Breaking the stereotypes, women are now taking major roles in the food and beverage as well as the hospitality industry. Let's raise a toast for all these women who have set an example in the industry. Here are 15 powerful women who are making a bigger impact on the food and beverage industry.
Karyna Bajaj, Executive Director at KA Hospitality, focuses on the financial and business strategy, as well as, restructuring and business planning for the Group. Karyna joined the business in July 2016 and has been instrumental in expanding the national footprint of the Hakkasan and Yauatcha brands in India.
In September 2016, Karyna and her team began exploring the market to identify yet another winning restaurant brand that would offer new and eclectic flavours to the discerning Indian diner. This led to Nara that opened in the third quarter of 2017 under the aegis of KA Hospitality. Nara restaurant represents the vibrant exquisiteness of age-old Thai cuisine and signature warmth of Thai hospitality to Indian diners.
Karyna is one of the few women in the hospitality industry in India today. Armed with a Bachelors degree in Communication and Business Strategy, her hunger for knowledge and curiosity is bringing a new dynamic within the Hospitality Group. Her latest venture is a first for her and KA Hospitality’s a focus on homegrown brands – CinCin. It’s an Italian inspired restaurant and bar situated in the bustling area of BKC and neighbour to Nara. A unique concept offering an extensive list of wines by the glass and cicchettis (small plates) along with a pasta bar and everything Italian! Spearheading this homegrown brand, Karyna is set to make sure that KA Hospitality builds its own brands and stays at the forefront in the Indian F&B industry. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Dipna Anand is an award-winning Celebrity Chef, owner of Dip in Brilliant. She also co-owns Brilliant Restaurant in Southall, London. Her grandfather started the first Brilliant restaurant in Nairobi, Kenya in the 1950s. After pursuing her degree in Hospitality and Catering from The University of West London, Dipna started to teach as a guest chef. She also runs her own Cookery School at The Brilliant Restaurant in Indian cuisines. “My career took off when I won a national award on one of my food technology projects – Low Fat Indian Food - presented by the British Nutrition Foundation,” Dipna tells Restaurant India.
Beyond Brilliant, her very first cookbook was released in July 2014. The cookbook tells a story of the Brilliant family legacy and fifty recipes that were shared by Dipna’s grandfather. Recently, she released her second cookbook Dip in Brilliant; she had named her restaurant after her cookbook was released. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Lisa Suwal, VP- Marketing & Sales of Prasuma Meats & Delicatessen brand since August 2016. Lisa’s father, Mahendra Suwal, entered the food and beverage industry with the launch of Prasuma brand over 30 years back i.e., in 1985. It was the first brand to start the ‘fresh and chilled’ segment in India. Ten years ago, Prasuma entered into retail segment. Currently, the brand’s presence is at 300+ retail outlets across 21 Indian cities.
“Growing up in a family involved in this business for over 30 years, I’ve been exposed to this business and the art of making good food as far as I can remember,” says Lisa.
Lisa has previously worked with Technopak Advisors, L’Oreal and Garnier. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Pallavi Jayswal is a culinary wizard - chef, foodie and a businesswoman. She is the chef and co-founder at Uno Más -Tapas Bar Kitchen. She had also co-founded a company Nessun Dorma Food Ventures. Her first official culinary job was at the mecca of Indian fine dine, Indigo Restaurant at Colaba. She was entrusted to handle an entire section of the kitchen. She reminisces her time there by the fast-paced dinner services and long working hours. She has a Diplôme de Cuisine from Le Cordon Bleu, London and a Level 2 in Wines and Spirits, awarded by the Wine and Spirit Education Trust. In the following years, she worked with Thalassa, Indigo Restaurant to name a few.
Pallavi loves to travel and immerse herself in new cultures and cuisines. She has visited numerous places like Spain, Italy, and Vietnam to name a few. She believes in ‘Adopt don’t Shop’ and cares deeply for strays. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Rashmi Daga is the founder and owner of one of the most exciting food-tech companies – FreshMenu; the company was founded in September 2014. Aimed at rescuing food- seekers from mundane meals, FreshMenu is on a constant quest to whip-up interesting food options in the kitchen’s spread out across the city that deliver freshly-cooked food to the doorsteps of its customers. Rashmi started her entrepreneurial journey with Afday.com, an online business which focused on selling curated art and craft products. She has also worked with Bluestone.com, Olacabs, LifeScan and TutorVista. She started her career as a Business Manager at IBM in 2003. Click To Read Her Full Interview
The big move in Pankaj Bhadouria’s life came with a small step when she decided to leave her successful teaching career spanning over 16 years and enter the first televised cookery reality show – MasterChef India. A major recognition and appreciation came Pankaj’s way when she was invited by Cambridge University to address the South Asian Community in Britain. She demonstrated some Indian foods for health-conscious people and managed to break the general British myth that Indian food is all about spicy curries and Chicken Tikka Masala. She is the face of many popular brands. Pankaj Bhadouria, currently, hosts the second season of ‘3 Course with Pankaj’ on LF Channel. Besides, she has authored and co-authored many cookbooks. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Sheetal Shah is the Managing Director at Drifters Breweries. Partnering with her husband in business and of course in life, Sheetal Shah defines strength with a positive vision of success and innovation. Managing the BKC outlet of Drifters Breweries, she is a woman who is fascinated by the world of craft beers and the bubbles in each brew. The daily operations side of the brew bar is constant learning for Sheetal, who hopes to open other craft beer serving outlets in major cities in Maharashtra. Excitement and vigour are her cornerstones as she appreciates how locals today love to experiment with different types of craft beers.
