the most famous women restaurant owners, the name in itself says it all; she is an Indian celebrity chef and a restaurateur and has been cooking since her childhood. She is known for her exquisite Italian cuisine style cooking and her molto chic cafes in Delhi’s up markets like G.K 1, Chanakyapuri, and Khan Market etc. Her superlative and imaginative fine dining cooking enthrals patrons and keeps the customer’s coming back for more.
2. Veena Arora
The face behind the authentic and exotic food at The Spice Route, the South Asian restaurant at the Imperial New Delhi is the chef de cuisine Veena Arora who is not only a self-trained chef but also cooks with her instinct and experience. She had developed the love of cooking naturally right from her childhood when she was trained and raised in Thailand, where she helped out with her brother’s restaurant. 1980 brought her back to India when she got married and given her talent and explicit urge to cook; a friend suggested her to join the hospitality industry.
3. Puja Sahu & Vivita Relan
This duo of women restaurant owners started their restaurant in Delhi’s famous cultural and foodie hub Shahpur Jat, The Potbelly Cafe which is Delhi’s first ever Bihari restaurant. Their idea embedded into vision has broken all the regional and cultural stereotypes, offer mouth-watering delicacies and great ambiance with rooftop experience.
4. Chiquita Gulati
Co-owner and chef at Spice Market Saket, Chiquita Gulati is another woman who has moved forward with sheer determination and hard work. Chiquita is a multitasker, and overpowered by her professional desire when studying hospitality at Les Roches Switzerland; she decided to join and support her husband Sumit Gulati in his family business of Gulati Restaurant, Pandara Road. She also has won the Top Chef Award Season 2 in the standalone category for north Indian cuisine.
5. Roopa Gulati
Known as “The Good Morning India Girl” Roopa Gulati is a renowned chef, food editor and also a TV host with NDTV Breakfast Show. Her all-encompassing love for food and cooking has made her cook each and everything right from a chocolate cake to a biryani.
6. Shatbhi Basu
Shatbhi Basu is India’s first lady bartender, and also a food and beverage consultant breaking multiple genders and career stereotypes. Choosing a profession that has had her deal with skepticism, she marched forward with enthusiasm and is currently heading a bartending academy called “STIR” in Mumbai which started in the year 1997 and also provides a pioneering platform to those who want to become professional bartenders.
7. Anjum Anand
Popular TV Chef and a British Indian Food Writer, Anjum Anand is known for her exclusive and amazing cookery books and food writing and also for her love and interest for Indian cuisine. She has starred in multiple TV Shows such as UKTV’S Great Food Life and BBC show Indian Food Made Easy and has been regularly contributing to Times India Food pages.
8. Avneet Mann & Vivita Relan
The famous Italian cafe cum shop, “The Wishing Chair/Mad Teapot at Shahpur Jat, was a result of childhood friendship of Avneet Mann and Vivita Relan. Their team and ideas are innovative, and the cafe is known for providing a quirky and relaxed experience for its patrons.
9. Chef Anahita Dhondy
She is the youngest and an inspiring Chef heading the ultimate and trademark flavors of Parsi Cuisine at the very popular Parsi Food Joint & Cafe SodaBottleOpenerWala at Delhi NCR’s Khan Market & Gurgaon’s Cyber Hub. At 23 years of age, this female started off with a lot of challenges and hurdles on her way but ended up landing where her passion led.
10. Sudha Kukreja
Sudha Kukreja started off with the capital’s first seafood restaurant Ploof. She was able to make it a talking point of the city with delicious flavors, design, and ambiance. Apart from being a successful restaurateur, she is also a renowned food consultant.
11. Manisha Bhasin
Manisha Bhasin is gregarious, level-headed and confident having about 29 years of experience in the culinary industry. Having worked at ITC Maurya as a Senior Executive Chef, she has beautifully been cooking ever since and has a basket full of experience with her.
12. Yuvna Damani
Yuvna Damani started her operations in the year 2009 with a quaint little cafe Spoonful of Sugar, Bangalore helping her mother, Sangeeta Damani. Her venture is popular for its cakes, pastries, pies and exotic delicacies for one’s sweet tooth. They started out with a small venture, but have grown considerably in the recent years.
13. Shirani Mehta
Shirani Mehta’s Maison Des Dessert in Hauz Khas Village is a French-style patisserie offering freshly prepared gourmet desserts, European style cakes, and savories. Shirani has done an icing course from Wilton and is currently delighting her patrons with her bakery’s delectable desserts.
14. Arushi Vaish
The next on our list of women restaurant owners is Arushi Vaish, the co-owner of New Delhi’s popular Chinese delivery junction Happy Hakka. It was started by four friends Gautam, Arushi, Puneet & Chander. They have a mission of making it 200 on a national scale and also expanding it in the coming years.
15. Madhu Krishnan
Madhu Krishnan is an Executive Chef (Research & Development) at ITC Hotels. She is the country’s first recipient of prestigious Incredible India and has been honored with the Hoteliers India Award, Chef of the Year and the National Tourism Award for Best Lady Chef of the Year. She is also the first Chef to win the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India’s Manager of the Year Award and now has had a decade-long journey with ITC Group.
