As Mark Twain aptly said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” In today’s world, one’s dreams are not bound with one’s age. Age is only being a number. People even get married at the age of 50 once they accomplish their objectives or their dreams. The current scenarios in our society deliver the message that one can do anything at any point of their life. The time is always right to do what is right for yourself.
Padmanayana Shetty, 55, a.k.a “Nayana” had started a unique cooking workshop for kids in the capital city of Oman, Muscat. Intoxicated by the smell of authentic “fish curry” and “horse gram rasam” prepared by her mother, she used to get drifted towards the kitchen. She got inspired to traditional cooking by her mother and sisters. Slowly, she developed a secret love affair with the kitchen and so called- Art of cooking.
Getting to know Nayana’s genuine interest in cooking, his brother got her, along with his wife into 2 months of Cooking and Baking course. In the year 1985, the twosome got admitted in Nirmalanikethan, a Home science college in Bombay. The classes were interesting and became successful to ignite her suppressed love for cooking. During the course, she was introduced to different types of cooking. The classes made Nayana well versed in creating her own creations, her own signature dishes.
Once married in 1987, she flew with her husband to Muscat, Oman. She used to cook food and invite people at regular intervals for dinner. Friends and family never get tired of admiring her lip-smacking dishes. They used to eat till they were full. Before the arrival of the guests, she would be ready with almost 25 varieties of foodstuffs. People always remark her as an excellent chef and suggested to open a cooking school. She ignored that with a mock. She thought time has already lapsed for the above fantasies and it won’t be possible anymore even though she had a dream of the similar kind. It is not only her food but also the firm hospitality that attracted guests to her place. “I strongly believe Cooking and Hospitality are two faces of same coin”, she added.
Dishes prepared by her students.
Daal Makhani, prepared by the students.
The crispy veggies.
Nayana was blessed with two sons who were away because of their academics. She was finally left alone at home. She had ample time to cook and used to come up with new creations for her own. She started writing down her recipes. Fortunately, she got in touch with Navanitha .B .Shetty’s blog popularly named as “The Manglorean cuisine” https://www.facebook.com/groups/themangaloreancuisine/
The blog gave her an opportunity to unwind her recipes. She used to come up with outlandish menu and beautiful write-ups too. During her journey she learnt how to write food recipes. She used to educate people with kitchen tips and also make the readers familiar with vegetable and food carving. Her recipes comprised of chutney recipes made from the seeds and peel of vegetables. Healthy juice recipes were a big hit. Nayana’s recipes got featured in Oman newspapers and magazines. In Karnataka, her recipes got published in DaijiWorld and Vijaykarnataka too.
Creation by Nayana
The year 2014 proved one of the best years she had ever experienced. Like many of the food loving people, she was also a big fan of Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor. Her dream came true when she met him during the Star Chef Hunt Competition organized by Spicy village chain restaurants and was fortunate enough to be honoured by the MasterChef as the first runner up of the competition.
Nayana’s journey did not stop here. The spirit of her dream was still alive deep in her heart-the fun experience with food and children. She inaugurated the cooking school “FUN WITH FOOD” in March 2016 with initial objective of 7 days module. The classes are free of cost. Kids bring the ingredients, prepare and enjoy their cooking at the end. She conducted 2 batches for 15 days. The unique thing about the cooking class is- once her students are in; Nayana does not jump into cooking. First she makes them practise some warm-up and breathing exercise. The few minutes exercise session followed by the cooking classes. Gardening knowledge and few craft work are also part of this session so to break the monotony. She also delivers a five minute talk on Safety, Cleanliness as well as Recycling which adds value to the overall four hour session.
The Children enjoy the session and would like to come back again and again for the classes. For them, cooking becomes fun and a learning experience too. Nayana is all set to reach more and more kids with valuable cooking education.
Nayana wants to make holidays full of fun for children. She will conduct classes twice a year during summer and winter holidays. She firmly believes, “Behind every successful woman there is a man’, she smiles. Her husband and her two sons are the biggest supporters. Nayana provides her heartiest thanks to Mrs. Jaya Shettigar for sharing her knowledge. She is thankful to the country and supporters in Oman, bloggers who keep on inspiring her, So, next time if you are planning for a stuffed Bhindi fry or a fancy cocktail mix, get in touch with our MasterCook, Nayana as “One should eat to live, not live to eat”.