Pune parents fly down Cardiff chef to coach daughter

Here’s how these Pune parents supported their children with their passion.
Simran Bindra with one of her iconic desserts.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Simran Bindra with one of her iconic desserts.(Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Updated on May 22, 2018 04:33 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Pune | ByAnjali Shetty

From pushing them to pick their passion to helping them with investments, Punekar parents have backed their children’s dreams with gusto. This is what the children have to say.

Simran Bindra, 22, founder, Bindra’s Kitchen

A chef and dietician by profession, Simran has been working on the concept of molecular gastronomy, where she tweaks the molecular structure and appearance of food in the most unimaginable ways. For instance, she makes small caviar, which are pure vegetarian pearls in almost any flavour in the world, right from rose to wasabi to balsamic vinegar. Having done dietetics and nutrition, and also undergoing formal training as a chef, she is able to combine the best of the two fields. Simran’s parents managed to fly down a master in the field of molecular gastronomy, a chef from Cardiff, for six months to teach her. She is also launching a health food line soon. 

Simran Bindra with her parents, Gurinder Singh Bindra and Mala Bindra. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)
Simran Bindra with her parents, Gurinder Singh Bindra and Mala Bindra. (Shankar Narayan/HT PHOTO)

Inspiration: Luckily for Simran, her parents who are truly her inspiration are also her biggest support system too. They noticed her inquisitiveness and creativity related to food very early in her childhood, and having understood this, it motivated her to experiment with her ideas. “That is how the whole thing began, although, my parents have been running Bindra’s hospitality services, a company focused on banqueting and institutional catering for over the past two decades. Knowing that I wanted to do something slightly different, they let me do so. This would only be possible if I studied the science of molecular gastronomy. My parents managed to fly down a master in this field, a chef from Cardiff, for six months to teach me. My parents have always been my guiding force, instilling in me a confidence to dream, and live them. Obviously, like most other parents, they helped me set up my restaurant- Bindra’s Kitchen,” said Bindra.

Unique point: Molecular gastronomy is a fairly new concept in Pune. Bindra said, “I am one of the first persons to start out with molecular gastronomy in banquets and bulk catering where we serve magical gastronomic delights to a group of 10 people up to a celebration of about 2,000 people. 

Entrepreneurial tips: I would advice everyone to dream and chase your dreams. Be a star, and always let your light shine.

Nayantara Thomas, 22, co-founder, Parisserie India

Nayantara grew up in Pune, but went to Mumbai for a degree in mass media from Sophia College. Holidays and eating out with her parents always involved pit stops at various bakeries from where she would pick and choose what she wanted to try. Thomas says, “When I look back, I think it is my fondness for eating all sorts of desserts that led to my career in pastry and baking. I wanted to make my own desserts and so, I decided to pursue further studies in pastry at the iconic French culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu (LCB).”

Nayantara Thomas owes her success to her mother Sudha Menon. (HT Photo)
Nayantara Thomas owes her success to her mother Sudha Menon. (HT Photo)

Inspiration: When Nayantara told her parents that she wanted to go to LCB, they only had one thing to say: be sure that this is what you want to do and then do it with passion. Thomas says, “A course in LCB comes with a big price tag and it was not the easiest thing for my parents, but they made it happen, telling me that great education is a priceless thing to have. When I got to London, I found that many of my classmates had taken personal loans to finance their course at LCB, but my parents generously undertook all the expenses, including my stay in London during the course. It has been a year since my friend Farah Shroff and I set up Parisserie India, a cloud kitchen that makes fine French pastry, entremets and desserts in Mumbai, but even today, when there is an opportunity for me to learn something new from experts in the field, mom and dad are forever ready to fund that course.”

She adds, “I am just at the beginning of a business venture when it is hard to find the money for even basic needs and it would have been impossible for me to pursue such courses, but my parents believe that money spent on education and knowledge is money well spent. They simply work harder so they can do it for me. Mom, who has a huge sweet tooth too, often jokes that I can pay her back in the form of a lifetime of free desserts.”

Unique point: I think it is the fact that I am determined to be in this space for the long haul, despite the fact that the hours are long and incredibly hard. Plus, money is very little if you are determined to spend on the best ingredients, even though customers sometimes do not know or care about the difference.

I can make four times the money I make today and also have a rollicking social life if I decide to walk away and look for a career in advertising, but baking is the only thing I want to do.

Entrepreneurial tips: My advice to aspiring chefs is to make sure that they are not getting into this, because they think it is so glamorous. A lot of people are watching cooking shows and wanting to become chefs, but the reality is that this is a very tough career choice and you need to be mentally and physically strong if you mean to remain in it. Most weekends and evenings when your friends are hanging out or partying, you will be in the bakery slaving. Aspire for it only if you are willing to forgo your personal life and time for the sake of your passion for pastry.

