Whether it’s spending quality time with family or grabbing those precious moments of solitude with your morning cuppa, we caught up with some women who have made a mark for themselves in the food world, to know what this means to them.
Taking inspiration from Sherryl Sandberg’s ‘Lean In’, we also asked them about women who tend to ‘drop out’ of the workforce once marriage or children come into the picture. How did they deal with it? Or perhaps talk their colleagues or employees through such situations?
Deepa Jain, Co-Founder, Wow Tables
Her entrepreneurial streak saw her set up Recipe Mobile – creating cupcake bouquets, healthy desserts and dips before she moved on to set up WowTables (a web and mobile-based platform that curates dining experiences across four cities) with her husband and Co-Founder – Kunal. Did we mention she’s a qualified patisserie chef and HR professional too?
Work-Life balance: “My husband and I work together so it’s difficult to switch off, but not impossible. I start my day with a cup of coffee and we spend time chatting about things not related to work. I love cooking and baking and it really relaxes me.”
Women Dropping Out: “When I got married, it was made very clear to me by my family that there wasn’t any need for me to change my lifestyle. I think family support and to a large extent, self-motivation is very important to keep women going in the workplace.”
Rupali Samat, Business Development Head, Choc Le
With a capacity of producing 800 kgs of chocolate, we won’t tell you where this Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is located in Mumbai, we wouldn’t want you to raid this chocolatier’s premises before we do!
Work-Life Balance: “Balance is more about what is important right now, and giving it that much time. Apart from Choc Le, I’m also involved in setting up things to do with education and dance – it’s my passion.”
Women Dropping Out: “60% of my team comprises women. Every employee working for us is party to a personalised growth chart. I did have a female employee take time off because of family, but she came back when she saw that the company was investing in her. It’s important to be sensitive to your team.”
Nicole Gonsalves Pereira, Chef & Product Development Head, PICO (Nilgai Foods)
Having worked in the tempestuous Gordon Ramsay’s kitchen in London, Nicole is no stranger to pressure and long hours. Now, she balances time between her office and a long commute to the factory in Vasai where she is the leader of a team comprising 65 men.
Work-Life Balance: “It’s all about quality over quantity of time for me. My time with my son and family is precious, as is my ‘me-time.’ People could look at me and think that I can manage it all because of a supportive husband and mother, but I had my son when I was in the UK and didn’t have the kind of help we do in India.”
Women Dropping Out: “I encourage women to work for me, citing me as an example. I had even tried to talk a team member out of her decision to quit work, but I think it boils down to family support over what the boss is saying.”
Dhwani Agarwal, Sr. Sous Chef at Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra
To this day, young women are advised to stay away from taking to a professional kitchen because it might not be a viable option once they’re married. One for succinct communication, and subtle humour, Chef Dhwani proves otherwise.
Work-Life Balance: “Name any industry where the work hours aren’t long, these days? At least, in the hotel industry work is over once you get home! I love trying out new restaurants and watching movies when I take time off work.”
Women Dropping Out: “Your family has to accept that you’re not going to be around for Christmas, New Year’s Eve, etc. That is everything! I have seen women around me faced with a choice, but they were retained in a different capacity.”