An Exclusive Interview with Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji
True dedication, passion, and hard work towards the goal help her reach the path of success. Reetu, a Chef, Culinary Expert, Food Blogger & Author, Hospitality, and Food Consultant. She has been into special menu planning for Smt. Pratibha Patil, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and for various IPL & T-20 cricket matches held in Mumbai. She is even a mentor to thousands of budding chefs. BananiVista, in conversation with Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji. Here are the excerpts:
BV: How did you develop this love for food?
Reetu: I have grown up seeing my mother, cook delectable cuisines for the entire family. I guess that I have got it through my genes. Also, as a child, I knew I wanted to be a chef. Also my role model Chef Satish Arora ji, a chef extraordinaire has always been a constant source of inspiration for me.
BV: What is the reaction of your family members when you try out new dishes?
Reetu: It is always encouraging when I try out new dishes. The feedback helps me improving my recipes in taste, flavors and even presentation.
BV: Who gives you honest feedback for your cooking experiments and who is always full of praises for your food?
Reetu: Definitely, my biggest critic is my husband Uday Kugaji, who simply loves the food I prepare but gives me an honest opinion.
My mother late Mrs. Manjit Arora was full of praises for the food I cooked, even if it was a simple Khichdi.
BV: Which is your favorite cuisine and why?
Reetu: Undoubtedly, Indian Cuisine is my favorite. I simply adore the combination of different herbs and spices with subtle flavours. A perfect blend of different cultures and ages! Though, one word describes it all- “DIVINE”.
BV: Do you enjoy cooking regional foods as they are or you make some inputs to them?
Reetu: I dare not touch the authenticity of any dish. Moreover, our traditional recipes should be treasured. Only when it comes to innovations I curate new dishes rather than disturbing traditional and regional recipes.
BV: Whose cooking do you enjoy the most?
Reetu: My Late mother! She used to prepare my favourite Punjabi Pakorewali Kadhi with the secret ingredient called her Love. Also, ‘Maa Ke Haath Ka Khana’ made this kadhi more scrumptious.
BV: Whom do you want to thank for what you are?
Reetu: Besides God Almighty, I owe my success to my mother Mrs. Manjit Arora and my Dad, Mr. M.S.Arora, who supported me right from day one. Also, my soulmate Uday Kugaji who encourages and motivates me towards success.
BV: Any plans of getting a cooking book published?
Reetu: Definitely, would love to do that one day. I am doing a lot of research on Lost Recipes of India.
After all, Chefs owe to the generations coming in to bring back the Lost Recipes of India.
BV: Your message for aspiring Chefs?
Reetu: Besides being humble, be proud of your roots. Extreme faith in God almighty, Passion, Creativity and lots of Patience is the Mantra to be a great Chef. Dedication, commitment, and destiny will take you a long way.