Chef Anahita N. Dhondy comes from a family of Parsis settled in Delhi. Since childhood, her world has revolved around food. She takes inspiration from her mother, who has been cooking and catering Parsi food and baking cakes. Anahita started helping in the kitchen since she was 10 years old and knew from a young age that she would wear the chef’s hat as a grown up.
She pursued her culinary dream by enrolling into IHM-Aurangabad which she passed with honours in Culinary Arts. She trained at Taj properties, the BBC at JW Marriott and went on to acquire a Grande Diplome from Le Cordon Bleu, London.
An expert at French pastries and cuisine, 27-year-old Anahita joined SodaBottleOpenerWala as Chef Manager four years ago, when she was 23. She cooks Parsi food from the heart and calls SodaBottleOpenerWala her second home where the spices mixes are supplied by her mother and the recipes she uses in the kitchen belong to her grandmother. She hopes to constantly make dining at SodaBottleOpenerWala an experience that will leave a happy imprint as she lives to make others eat the best.
In an interview with Restaurant India, Chef Anahita Dhondy gives expert tips on how to make diners remember the cuisines and revisit the restaurant.
Focus on Flavour
As a chef, I contribute through my cooking. I focus on flavour and how a dish tastes. It’s the key for me that cuisine should not only look good but taste good too; this makes the diners remember the cuisine and revisit the restaurant. I don't think there is any one contribution but lots of little bits that we keep doing. It’s about learning, sharing and cooking with the chef community to make food more recognized and better in the world.
Personally, my culinary journey started at home with mum, from little decorations and garnishes to starters and main course and even cake, I learnt so much with her.
I studied at IHM-Aurangabad and at Le Cordon Bleu in London. When I got back SodaBottleOpenerWala was planned by A.D. Singh and his team. Since then it's been a journey of rekindling my love for Parsi food, and constantly reviving new dishes and adding them to the menu. There is so much that I've learnt over the years, so much I've discovered and grown to love.
Currently, I've been popularizing lost grains and working with the Chef Manifesto and the UN Global Goals - SDG 2 - Zero Hunger for which I've been representing India on a global platform.
3 key things learnt as a Chef Manager
- Keep a balance between the kitchen and the service team is crucial.
- Take care of your guest needs and take feedback.
- Constantly innovate.
Key challenges faced as a young woman chef
The kitchens are not used to seeing a female and, thus, it’s difficult for the staff to familiarise and work with a female chef. It’s not easy to get things done if your team doesn't respect and respond to you, so it’s imperative for you to keep a strong grounding and stand to face any issues that might come your way. At the end of the day, there is no difference between men and women, the work is the same.
SodaBottleOpenerwala Gurugram Clientele
We are an Irani cafe and bar, we cater to everyone! We've got people who come with families; some are on dates, client meeting with CEOs and even an intern who might be sitting on the next table. From grandparents, who love their Lagan nu custard, to young adults who love the Finding Freny (a cocktail); everyone loves it.
Footfall at SodaBottleOpenerwala Gurugram
About 500 people per day.
Five aspects of cooking every chef need to know
Cutting and chopping, basic masala preparations, taking care of ingredients and equipment, sautéing, roasting and baking.