What inspired me to become a Chef?
I may not have had an answer before… but in retrospect, there is something deeply satisfying about working with your hands, making something tangible, sharing it with people to bring them joy; the thought that humble ingredients like flour, butter, sugar can be transformed into such exquisite creations. It is this, along with an inner scientific curiosity about food, that inspired my career as a pastry chef.
But it took a little while and a few detours to get there…
When I was young, my favourite thing to do was to bake with my grand mum. With every opportunity I had, I was in the kitchen with a little foot stool to help me reach the stove.
However, somewhere along the line, I found myself deeply entrenched in the world of finance, working as an auditor and pursuing courses like B. Com, M. Com and Chartered Accountancy.
It was literally right in the middle of my Final CA exams, that it hit me like a ton of bricks, and I couldn’t ignore it any longer. I finally decided to put all my energy into the career I knew I wanted.
Once I took my leap of faith, I was on a mission to learn, work hard and make up for lost time. After completing intensive courses from the Academy of Pastry Arts and the Institute of Hotel Management, Mumbai, I gained invaluable experience in the pastry kitchens of L’Opéra, New Delhi and Yauatcha, Mumbai.
Soon I became almost obsessed with understanding the science behind every process in the kitchen. The desire to share this with people helped me discover my love for teaching and I found my niche in culinary research and education. With this new revelation, I went on to work with the Callebaut Chocolate Academy, which inspired a unique love for chocolate in me.
Foodhall Cookery Studio and La Folie further strengthened my interest in teaching and innovation. Alongside, I also pursued online courses in Science & Cooking from Harvard University.
The Pandemic brought the world to a standstill. We all stayed home, and it gave me the push I finally needed to branch out on my own. So, after a much-needed break, I slowly began consulting with food brands & restaurants & teaching Chocolate & Pastry on multiple platforms.
And despite my interest in fine pastry and advanced chocolate work, I also found a different joy in teaching home-bakers and enabling people at home to make gourmet desserts.
Looking forward, I hope to make baking and pastry more accessible to people. At every step of the way, I intend to share as much as possible, which, in my humble opinion, is what our industry is built upon.
On a more personal note, I am a firm believer of the thought that one can always learn more. In fact, I will be travelling to France in the coming year to pursue a continuing education course in French Pastry.
At the end of the day, I think of myself as being in a state of ‘Permanent Beta’ where I will be forever learning and always improving!
For more do follow me on my Insta @manali_k
Click on the link below to join Tulika in her exclusive conversation with Manali, as she talks about her expedition into baking.
Presenting : Manali Khandelwal