International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate the achievements of women and to raise awareness about gender inequality. Every year on March 8th, people around the world recognize the progress made by women in different fields and acknowledge the challenges that still lie ahead. This year we got together some inspiring women from the F&B industry who have broken barriers and shattered stereotypes. These inspiring leaders share their insights on creating a more equitable and inclusive future for women in the workforce. Here’s what they have to say,
Senior Director, F&B Marketing and PR
Taste of Hilton, and Hilton EMEA
Based out of Dubai, Niki Wash has 23 years in the hospitality industry. She started out as a restaurant owner in the UK, worked as a restaurant General Manager in Dubai for Caprice Holdings, and with Taj and Marriott as a Food & Beverage Director. Soon after, she began her career in Marketing for Jumeirah Hotels and Resorts. During her tenure at Jumeirah, Niki won many awards and most recently in 2021 was recognized in the Caterer Middle East Female Power 25, F&B Marketer of the Year in the ME Hospitality Awards and F&B Power 50 “Game Changer”. Described as an “ebullient and creative change maker” Niki is a huge advocate for sustainability and has brought it as a key focus to her role in Hilton believing the greatest “mark you can leave in this world is to not leave one at all.”
Advice to women:
Empowered women empower women – don’t be afraid to speak up – use your voice and tell your story as you never know who may be listening.
Eleonora is a wine consultant with an accomplished career spanning different countries. She developed her passion for wines while working for key restaurant brands during her university years, leading her to establish Cuvee3, a successful consultancy company providing beverage-related services. Eleonora’s expertise lies in indigenous grapes of the world, Champagne, Burgundy, Barolo & Barbaresco, and Sicilian wines, particularly those from Etna. As the Wine Director for Orange Hospitality, Eleonora also focuses on sake and teas. She is a certified WSET Wine School educator and has studied Japanese tea at the Global Japanese Tea Association.
Advice to women:
I personally always believe that the best thing for women-owned businesses to embrace equal opportunities is to think like a woman and act like a man. Being capable and confident and not being “afraid” will set the boundaries of people around you and make sure they know you are equal and they need to treat you as such. Everything starts from your head and the perception you have of yourself. If you think like a woman and act like a man you will be perceived as such.
Chiquita is a celebrated chef and co-founder of Paschion Restaurants, a company that has been running Spice Market, an Indian regional food specialty restaurant in New Delhi since 2008. In addition to Spice Market, Paschion Restaurants also operates three internet restaurant brands – Call Chotu, Yours Truly Butter Chicken, and Nayi Dilli ke Paranthe since 2019 – and bespoke catering services since 2012. Chiquita is an alumnus of Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland and has won several awards for her exceptional culinary skills.
Advice to women:
Women need to up their game when it comes to guilt versus responsibility management. Working women are not anti-family, anti- social, or anti-kids. In fact, we are born multitaskers & leaders. We have our eggs in different baskets and we know how to cook them all with ease, joy and poise. My advice is to not feel guilty or deprive yourself of any of the above on account of your career or business. Make choices; not obligations. Just managing the guilt, time and task will take care of itself. Your family will understand and be proud one way or another. Your kids will observe, adapt & take inspiration. And to society, learn when to say ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Be an unapologetic & independent owner of your life.
Chef Sambhavi Joshi
Casarecce Artisanal Pasta
Chef Sambhavi Joshi’s passion for cooking began at a young age, inspired by her mother’s culinary skills. She pursued her culinary education at Le Cordon Bleu London and trained under several renowned chefs, including Chef Marcus Wareing, Chef Phil Howard, and Alex Sanchez. After three years at ‘Le Cirque’ in New Delhi, she founded her own brand, Casarecce Artisanal Pasta, and also worked as a consulting chef at People of Tomorrow, a vegan-conscious restaurant in Dhan Mill, New Delhi. Chef Sambhavi’s culinary prowess is reflected in her innovative and dynamic approach to vegan cuisine, and her commitment to using locally sourced, clean ingredients extends to all her culinary endeavors.
Advice to women
I think the most critical piece of advice that I ever got was from my mother. I remember her exclaiming, “It just doesn’t matter, whether you’re a woman or a man. When you get to work, when you envision your company, when you plan your day when you execute that plan, just give it your 100%, give it everything you’ve got, And I can assure you, it will all work out, not because you’re a woman-owned business or a male run enterprise, everything will work out because you gave it all you had”. And this truly worked for me! And this is exactly what I practice and preach as well.