Hopeful to expand in both directions, hope fills her as she would love to supply beer kegs to other outlets across Mumbai and Pune and of course expand the brand to new outlets. She also plans to open a bottling plant soon enough, one brew at a time. Her future plans include focusing on the expansion of distribution channels to other outlets in Maharashtra and is anticipative of the second level of funding or other associates for the bottling plant.
The customer is king is the motto that this businesswomen lives by and shares that “It is truly the customers who inspire me and I believe that it is our consumers who guide us and are the first foundation blocks to building a sustainable brand. I specifically set aside time to read customer feedbacks and derive value from their experiences. They inspire me to do things better and alter the course of action based on feedback attained”.
Sheetal Shah is an IT professional from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. She started out as a software developer for a year and then realized that her heart was in the hospitality industry. Venturing out into the food industry in Australia for 12 Months in 2009, she owned a pizza restaurant and comprehended her passion for serving delectable food to the community. In 2014, she started a fine-dine restaurant in her home town Vadodara, La Quello – a Mediterranean Kitchen. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Aishwarya Bhende is the Director at AB Celestial, Mumbai’s first Luxury Floating Restaurant. The floating restaurant was launched in 2017. Exposed to European waterfronts from an early age, Aishwarya realized how they boosted tourism in those countries. Back home at the commercial capital, she saw a huge opportunity on its seaside which could add jewels to the crown of the city – Mumbai Skyline. This vision gave birth to an extensive 3-year process of building India’s first floating restaurant in a revenue-sharing partnership with the government.
By setting up the first luxury floating restaurant in Mumbai, Aishwarya has set the backbone for each process. The restaurant offers excellent delicacies from Indian, Continental and Asian cuisines with a fine, opulent ambience. Click To Read Her Full Interview
Garima Arora, the journalist-turned-chef, recently bagged Asia’s Best Female Chef 2019 Award. Her restaurant Gaa cooked up a storm when it was awarded the Michelin star within two years of its opening. She was also named in the Entrepreneur India's 35 Under 35 list.
Garima Arora started her career as a pharma journalist. She left for Le Cordon Bleu Paris, in 2008, to pursue her passion, cooking. Garima has worked with several renowned chefs including Gordon Ramsay and Gaggan Anand. She had also done an internship at Noma in Copenhagen, where she worked with Chef René Redzepi for three months. "I've always known I would want to have my restaurant one day. After some research into the profession, I decided to do it right then, as cooking is very demanding, physically and mentally," says Garima.
Speaking about her entrepreneurial journey, Garima Arora says, "The low is the long hours and missing all-time with family and friends, but running your own business is one of the most rewarding feelings. You work alongside your team day in and day out and you grow together."
India’s largest gourmet store Foodhall has a fiery passion that has stemmed from Avni Biyani’s ambition to expand the realm of food shopping to a larger than life concept. The youngest daughter of esteemed Kishore Biyani, Group CEO of Future Group, she is an individual who commands her own respect with her ability to look beyond a simple food retail concept. She formally joined Future Group in 2011 as the Concept Head of Foodhall and there has been no looking back ever since.
Also a part of Future Group’s Integrated Food Strategy Council, Avni Biyani is also responsible for ramping up the Group's foray into the premium food segment. With a keen interest in the fashion and lifestyle segment of the business, she is closely involved with the launch of India’s first fast fashion brand – Cover Story.
Watching her vision unfold, she says “Food is a universal language that unites people all over the world, one taste at a time. Attempting to bring all food lovers under one roof and introduce various spices, ingredients and dishes from the globe to my store, it is exhilarating to watch as consumers get excited seeing their favourite brands from all over the world in India”.
Launched in May 2011, Foodhall is a one-stop premium destination for well-travelled urban consumers who have a deep appreciation for the nuances of gourmet cooking. With superstores in Mumbai, Bengaluru and Delhi NCR, Foodhall offers a homegrown range of products handcrafted by the in-house chefs of Foodhall, including flavoured butter, moist cakes, cookies, biscottis, Middle Eastern sweets, exotic jams, flavoured nuts, granola bars and more. Furthermore, Foodhall has a range of speciality brands for niche products— from an ARQA spice station to The House of Tea (THT) that retails premium varieties of tea and Foodhall Specials.
