Meet these 8 women entrepreneurs who are shaking up the food industry

Updated on Mar 09, 2022 03:10 PM IST

Ahead of Women’s Day, meet these five chefs and entrepreneurs who are conquering the culinary industry and how

Meet these 8 women entrepreneurs who are shaking up the food industry
Meet these 8 women entrepreneurs who are shaking up the food industry

Ahead of Women’s Day, meet these five chefs and entrepreneurs who are conquering the culinary industry and how

A healthy twist to fast food

Born in a humble family, home chef Seema Makwana couldn’t pursue her studies due to financial constraints. However, she kept her love for cooking alive and kept on learning and innovating new skills and recipes and kept experimenting to feed her husband and two kids. Amid the lockdown in 2021, she started her own brand, Buns & Deluchas in Kandivali, Mumbai. “It’s difficult to pursue your passion as a married woman in a traditional Gujju family. The pandemic offered a different opportunity altogether to me and I kept trying new recipes for my family.” She started preparing healthy fast food for her family and as is the custom in a neighbourhood, made other residents try her dishes too. The word spread fast and orders started pouring in. “During the lockdown it wasn’t easy to start any business and successfully run it that too a food business. But sheer hard work and strategic food innovations and decisions have helped me reach where I am today,” she shares.

Home chef Seema Makwana
Home chef Seema Makwana

To her credit, she was the one who started and introduced deluchas, a delicious wheat kulcha wrap with lots of vegetables and a choice of patties, making it tastier and healthier at the same time. She also started and launched stuffed savoury waffles with Indian and Chinese curries. Today she is not only serving in Mumbai but she has clients from all across the country and has even supplied to US, Australia and UK as well. “The story of a home chef is never an easy one. Every step is full of challenges and struggles. Hope my story can inspire others to pursue their passions.”

Saas-bahu jodi, Manjari Singh and co-founder Hiranyami Shivani
Saas-bahu jodi, Manjari Singh and co-founder Hiranyami Shivani

Taking Bihari cuisine to the world

Established in July 2021, The Chhaunk is a Gurgaon-based cloud kitchen start-up offering homelike exclusive Bihari food to food lovers. Founded by saas-bahu jodi, Manjari Singh (35) and co-founder Hiranyami Shivani (58), the start-up is trying to bring revolution in the cloud kitchen industry. It all started when Shivani was unable to return to her hometown due to Covid restrictions, and was stuck in Delhi with her daughter-in-law, Manjari Singh. But as they say, in disaster lies opportunity. Since Shivani loved cooking traditional Bihari food, the idea of offering Bihari food came to her mind, and the idea was beautifully and quickly implemented by them. Shivani says, “Bihari cuisine is always misjudged by the non-Biharis. People are only restricted to eating litti chokha when it comes to Bihari food. However, Bihari food is steeped in tradition and culture and I want people to explore more of it.” Keeping that thought in mind, they both started ``The Chhaunk” to represent Bihar along with their tradition and culture. “We wanted to deliver homelike food for those who got stuck far from their hometown and keeping this thought in mind, we started offering homelike food just like it would be prepared by mothers,” chips in Singh. The duo is also committed to being a 100% Green company and are not using any items in the restaurant which will do any harm to the ecosystem. The packaging is completely free from plastic and is entirely biodegradable. The brand is using glass packaging to deliver lead-free, safe freeze, leak-proof food.

