The young food expert launches a book and a passion project that focuses on her Parsi roots at the same time
By Karishma Kuenzang | Hindustan Times
PUBLISHED ON SEP 04, 2021 09:43 PM IST
Last year was tough for the food & beverage industry and, like most restaurants across the country, Sodabottleopenerwala was completely shut from March to September. But chefs cannot sit idle at home, which is why chef Anahita Dhondy, 30, the former head chef and chef partner at the Cyberhub, Gurgaon outlet of the restaurant, started uploading posts about what she was eating, giving her followers a peek into her fridge and pantry and making them salivate all over their devices.
Upwards and onwards
Motivated by the great response to her social media posts, Anahita started a weekend Parsi kitchen catering to just 15 to 20 orders with her mom from her home as soon as things started easing a bit.
“People were not ordering from restaurants. We made it a point to personally drop the orders or ask customers to pick them up,” she says. The lockdown was a rollercoaster and mentally draining and exhausting for her because chefs can’t really WFH with laptops. “That’s what made me put things in a different light,” she adds.
Even when the restaurant reopened for deliveries, work was quite slow till October. So, Anahita continued her home kitchen alongside, which helped her fund herself. When things picked up and the restaurant became stable again, she stepped down from her position.
“I’d reached a point where I wanted to do something else. I had been with the same restaurant for eight years, so it was time to take some time for myself,” says the chef, who plans to up her YouTube game as she sees a growth in the digital market and has always enjoyed teaching.
“People will always say stuff no matter what you do. It depends on you and how you are going to navigate what you want to do. I planned my finances for the following couple of months before I quit,” she explains
She’s also debating doing another culinary course to enhance her skills further and try something new.
“Asian and Korean cuisine is something I’ve always wanted to do. I got to try it out during the lockdown,” she says. She’s not planning to join any restaurant till the end of the year, though she’s open to doing pop-ups.
Showcasing talents and side gigs has opened up a whole new world for herself, Anahita points out, smiling. “You should do what keeps you going. Cooking in any format works for me, it’s my superpower.”
Of stories and recipes
Anahita is also writing a book titled — you guessed it! The Parsi Kitchen. More than a cookbook, it is not just about family recipes and her own, but also has a lot of stories, anecdotes and family pictures, she reveals.
There were times when people would ask her to share a recipe online, which she was planning to put in her book. “I was cheeky about it and asked them to wait for the book. It’s very easy to look up something online for free but some things have a special place,” she says.
Writing a book had been on her mind for years, but she often hit writer’s block because she could never put her mind and time to it. So, she decided 2020 was the year she was going to finish it at any cost.
“I scribbled and cut things so many times. Then I realised that when you’re writing a book, the simplest way is what works best with the audience,” she says, refusing to reveal any more secrets.