Born and raised in Abu Dhabi, originally belonging to Gujarat, India, I have been cooking independently since the age of 8 years. As I grew older, my passion for cooking grew just as bigger and stronger and all I dreamt of was going to culinary school. In 2011, I moved to America for college to study business after much contemplation on whether to go for culinary arts or to just stick to the safer option. Not being able to go to a culinary school was undoubtedly a little discouraging but was rather a bigger challenge for me to pursue my passion for culinary arts.
During my time in college, I founded a student organization called, “UB-licious”, where my goal was to get college students to cook healthy food at home and stop them from eating out at restaurants every day as much as possible. I wanted to show students how much lesser it would cost to buy ingredients and cook for the week over eating out every day. I hosted charity bake sales with team UB-licious as a result of which, the popularity of my home baked goods grew much within the university. Soon, I was given an order of 300 cupcakes by the career center of my college. This was one of my first and biggest ever orders which gave me an opportunity to bake in bulk and also an excuse to purchase my first dream kitchen equipment, a KitchenAid stand mixer. The success of my home bakery business continued as I received more orders from other university students, staff and faculty members. My passion is what got me through sleepless nights baking 100’s of cupcakes singlehandedly; packaging and delivering them, without losing focus on academics and alongside graduating early.
After graduating in 2014 with a degree in Business Finance, I moved to New Jersey with her sister and we found an apartment accessible to New York City, so I could commute and intern at one of my dream pastry shops in the city. After sending out multiple applications and following up constantly, I failed at getting a job anywhere only because I lacked that culinary school background. However, I did not get discouraged and decided to utilize my time by attending the Carsten Institute of Cosmetology in NYC and learn professional makeup application, which was just another hobby of mine. During this time, I also started a food blog and a YouTube channel called “theveggiefix”. At this point, if I ever regretted one thing in life, it was not going to culinary school.
Regrets aside, a few weeks later my passion flew me down to India and I queued up in the audition lines of the fourth season of reality TV series MasterChef India. After 11 grueling weeks and 67 televised episodes of fierce culinary competition, I won the hearts of millions of viewers through my passion and innovation in food and was titled the youngest-ever winner of MasterChef India. Masterchef India marked the beginning of my real-world culinary journey that happened to continue as I interned in pastry at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
This was followed by my participation in a series of events involving cooking shows, demos and workshops in different cities in India, UAE and the United States. In August 2015, I had the privilege of preparing an exclusive meal with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his team for the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi during his visit. Additionally, I was part of the latest Dubai Food Festival and Taste of Abu Dhabi, both of which, are the largest food fests in the region. I have also recently worked on designing innovative menus for Indian weddings locally and abroad. As I continue to work on various events, my ultimate goal remains to open a restaurant.
Follow your passion and your dream will follow you.