I was invited for the inauguration of the ‘ Aahar Training Kitchen Centre’ for their Certification Program, the ‘Commis Chef. A noble initiative of VIDYA NGO that works in the community impacting youth, children and women on the pan India level for over three and half decades . They have their presence in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Goa. This pilot program is exclusively crafted for enterprising women and girls from the underprivileged backgrounds. A 3 months EDP, Entrepreneurial Development Programme under the trade – ‘General Indian Cookery’ from January 2023 to March 2023.
They were keen to associate with Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH) for this program. IWH has eminent industry and trade luminaries to support this program as the ‘Endorsement Partner’ and deliver insights/ talks etc. which are idea-focused and on a wide range of hospitality subjects, foster learning, inspiration and wonder. Share insights that lead to meaningful conversations among learners. Dr. Suhas Rao, a visionary Learning and Development leader is the programme concierge. I have known him for many years and am truly impressed by the work he has been doing over the years. When he asked me to collaborate on this programme I felt honoured and humbled at the same time to tick on one of the missions of IWH; to collaborate to strengthen women’s roles in all spheres of their lives – personal, professional and the community through self-reliance, dignity and equality. Support social causes for women to play pivotal roles as change makers and path breakers.
IWH has been working towards empowering women in the community. This was an excellent opportunity for the ladies at IWH to extend their support and expertise. The IWH Power League was delighted to hear of the initiative and was excited to collaborate wherever they could.
The support being unconditional in scope as it is purely for impacting women from the marginalised sections of the community making them more self-reliant and sustainable through exciting entrepreneurial options.
As the Founder of IWH, I was invited as the ‘Guest of Honour’ and deliver the ‘Keynote Address’ at the formal launch event. They also asked me to write the ‘foreword for their exclusively designed ‘Resource Booklet’ with a compendium of crafted recipes, kitchen tips etc. as the learning material for the program ‘.
It was heartening to learn that Maersk Tankers India Pvt. Ltd., a part of one of the world’s largest shipping company is the donor for the programme. Actions like these have a positive impact in the communities. This is a very impactful CSR by them as nothing can be above empowering women to become self reliant and when one thinks of the marginalized sections of the society it has much more significance. Being married to a Master Mariner and knowing Maersk, getting to see the work that they do for the community has my deepest respect. Somewhere I also feel proud of belonging to the seafaring fraternity. Mr. Chetan Jain and Mr. Wajed Pasha from the company shared its vision towards women empowerment. I was more than impressed I must admit; compliments to Maersk on their vision and initiatives undertaken.
Event report by VIDYA– Inauguration of the Aahar Kitchen Training Centre
On 08th February 2023 ‘Aahar Training Kitchen Centre’ was inaugurated for certification of the pilot program for ‘Commis Chef’, specialising in Indian general cookery organised by Vidya in Mumbai. It was a hybrid event where attendees joined on the virtual platform and some in person as well; this included Hon. Founder Chairperson of VIDYA, Ms. Rashmi Misra joining from Bengaluru, Hon. Governing Board Member, Ms. Malavika Goyal joining from NCR and program leader, Ms. Urmi Mukhopadhyay joining from Kolkata and the ‘Annapurna’ of Vidya Mumbai, Ms. Vasudha Madhavan joining from Mumbai. The distinguished dignitaries who graced the event in Mumbai were Hon. Vice President of Vidya, Mumbai, Dr. Nayan Dabholkar, Hon. Founder of Indian Women in Hospitality (IWH) Ms. Laxmi Todiwan, Hospitality Veteran Dr. Hariprasad Mishra, Hon. Chairman of ISTD, Mumbai Chapter, Mr. Radharaman Panicker and Hospitality Education Evangelist Dr. Vinod Yeole.
The event received appreciation and congratulatory messages from trade associations, industry professionals, celebrity chefs and food critics. After the ribbon-cutting ceremony by Dr. Nayan Dabholkar and the guests of honour they lit the ceremonial lamp. Ms. Rashmi Mishra formally inaugurated the Aahar Kitchen and welcomed everyone. She expressed the need to empower the women in the community and how cooking could be the step forward for having a decent livelihood and means of earning for the family. Ms. Malavka Goyal and Ms. Vasudha Madhavan expressed their deep appreciation and cheered the participants who are enrolled for the programme.
This was followed by a keynote address by Dr. Nayan Dabholkar who stressed the importance of women in the profession of cooking and how cleanliness is next to godliness and emphasised on maintaining food quality as the hallmark of this vocation. Ms. Laxmi Todiwan advised on the need for mainstreaming women in the field of cookery and how they could actually bring out a lot of difference in their lives through wholesome and nutritious cooking. Dr. Hariprasad Mishra suggested the need for using the right recipes for getting the right finished product and validated the need for having good gurus who can groom learners use the best practices in cooking. Dr. Vinod Yeole emphasised the importance of entrepreneurship and how various schemes especially those introduced by the government; could be adopted to get into the development of small-scale catering businesses from the comfort of their homes. The Maersk Tankers India Pvt. Ltd, CSR Partner for the programme represented by Mr. Chetan Jain and Mr. Wajed Pasha endorsed the initiative for offering a pragmatic and curated program in the interest of developing the women in the community. Ms. Priyanka Mathur, COO and Ms. Mary Dias opined to the beneficiaries on concepts of food safety, hygiene, cookery as a profession and the importance of self-employment.
The program learning material was also formally launched for distribution and the gas stove burner lighted as an auspicious beginning. This was delightfully followed by cheering by the program leaders and the Vote of Thanks given by Program Concierge; Dr. Suhas Rao. The event concluded with a round of tasty snacks prepared by the students in an environment full of celebration and cheer. The dignitaries wrote their special comments in the visitors register and parted with the Vidya mementos with a promise to help the students develop professionally whenever required.
Hospitality comes naturally to women, so making a career in the industry is truly utilising their strengths to the core. We look forward to knowledge sharing, ideating, mentoring and empowering. Also creating awareness about the industry still not understood well; especially with respect to careers for women. These women and girls who are the first batch of the VIDYA ‘Commis Chef’ program will have the best resources available to them and thus become employable or embark on their entrepreneurial journeys. Here’s wishing them the very best! I am truly energised having attended such a well curated programme and the warm hospitality of the hosts.