Chef Aditi Handa
Chef Aditi Handa

The sourdough specialist

The pandemic put the spotlight on sourdough bread with home kitchens abuzz with more activity than ever before. But Chef Aditi Handa’s purpose has always been deeper than just getting recognition on the Instagram feed. Through her brand, The Baker’s Dozen, she wants to draw attention back to age-old goodness of sourdough bread and put it o n every dining table as an essential commodity. Armed with a Diploma in International Bread Baking from International Culinary Institute (New York), and a Diploma in Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu (Paris) Handa took it upon her to bring the sourdough and its charm out of the elitist closet. Sourdough had caught the attention and respect of home bakers who were indulging in experiments within their sourdough community and had also found its place on fancy restaurant menus, deemed as a gourmet delight consumed on special occasions. When she started in 2013, she knew she was up against the obsession of Indians for white bread, which is made from 20 ingredients, including chemical enhancers and unhealthy manipulators. “I wanted to make the age-old tradition into an accessible and affordable commodity for all. To make it approachable, I first introduced India to Sourdough Pav, a take on the Mumbai laadi pav, followed by adding the spicy version of Masala Pav to the menu. Our Sourdough umbrella also included products like Fourgrain, Blueberry Cranberry, Walnut Raisin, Baguette and Pizza Base,” she says. She wants to open people’s palate to the crusty texture and nutty-acidic palate experience. “I still get very upset when I see people thinking of sourdough as gourmet or occasional bread. It’s like saying we eat vanilla ice cream daily and have black currant or chocolate only on occasions,” she mentions. It takes seven days to make a sourdough starter, and a lifetime of commitment to nurture it. Four ingredients - flour, water, salt and yeast - and the magic of microorganisms literally out of thin air, sets the premise for bread that is gentle on the gut and an excellent metabolism booster. Chef Aditi Handa understands the power of patience, for an idea to ferment to perfection. COVID 19 acted as a huge catalyst, and The Baker’s Dozen reported an ARR of INR 200 million, backed by a high standalone EBITDA margin of 10%, to close the year 20-21 at INR 200 million in revenue. Her aim, “A sourdough in every home every day.”

Bhumika Malhotra
Bhumika Malhotra

An accidental baker

Becoming a baker was never on the cards for Bhumika Malhotra. “Before lockdown, I had no time and interest in stepping into the kitchen. But during the lockdown, Just like everyone else I also started experimenting with some dishes. I gave it a try and loved it to an extent that I used to experiment with the same recipe by making small changes literally every day. Without even realising it, my interest in baking developed. I used to binge-watch baking videos on youtube the entire day. That’s how I learnt how to bake,” she says. Amid the lockdown, she decided to have a brand name, made a logo and started a page called Bake Whip Love on Instagram with no hopes of receiving orders but ended up receiving a lot of them. “I kept my hopes high as the local bakery shops weren’t operational during covid and everything was shut. So it was my chance to reach maximum people. I made sure to keep assuring my customers that the workplace, the process of baking and then delivering is super safe and that the hygiene is maintained,” she adds. The baker posts BTS of every order and takes extra precautions while baking each order.

Sheeba Dhawan
Sheeba Dhawan

Love for cheese boards

Cooking for family and friends was always the biggest source of happiness for Sheeba Dhawan, a Delhi resident. Her earliest memories involved sitting in the kitchen learning all the tricks and recipes from her dad who was extremely passionate about feeding everyone with the most delicious dishes one could imagine. Over the years the 35-year-old honed her skills and finally the lockdown gave her an opportunity to experiment and thus Crave to Plate was born.

“The idea behind the cheese boards was to give people a taste of something exotic and different, as everyone was holed up during the first wave of covid. I tried experimenting with a variety of flavour combinations, for instance mixing miso with soft cheese, cranberry almonds, spices with soft cheese to distinguish myself from what was being offered in the market,” she says.

The strategy was plain and simple - always listen to what the customers want in terms of their taste, budget, health choices and pay attention to the smallest of details like personalizing tags and decorative elements to elevate each and every board that would appeal to people and make it just a little bit more special for them and their loved ones.

Lisa Suwal
Lisa Suwal

Acing the family businessContrary to common belief, it is not easy to continue a family business. For Lisa Suwal, CEO, Prasuma, the struggles were all-pervasive. Right from physically infusing new energy to changing systems and speed of execution to hiring new people needed to drive new objectives while still making all of it work together.

