Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, is In Conversation with Anjali Pathak for her regular series for 'iGlobal' to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians.
Anjali is a celebrated chef, food writer and cookery teacher and has been shortlisted for a number of awards for her work with Indian food and International flavours. Having learnt the basics of Indian cookery from a young age, she works with spice and flavours from across the globe. Not only is she the next generation of a family that brought Indian cuisine into households around the world (Patak’s), she has also launched a fabulous cookbook ‘Secrets from My Indian Family’. She founded Flavour Diaries, an immersive dining concept that began in Mumbai.
Tell me about Flavour Diaries; what does the future hold for it?
Flavour Diaries is a food education brand that I started in Mumbai. In 2015 I packed my bags, my knives and my professional dreams and moved to the vibrant bustling city of Mumbai. I have always been passionate about food education and have spent the best part of my 20-year career sharing my love of food and flavours.
Flavour Diaries gave me the opportunity to explore a concept that had never been done in India. I built a luxury immersive hands-on cookery school and offered curated private dining experiences celebrating global flavours in the heart of the city.
Building a start-up in India was incredibly challenging but it was also the most rewarding. I absolutely loved it! The highs, the lows and everything in between. Flavour Diaries has evolved and excitingly has now moved overseas. Food education and flavour exploration should be available in every city in the world, and through Flavour Diaries, I am able to offer the same experiences I once shared in Mumbai, wherever I travel.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Patak’s is a legacy brand and one you must be very proud of; what is your favourite memory growing up in the Patak’s family?
One of my fondest memories and most vivid, was learning to cook with my grandmother, the founder of our business. Every evening she would lay out a baby rolling pin and board next to hers and together we would make the evening chapatis for dinner. They were my fist cookery lessons as a toddler. Memories I’ll cherish forever.
What is your favourite food moment: who are you with, what were you doing and what did you eat?
There are so many to choose from, but one of my favourite food moments was when I invited my parents to Flavour Diaries to attend an Italian cookery masterclass making fresh pasta; my most popular class.
We don’t get to cook together as a family anymore as we all live on different continents making this a very special experience for all of us. We cooked, laughed and created a delicious meal together just like we used to, but this time they received the true cookery student experience. It was an honour and privilege to have my family learn from me, and I will remember that class with great fondness.
How do you think the pandemic has changed our appreciation of food?
The pandemic has brought about a new awakening to food that has caused us to rethink what we eat and how we eat. The lockdown forced people to cook, a real shock for those that had never cooked before, and we became more aware of how we fuel our bodies. Taking charge of our health and wellbeing was high on our list during the pandemic and we started the much-needed conversation about global food sustainability.
We appreciate food like we have never before, whether it’s craving foods that were in limited supply, experimenting with ingredients and flavours we have never tried before, or simply being thankful to the ones that cook in our households. We have found a new relationship with food that I hope will continue long after the pandemic has disappeared.
MORE LIKE THIS…
When teaching others how to create mouth-watering dishes, what gives you joy and satisfaction?
My biggest joy is bringing happiness to someone through food. To see them create something incredible and know I was part of that experience brings me immense satisfaction; it’s why I do what I do. I’ve always wanted to be in the business of making memories and teaching someone to connect with food in ways they never have will always be what drives me.
What has been the lesson you have learned during the Covid-19 lockdown?
The lockdown allowed me to take a step back from the world I had created for myself. I took time to reflect and I finally prioritised what is important. I now make it a habit to take time out for myself every week.
If you could go back and give your teenage self one bit of advice, what would it be?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing. I would tell my younger self to slow down. You don’t have to have it all figured out by the time you’re 20! I believe that the choices we make in life will eventually lead us to where we need to be, where we are supposed to be.
So, don’t worry if you haven’t ticked everything off your life list. If you remain focused and work hard, it will happen.
MORE LIKE THIS…
Reena Ranger is the Chair and Co-Founder of Women Empowered. In this exclusive "In Conversation" series for iGlobal, the dynamic entrepreneur-philanthropist catches up with high-achieving Global Indians across different fields to spotlight some insightful life lessons. (The views expressed in the answers are of the interviewees.)