Atelier House Hospitality
Panchali Mahendra has 18 years of experience in the food & beverage industry, including 4 years as Managing Director of Atelier House Hospitality and restaurant consulting. She has conceptualized, operated, and opened over 55 restaurants regionally and internationally, including Mohalla, Marea, The Host, Morini, and others. Mahendra has a Post-Graduation in Guest Services Management from The Oberoi Center of Learning & Development and a Gold Medal in Hospitality from the University of Huddersfield, UK. She has been featured in Power 50 in 2020 and Power Women list twice, in 2020 and 2021, and nominated for various awards.
Advice to women
I believe gender should not be a barrier to success, and that everyone should have an equal chance to achieve their goals and aspirations. One should focus on credentials and potential.
Jyoti Ganapathi obtained her BA in Economics & Psychology from Knox College in the US, followed by a Master’s in HR from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. After completing her education, she returned to India to join her family business. However, driven by her entrepreneurial spirit, she and her husband started their own venture, Dosa Inc, a South Indian food truck in 2012. Their business allowed them to fulfill a long-standing dream, and Jyoti’s passion for entrepreneurship has continued to thrive. Aside from her successful business, Jyoti is also an accomplished Odissi dancer and a budding writer. She enjoys reading books on Indian history and exploring the vast cultural heritage of her country. Her diverse skillset and dedication to success have undoubtedly contributed to her success as an entrepreneur and her broader contributions to her community.
Advice to women
As women, we know what it feels like to be held back, cut out of opportunities, and not taken seriously. However, as entrepreneurs, having broken out of that limiting societal mould, it is important that in whatever we do, there is an aspect of providing opportunities and pathways to growth to people of marginalized communities- women, or people from economically or socially weaker sections of society.
Dipna Anand co-owns the renowned ‘Brilliant Restaurant’ in Southall, specializing in Punjabi cuisine and South Indian favorites. She also has a restaurant inside Somerset House, London, where she showcases her grandfather’s recipes dating back to 65 years. Dipna is a celebrity chef, author of recipe books ‘Beyond Brilliant’ and ‘Dip in Brilliant’, and runs her own School of Indian Cookery in West London. She guest lectures at The University of West London on Indian cooking and carries out food demos, pop-up chef events, and appears on James Martin’s Saturday Morning and her own TV show, Dip In Kitchen, teaching the nation how to cook ‘real Indian Food.’ Dipna is the brand chef for Compass group’s Punjabi food range and is now creating her own ready-meal range and special masala spices. Her Brilliant Punjabi food range is available at selected events and venues including Wembley SSE Arena, The O2, and Chelsea FC. Dipna’s new curry truck, Brilliant Punjabi, serves her famous magic masala fries and butter chicken with pilau rice at sporting events across the country, generating excitement among the crowds.
Advice to women
As a woman in the hospitality and catering industry, I believe it’s important to promote equality and diversity in the workplace. By valuing every employee equally, companies can become more productive and stronger. To achieve this, companies must actively incorporate equity and equality into their culture through internal audits, good hiring practices, and diversity impact analyses. Transparency is also important by reviewing the potential of all employees at all levels and giving everyone an opportunity to speak. Having racially literate managers is another key aspect. Additionally, the hiring process should be slowed down, and the interview panelists should be as diverse as the candidates. Recognizing that different people have different needs is the first crucial step, and getting curious about the needs of others is also key. As a leader, you should not make assumptions about what people need, but instead, ask them how you can embrace inequalities and get curious about them.
Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer
Sakshi Tulsian is a successful entrepreneur and business leader, currently serving as the Co-founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Restroworks. Restroworks is a renowned cloud-based restaurant technology platform used by over 14,000 restaurants across various regions, including the Middle East, UK, US, Southeast Asia, and LATAM. In her role at Restroworks, Tulsian is responsible for translating the company’s vision of making restaurants prosperous globally. She is known for her visionary approach to business and her ability to identify and capitalize on emerging trends in the industry.
Tulsian’s passion for food and technology is evident from her early days as a co-founder of a restaurant. This experience gave her a deep understanding of the challenges faced by restaurant owners and inspired her to launch create a software solution in 2012. Sakshi along with her co-founder Ashish Tulsian built a cloud-based POS solution designed to help restaurants streamline their operations and enhance the customer experience. Under Tulsian’s leadership, Restroworks has launched innovative solutions to assist restaurants, including a QR code ordering system, online ordering for restaurants and cloud kitchens, and the marketplace. Her dedication to innovation and her commitment to the success of her clients have made her a highly respected figure in the industry.
Advice to women
Believing in oneself and refusing to be held back from achieving one’s dreams because of their gender is of utmost importance. Every individual deserves an equal opportunity to succeed, and it is our responsibility to advocate for and strive toward achieving gender parity. It is vital to support and encourage one another, creating a society where every woman can flourish. One’s gender should never define their potential or constrain their abilities. Persistence and determination are key to reaching one’s goals, and giving up on aspirations should never be an option.