“I joined L’Oreal as a management trainee and we were all trained to be business managers. It taught me ALOT! Right from managing general trade and distributors, to driving innovation, and executing clutter-breaking marketing campaigns. I will always be grateful for the experience L’Oreal and the leaders there gave me. I wanted to take all that experience and apply it to something that I could own and hone and I consider myself lucky to even have such an opportunity.”

She took over Prasuma in 2016 and the entire journey has been a roller-coaster since then. “My primary task was to extract as much growth as I could from our existing infrastructure and expertise. I then took on the role of Prasuma’s Chief Growth Officer and created and launched Prasuma Momos - our marquee product. I have recently taken over as the company’s CEO. Every phase had obstacles, opportunities, and a lot of excitement of delivering the best to Indian consumers as that’s what they deserve,” she says.

Le Croissant
Le Croissant

Croissants: More than just desserts

Desserts are the fairy tales of the kitchen - a happily - ever - after to supper and Vanshika Narang knows this too well. Her brand Le Croissant offers croissants that are a mixture of sweet + spicy in one go.

“Food is the best part of a person’s life, and one must never settle for the quality! Le Croissant guarantees 100% to serve you fresh, butter, and flaky croissants which will make you feel ecstatic, it’s like you will experience love at first bite,” she says.

Vanshika Narang, a self confessed foodie started Le Croissant in March 2021. It is the first Brand of croissants that serves so many options of savoury and dessert options priced between INR 200 - INR 350.

From Banana and Nutella to Lotus Biscoff Croissant, Paneer Chimichurri to Peri Peri Chicken, Le croissant has all the flavours.The menu consists of delicious gourmet croissant sandwiches too. The brand firmly believes that there is any better way to bring people together than with desserts.

Baking - A family tradition for this mother-daughter duo

Spearheaded by a mother-daughter duo, Ambrosia started in a home kitchen and has now grown into being a state of the art commercial base kitchen, delivering cakes and desserts across Delhi NCR. Born from a quest of simplicity- rooted in the warmth and comfort of homemade baking, the duo believed that in the hands of craftsmen, even basic food becomes extraordinary. “Traditions give us the chance to honour the art of confections while allowing us the opportunity to create a melange of familiar and new flavours alike,” feels Chef Ritu Gupta.

Over the years, classic recipes conceptualised by self taught Chef Ritu Gupta have been given a modern spin by her daughter & business partner Radhika Singh. Radhika, a talented Le cordon bleu patisserie chef, continues to use time tested techniques to develop handcrafted products and a variety of baked goods perfect for gifting. Built on the foundation of quality, everything is made fresh in the Ambrosia kitchen.

“Although we are known for our quality but it does take a lot to ensure consistency in taste and quality in food and baked goods. It has taken years of hard work, perseverance & dedication to make a brand out of something that started only as a hobby by my mom,”adds Singh.

In a market of stiff competition they have managed to win customer loyalty over 25 years of our existence. Although their customer base constantly keeps expanding, they do have a large number of clients who have been ordering since the very beginning.

Sonal
Sonal

Milk alternatives

Sonal started WhiteCub in 2013 with the mission to make vegan dairy alternatives accessible across India, and now the brand has around 170 retail stores all over India. “I established WhiteCub for three main reasons. The first and foremost reason was my inability to continue to be a passive witness to the tremendous amount of inhumane conditions in which the cows, buffalos and their babies were being kept in dairies. I witnessed all the extreme appalling conditions of cruelty towards calves and their mother’s cows or buffaloes as a child,.” she says.

Dairy comes with a baggage of enormous carbon footprint and resources that are not so sustainable for our mother Earth anymore. The production of dairy is highly unsustainable in the long run for our planet, whereas dairy alternatives such as vegan are more kinder on mother Earth and have much lesser carbon footprints.

” I wanted to give out the message of being compassionate towards one’s own health by creating WhiteCub. So the company is Compassionate choices Pvt.Ltd, because we want to be compassionate towards mother Earth, and fellow earthlings, which mean towards cow and calves and not being the consumer of such an industry which often ends up with being an active contributor to the misery of innocent animals,” she adds.

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