16. Kshama Prabhu
Kshama Prabhu is the Executive Chef at The Bar Stock Exchange Cafe in Mumbai. Having worked extensively internationally, she gives a contemporary twist to her culinary production. She creates magic with her cooking at this uniquely designed café in Mumbai that has the décor of a Stock Exchange.
17. Rhea Bharucha
Rhea Bharucha is the only 23 yr old young and vibrant pastry chef of the culinary team at Sassy Spoon, Mumbai which is a premiere Gourmet eatery. Situated in Nariman Point and Bandra the restaurant is known for its romantic and attractive food attraction and beautiful ambiance.
18. Divya Burman
Well known chocolatier and a health-food promoter, Divya Burman has an ardent love and passion for chocolates which has given wings to the new concept “Guilt Free Chocolates” – Sweet Nothing! Which comprises a collection of sugar-free, dark and creamy chocolates. These special chocolates help the customers enjoy fine chocolates without worrying about cholesterol, weight gain, and health issues. It is safe for diabetic persons as well.
19. Nidhi Behl & Vidhi Behl
Nidhi Behl is the head chef and owner of Byblos Kitchen & Bar at Lower Parel Mumbai. Her restaurant is known for its unique, loud and bold appeal and also for its Middle Eastern & Arabian cuisine. Vidhi, who is her sister is the Head of Operations at the restaurant.
20. Sakshi Budhiraja
Best known as a friendly neighborhood cafe in Nirvana Country, brainchild of Sakshi Budhiraja Madison & Pike is an American style cafe and a bakery shop. It serves freshly brewed coffee, delicious sandwiches, among many other delights, and sits in the warmer corner of the Nirvana Courtyard Market. It is all about calmness and goodness alike!
21. Namita Punjabi
She is an Indian restaurateur and also the director of Masala World. She opened her first restaurant in the year 1990 and has veritable eateries in her kitty namely Chutney Mary, Amaya, and Masala Zone.
22. Karandeep Kaur
Being one of the few retailers in gourmet food in India, Karandeep had been exposed to a lot of international concepts in gourmet food retailers like Waitrose of UK. She had set up Gourmet City and was heading Godrej Natures basket then. Wanting to get out of the corporate world, Karandeep opened her own café, C’est La Vie Gurgaon
23. Dr. Nighat Awan
This lady has been through innumerable personal and professional struggles and also taken things in her stride. A true hero she is the CEO at Sherekhan Group in Manchester, UK and an Asian entrepreneur and one of the most talented women restaurant owners. She is also an inspiring businesswoman and the council member at CBI and chair of the Ethnic Minority Business Forum, North-West.
24. Pervin Todiwala
A Taj Group trained chef, Pervin Todiwala is the operations director at Café Spice Namaste. A confident and smart entrepreneur, Pervin understands the psyche of the customers and delivers exceptional service.
25. Sherin Alexander Mody
Hailing from Kerala, Sherin is the owner of the Blue Elephant Group of restaurants which includes Blue Elephant, Gate to India, La Porte Des Indes, and Saran Rom.
26. Romy Gill
UK’s first Indian chef and one of the most successful women restaurant owners, Romy Gill and opened her first restaurant in the year 2013. She has her own line of Indian sauces, chutneys, pickles etc. She was also shortlisted for the Asian Women of Achievement Award.
27. Rivoli Sinha
Managing director, Joost Juice Bars, a hotel management graduate, has worked with global brands like Marriott. She introduced the Joost Juice Bars, after partnering with Australia based Boost Juice Bars, to bring healthy drink alternatives to the Indian market.
28. Megha Tuli
Megha Tuli is an entrepreneur who has a food startup named “Leaping Caravans” and also brings to its customers the exotic, diverse and authentic delicacies from various lands and geographies. Healthy and also tasty food is being offered. Lunch options are available for the ease of the customers and are based out of Gurgaon.
29. Anisha and Nupur Khanna
Anisha and Nupur Khanna, are not merely women restaurant owners but the brilliant brains behind Eatonomist, an online delivery service that provides calorie counted food for the health conscious. Anisha, a software engineer with over 7 years of work experience, and Nupur an MBA from Rochester Institute of Technology together have created one of the most promising food startups in the space.
30. Rashima Bhatia
Managing director of a group of restaurants that she owns along with her husband, Vineet Bhatia, Rashima Bhatia is not only a great support behind her husband, who is a superfluous chef in the UK, but also one of the most celebrated women restaurant owners. The husband-wife duo is well known as smart restaurateurs, who have established themselves in the hospitality industry.
31. Vimi Singh
Entrepreneur Vimi Singh’s venture, Vintage 31- Cafe and Bistro, was born out of her dream to own a bistro. Located in New Delhi’s Meherchand Market, the bistro is a wonderfully warm vibe. Along with her chef husband, Vimi overseas the restaurant operations remarkably well.
These highly successful women, deftly handling their careers are indeed a source of inspiration. On this Women’s Day, we congratulate them and wish them success in all their future endeavors.