Dildeep Kalra is the founder and promoter at StyleHorn and Director at Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. The perfect whiff of everything fashion, Dildeep Kalra’s style quotient is as massive as the portfolio that she directs. Her selection of designer heels, statement bags and impeccable fragrances lend an aura of dynamical strength and introduce her bent for all things nice. The pleasingly satiated face behind the successful Massive Restaurants Pvt. Ltd. and the man behind it – Zorawar Kalra, is that of an articulate, intelligent and self-motivated lady. Her foresight, strong business acumen and a meticulous eye for detail make Dildeep Kalra a visionary, who impresses and earns her commendable position as the Director of Massive Restaurants. With a penchant for fashion, design and visual merchandising, she brings her sense of art to the Indian and International F&B retail market.
Her foray into the hospitality industry dates back to 2006 when she ventured into the operational side of Indian hospitality. Hailing from a family where food equals love, she absolutely recommends Spain, Singapore, New York and Japan for an epic food adventure. Redefining the Indian hospitality industry with multiple offerings that are uniquely carving their own niche today, Massive Restaurants has literally made a massive impact on the way we wine and dine.
Dipti Motiani is the founder of Second Nature, a brand that is emerging as a forerunner in the cold-extracted fruits and vegetable juice blends category. She is also the Vice President of Processed Fruits division at Freshtrop Fruits Ltd., which is the parent company of Second Nature. Freshtrop has been a leading supplier of fresh Indian grapes to some of the most demanding Supermarkets in Europe consistently for over 2 decades and has now ventured into the creation of cold extracted fruit juices and nut milk through Second Nature.
Dipti has had a bright academic career. She excelled in school and topped her university in Computer Engineering. She moved to the US to Carnegie Mellon University in 2005 to further her academic ambitions and graduated with a perfect GPA of 4.0. Post her Masters, she co-founded Fabbrix Inc, a successful startup in the electronic design automation industry in Pittsburgh, USA. Fabbrix was acquired for over USD 6 million by PDF Solutions, Inc. in 2007. She continued with the parent company for two more years, post which she moved from the comfortable environment of Silicon Valley to ‘Savlaj’, a Maharashtra village 70 km from Sangli, to assist with the Freshtrop business, as well as getting a first-hand experience of rural India.
She joined Freshtrop in 2009, just as it was planning to expand into the fruit processing segment. With her exceptional hands-on approach, she has gained an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the technical and commercial aspects of fruit processing. She now spearheads the food processing business of Freshtrop and has developed a strong client base for its bulk processing business in both domestic and international markets. Click To Read Her Full Interview
One of the leading food stylists in Asia, Saba Gaziyani is perhaps the only food photographer-cum-stylist in Mumbai. While she was still a junior chef at The Leela, Mumbai, Saba took up her professional career in food styling, in 1994. She started with an ad campaign. It was completely by chance! Since then Saba hasn’t looked back; it’s been more than a decade. Saba has been instrumental in raising the bar for food stylists in India.
Saba’s studio is located in Mumbai and is the only exclusive digital studio for food photography in India.
Rupali Bhatnagar is the General Manager and Senior Winemaker, Sparkling Wines, at Sula Vineyards. She joined Sula Vineyards as a lab-technician trainee back in February 2006. A microbiology graduate, Rupali was fascinated with the wine industry and the innovative approaches to winemaking. As a microbiologist, Rupali found herself to easily relate to yeast and fermentation process and, therefore, learning more about winemaking came naturally to her.
Rupali became a winemaker at a time when not many women were in the industry. She has been extremely hard-working and has proved her capability as a winemaker to the industry by giving in more than 100% and graciously being involved in samplings, loading and unloading presses, tasting, creating blends and many other activities. Rupali has outperformed herself in experimenting and creating different blends with complex flavours from grapes.
Rupali has successfully created India's first Sparkling Shiraz and is experienced in both the reductive and oxidative style of winemaking.
Anamika Singh, a tea sommelier, started Anandini Himalaya Tea in 1990; back then there were only two women in the industry segment. Anamika has spent over twenty years in the industry. She started as an apprentice under A. K. Singh, her father, who was a world-renowned tea specialist. Anamika’s family owns Manjhee Valley Tea Estate in Dharamshala. The Estate exports tea to the likes of high-end Parisian tea houses Le Palais de Thes and Mariage Freres.
Anamika’s Anandini - The Tea Room was launched in Delhi on November 15, 2014, wherein she conducts workshops for the tea enthusiasts and expats.