Chef Reetu is currently the Program Head – Culinary Arts – Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh at the ITM Institute of Hotel Management at Navi Mumbai. Simultaneously, She is also working as Speciality Chef with Percept Knorigin, Cinecurry.com, Oxygen Infotainment and Chefsutra.com. She is also food Author with at reputed food/lifestyle websites.
We celebrates, rejoices, inspires and drives every woman to be the most awesome she can be. In this feature we interview Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji on women empowerment and her stories. Here’s what she has to say.
What have been the high points in your career?
Reetu: I have prepared memorable food for the former President of India Pratibha Patil, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, and several other prominent celebrities/events.
My accomplishments are to see and witness my Students grow in their careers and to be well renowned is a pat on my back , I feel extremely proud of that. As a mentor to them, I ensure that this quality of being extremely Humble and be proud of your roots is inculcated in my students, as I want them to be good humble humans first and then Chefs.
The Noble profession that I am in itself inspires me to give my best to the Budding Chefs of tomorrow. I feel that I am indeed privileged and blessed to mentor so many students and the brightness of their success in their eyes and also of their parents, keeps inspiring me.
Do you idolize any woman?
Reetu: My mother, Late Mrs. Manjit Arora has been a source of inspiration and my strength. She was a fantastic and an ardent cook. She always tried to cook something out of the box. She has not only motivated me but has also encouraged and mentored me to do something unusual with food and so I started experimenting.
Do you feel it’s difficult to keep our culture alive in modern era?
Reetu: In today’s World of Culinary, where there are a lot of fusions and innovations it is indeed a task to keep or food and culture alive. I am presently doing a lot of research on Lost Recipes of India. I am so proud to be an Indian, its rich Food, Culture and Heritage.
As a Chef we owe to the generations coming in to bring back the Lost Recipes of India.
I keep myself updated with the latest trends of the Hospitality Industry by attending a lot to Faculty Development Programmes ,Seminars and Conferences.
One thing that you want to change about womanism?
Reetu: We are perfect!!!!!! LOL We are the best in whatever we do or owe to do.
In a generation where Hotel Management was frowned upon for women, My parents were the ones who stood by her dream to accomplish wonders. They ensured that their daughters and sons were treated equally and well educated. I went on to marry Uday Kugaji who took over the baton from my parents to support her dream. Among her pillars of strength, which include her father, mother, and husband, is also her role model – Chef Satish Arora who has been an extraordinary source of inspiration for our accomplished Chef Reetu.
What is your message for the youth women?
Reetu: Extremely proud for shaping the careers of thousands of Budding Chefs and students and witnessing them being so successful as Human Beings first then a Chef. As a mentor to them, I ensure that this quality of being extremely Humble and be proud of your roots is inculcated in my students, as I want them to be good humble humans first and then Chefs.
Please share one such story which you think has brought changes in your life.
Reetu: Chef Sanjay R. Ghokshe had mentored me to hold my chef knife, to cook and to take up challenges. I very well remember how scared I was of blood, and he to ensure that I face it had put me on my first Industrial training at the Leela Kempenski, Mumbai in the butchery. And now I can slaughter a whole lamb LOL, despite the fact that I am a pure vegetarian. I remember him tell all the students in my class that she might be the shortest but I measure her height from her brains.
His confidence in me brought tremendous positive changes in my life making me more positive and a very confident person.
Would like to conclude with the Divine blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba “Only a Great Teacher can mold a Great Student”.