Gaurav Gite, 33, owner, Marrakesh

An Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), Goa graduate, with a masters at the Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Zealand, Gaurav started off as the chief bartender for a bar, transiting between his shifts. He used to spend his offs in the kitchen of the same bar/restaurant learning the intricacies of cooking, before being picked up as a chef in the same restaurant. Following a series of culinary-themed stints in New Zealand, he came back to Mumbai. Fuelled by passion and an inert desire to test the Indian market, he went on to set up his venture Marrakesh, in Pune.

Gaurav Gite with his mother Sanjivani Gite. (HT Photo)
Gaurav Gite with his mother Sanjivani Gite. (HT Photo)

Inspiration: Gite says his parents always taught him simple things in life: to cherish, to value, to work hard and celebrate small happiness. Food was the simplest way to express happiness at every stage of life, he adds. “My parents always had a vision that education was must; they wanted international exposure for me at the right stages. After supporting me with the best education in India, they sent me for further studies abroad. They wanted me to learn, grasp, feel and then choose a path. When I came back and chose entrepreneurship, I was backed with immediate savings from my mom to start a business venture at 22. My mother being a professor, never ever questioned my dreams to be in the food and beverage industry. More than the finances, her belief in me at every stage is what helped me build a career,” Gite said.

Unique point: I started with a team of 14 people, now to 310 and growing, we completed a decade of operations with our brand Marrakesh. All this was achieved from the age of 22 to 32. When the market accepts you for 10 long years, you are in a relationship with it as a largely accepted member. We created our own space in our field of expertise. 

Entrepreneurial tips: You would keep meeting consultants, advisors on the board of your companies, mentors, financial gurus and a whole lot of catalyst in the system. All of them shall help you grow your business or add value, but the real strength shall come from your parents who have always seen you and nurtured you. More than finances, infra and big excel projections; a young professional needs a belief - a belief he shall have from his parents and loved ones and a belief he shall endow in his work. Both systems, when intact together, the maths will not go wrong.

Shravan Shetty, 25, founder

At 25, Shravan Shetty has done much more than he had decided. After completing his graduation, he started getting involved full-fledgedly in his father’s restaurant business. Apache was a relatively well-known and an old brand by then, but the sales of the two existing outlets were dwindling, and hence Shravan realised that a full-fledged turnaround in the overall thinking and concept was required. That is how Apache High Street was born and then he next launched Poona Republic, Baner.

Shravan Shetty with his parents, Sudhakar and Nivedita. (HT Photo)
Shravan Shetty with his parents, Sudhakar and Nivedita. (HT Photo)

Inspiration: Shetty says, “I remember how my mother would tell me that one-day I would have to take over the leadership mantle. She would say that my father has done so much and worked so hard and one day I would have to take it forward. However, my dad never gave me any pressure of any kind. His advice was: You choose what you want to do, it is your life. From the age of 16, my father used to take me to the restaurant in the evening and slowly I started working at the outlet without a designation –from the kitchen to the front office to waitering and everything else. Even from the day I took over the reigns, he has been nothing, but supportive and understands that I understand what the youth wants and can strategically work on that.”

He says his parents have played the most crucial role and he is what he is only because of them. “For my first outlet at Baner, my dad gave a small loan other than the bank loan that I took up on the company, even when there was a big risk involved with the location. Though the outlet did very well, the fact that he showed his faith in me was one of the biggest motivators for me,” adds Shetty.

Unique point: I believe you are what your team is. It all comes down to having a great team and I have a great one. They are equally enthusiastic and motivated as I am and sometimes they work even harder than me.

Entrepreneurial tips: My advice to the young and aspiring individuals is something that my dad always lives by- that it is better to aim for the moon and miss it, than aim for the gutter and make it.

Rohan Dholepatil, 22, golfer

Rohan has done his schooling from the St Vincent’s High School. He received a bachelor in business administration (BBA) degree from Ness Wadia College. He played badminton in his school days and then shifted to golf as he liked the sport better. “I have been playing golf for 10 years now. All these years have got me to become the 15th best amateur in the country. I love watching movies and travelling for tournaments,” says Dholepatil.

Rohan Dholepatil with his mother. (HT Photo)
Rohan Dholepatil with his mother. (HT Photo)

Inspiration: Talking about his parents, Dholepatil says, “My parents have always been open about what I want to do, they never forced me. Every decision regarding my career was made by me. Surely they did always guide me and tell me the pros and cons, but the decision was left on me and then the support they gave towards that decision was immense. For my career of being a professional golfer, the investment is high. Yes, it is an expensive sport, but my dad always said to me, “You play, that is your job; let me worry about the money, that is my job.” That itself takes off some pressure to build a career, he adds. 

Unique point: I am yet to be professional, but in India, golf is not popular. Playing on an international level representing the country will give me an advantage to make it popular. 

Entrepreneurial tips: Anything and everything needs a lot of hard work and a special edge. So, do not be shy to try something new and crazy.

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