Ms. Poonam Dedhia: From Mumbai’s Kitchen to Culinary Excellence

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Ms. Poonam Dedhia: From Mumbai’s Kitchen to Culinary Excellence

After watching her interview, my admiration for Ms. Poonam Dedhia grew as I witnessed her dedicated efforts in preserving traditional recipes and revitalising the culinary heritage of Kutch and Kathiyawad. Inspired by her commitment, I reached out to connect with her and invited her to share her story on IWH. She is a skilled chef from Mumbai who turned her love for cooking into a thriving business since 2012. Starting as a TV show contestant on “Zee Marathi” and “Food Food,” she gained recognition and confidence in the culinary world, even sharing the screen with Master Chef Sanjeev Kapoor. Poonam’s culinary journey involves a deep passion for reviving traditional recipes from Gujarat, particularly Kutch and Kathiyawad. Despite challenges, including facing homelessness, she persevered with support from mentors and colleagues. Her journey is a blend of tradition, innovation, and a strong commitment to excellence, making her a respected person in the culinary world. In conversations with Ms. Poonam Dedhia.

IWH: Tell us something about you, your growing up years, life through school, college etc.

Poonam: I’m a Kutchi Jain from Mumbai, and I feel lucky to have parents who believe in educating girls. I went to Abhinav Vidyalay in Dombivali and later did my M.A in Counseling Psychology from MMP Shah Woman’s College in Matunga, Mumbai. From a young age, I loved the delicious dishes my mom made, which inspired me to start cooking at the age of 5. Even though I made a mess in the kitchen, my mom’s patience and guidance helped me become better. After 10th grade, I took charge of the kitchen, trying new recipes and exploring different ingredients and cooking terms because I wanted to follow my heart and do what I love, not just what society expected of me.

IWH: What made you select Hospitality as a career? Was it easy making that decision?

Poonam: It was a very easy decision for me. I practiced as a School Counselor, providing counseling to kids in BMC School for 5th-10th std. I also conducted their Personality Development Classes. However, my passion for food was overwhelming. Every day, I eagerly anticipated my office and school lunches, as did my colleagues.

IWH: What is your current role?

Poonam: I am successfully been driving my passion into business since 2012; for being TV shows to conducting mass scale cooking event, my journey is indeed as inspiring one. Now I’m an Indian Artisan Chef Consultant.

IWH: How has your hospitality journey been? Pros, cons etc? 

Poonam: It has been enriching journey. I love the industry and absolutely love what I do. Even after 10-12 years, I still enjoy creating the menus for the Gujarati Food Festival. Also, I have got to learn a lot while doing festivals in best properties. Being a Single a Woman Army, I always got the best team to pull out the festival smoothly for the hotels as well the best support from the Executive Chefs.

IWH: Who has been your mentor or a role model? In what way has that person helped you?

Poonam: The first mentor and role model for me is my beloved mom. She guided me at every stage of my career until her last breath, emphasizing the importance of continuous learning and humility in work. After her passing, life took a different turn, and I had to restart with my ailing father. During this challenging time, I came across Mr. Avininder Singh, who, unfortunately, is no longer with us. In the second year of the pandemic, I met Mr. Naresh Sahani, an expert kitchen consultant. These two individuals, like angels on earth, played a significant role in my survival and shaped my career. I also want to express gratitude to Mr. Kedar Soni, Bhagyashree Ma’am, Meena Ma’am, my college teachers Archana Ma’am and Madhavi Ma’am – all of whom stood by me and my dad during the most difficult times.

IWH: What have been the high points of your career/ life? Highlight at least 3.

Poonam: After completing my post-graduation, I had the opportunity to showcase my culinary skills on “Zee Marathi” in a special cookery show called “Aamhi Saare Khavvye.” Additionally, I shared the screen with Padmashree Masterchef Sanjeev Kapoor on the “Food Food” Channel. I was fortunate to be selected among the Top 6 out of 250 participants in a competition. In January 2016, I organized one of my largest cooking events in Ahmedabad, serving 1000 people, which garnered coverage in various regional newspapers and media outlets. As an alumna, I have also delivered guest lectures at my college for aspiring food entrepreneurs. Since 2012, I have successfully managed wedding events, lunches, and Gujarati Food Festivals at renowned properties in Mumbai and across India, including Radisson Mumbai, ITC Maratha – Responsible Luxury Collection Hotel, Hilton Jaipur (where I conducted a 2-week food promotion), and The Conclave by Ambuja Neotia Group in Kolkata.

IWH: What challenges have you faced as a woman in the industry? How did you deal with them?

Poonam: I have faced absolutely no hurdles being in the industry. In fact I have got a lot of support and respect from the fellow chefs.

IWH: If there was anything that you could change about your life or career what would that be?

Poonam: Yes there is only one regret, it’s a personal one. I fail to understand how a son can be so cruel to his own father and sister. My brother and his wife found it befitting to let my dad and me be on the road. Even strangers won’t do that. I was forced to go through so much, even now when I think about it I am filled with remorse. I pray to God that no one should get a son like him. I have so much to say but I will hold on as I have my dignity. I have moved on and I am trying my best to provide for my dad.

IWH: What do you think of IWH?

Poonam: When I first came to know & went through the website it was really impressive. This is a platform which is very powerful with so many strong individuals sharing their views, holding hands, & uplifting the world of women professionals. I’m honored to have been asked for pen down my interview. If my story can inspire even one person out there, I would be so proud.

IWH: Your advice to the young professionals and students.

Poonam: My advice to all is that everyone has a unique place under the sun. We often compare our journeys, not realizing that each path is different, and every person is unique. To female students and professionals, I would say: break all barriers. Follow your heart, constantly challenge yourself, and remember, you are your biggest competitor. Recognizing our strengths and weaknesses helps us grow and improve.

IWH: Anything else you wish to share with our readers?

Poonam: Spend time with yourself and love yourself. The only person who can make you truly happy is YOU Yourself!

Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Dr. Laxmi Todiwan
Founder Indian Women in Hospitality. She is a Professor, Corporate Trainer, Motivational Speaker and a Blogger. A multiple award winning hospitality professional with a career spanning over two decades; people engagement, training and development are close to her heart. She writes for hospitality journals, online platforms and columns in the local newspapers. Married to a Master Mariner she loves to write on the maritime industry as well as the lives and relationships of the fraternity. She expresses her thoughts on her blog and website,

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