Romy Gill is one of the few female Indian chef/owners in the UK who has opened Romy's Kitchen Restaurant in Thornbury, Bristol in 2013. She was awarded a MBE for her services to hospitality industry on the Queen's 90th Birthday Honors list in 2016.
Chef Romy has appeared on many TV shows and will be seen more on TV in 2017.She is a regular on BBC Radio4 Food Programme and is now a judge for the programme. Romy regularly demonstrates her cooking at many festivals both in the UK and abroad. She does lot of work for Frankwater and action against hunger and runs marathons to raise money for them. In a candid conversation with Restaurant India, Chef Romy shares the glimpse of her journey. Here are the excerpts from the conversation…
‘Ghar ka khana’ is Life
Romy was grown in a small town and as everyone else she too had a dream but it was quite different. She always wanted to open a restaurant in UK. “I’m not from the culinary background but self taught. I grew up eating street food and ‘ghar ka khana’. They are the fuel for my life,” avers Romy adding that when she moved to UKshe felt a craving for authentic Indian food. There were lots of colorful restaurants, people were crazy over curry houses but one thing was definitely missed i.e., the authentic Indian food. India’s intangible cultural heritage manifests in itself its varied ancient cuisines and culinary processes. As a mirror of society’s evolution, food tells many stories of agricultural practices, techniques, ingredients, processes, religion, ritual practices, festivals and utensils, the knowledge of which have been handed down generations. We must go back to our roots and preserve this rich heritage.
Hassle While Setting Up the Restaurant
Of course it was not a cake walk to set up a restaurant in big country like United Kingdom. Banks refused to give her loan as she is from an ethnic Indian background plus a woman whodoes not belong to culinary industry at all. But there comes light after darkness and eventually BBC had a word with her and it didn’t take a second thought to her for setting her feet on the path to her dream. And, Romy’s Kitchen established to create evolution in food service sector.
Inside Romy’s Kitchen
When we talk about food, we only talk about a delimited cuisine i.e., Butter Chicken and Dal Makhani. “Indian food is not constrained to one genre, it has marvelous articulations. It is a matter of pride for Indians that regional food is becoming a new sensation in UK,” says Romy. At Romy’s Kitchen, people walk in for an overall experience. There is a myth with Indian food that it’s unhealthy and I want to eradicate that myth because Indian food can be both tasty and healthy at the same time. Using the same flavors and ingredients but with less oil could bring a phenomenal magic to the recipe. She believes in cooking simple food yet delicious.
Facets of Woman
Sometimes I work continuously for sixteen hours and it never gives me pain because I relish cooking. Being a wife and mother, it’s quite difficult at the same time but I believe more and more woman should join the industry as woman has that endowment to handle everything at once. I knew only a handful of women in India is recognized as chefs and the number should definitely increase.