Gunjan’s Hall of Fame includes being consulting the ITC hotel’s kitchen in Delhi for Indo-Marwari cuisine, successful catering business, designer mithai on special requests and organizing the very popular ‘Dilli Ka Khana’ food festival. Years of research has enabled her to dig up recipes hitherto lost in history books, thereby giving her a niche to create the perfect royal spread fit for royalty. It was her interest in food laced with history that got her a scholarship to study South American food at John Folse Culinary Institute at New Orleans, USA. Ardently believing that cooking is an art, she shares with us little ‘titbits’ on what led her to where she is today. What made you start your venture? My sole inspiration to start all I did was my interest in cooking, eating and understanding the art of fine cookery since I was a child. Fortunately, I have a huge repertoire of some very fine recipes. There was a vacuum for new recipes on pure vegetarian food and luckily it was the perfect time I jumped into the business.
What has been the key to your business’s success? Firstly, I was fortunate to enter the market at a time where there were not many in the field as it is today. That was an advantage for it gave me the starter’s advantage and I was able to create a niche market. Finally, creativity in cookery is very important. Using generous dollops of it, I have reached where I have today. What are the major challenges in your line of business and how did/ do you overcome them? It’s a male dominated world for more than many obvious reasons. Few among these are: • Late working hours • Handling huge pots and pans • Controlling labour • Being a tough task master I have had to deal with managerial issues such as men disliking taking orders from me, fight gender-based dominance of a few fellow-cooks who believed that men make better cooks. But once you assert yourself in your line of work, everything falls in place sooner or later and people give you the respect you deserve. Have you benefitted from the use of any specific technology for your regular operations? Various new cooking advances have changed food production units, storage. These have collectively helped me in my cooking. Also, new social-media networks have brought people closer and easier to connect with. It has given me a medium to communicate with my followers/fans via Facebook, Twitter and my own blogs. What strategy do you follow for Customer Satisfaction & Expansion? Understanding a customer’s needs and taking his/ her feedback is very important for a business’s growth. In the same way, even following a few self-brewed strategies have helped immensely. There are situations when the customers themselves are not sure of what they want – therefore, it is necessary that we have our goals clear and be good guides. I ensure to keep in mind my customer’s budget and expectations when I deliver my service. A satisfied customer in itself ensures expansion/ growth. What, according to you, are the top 3 skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur? When a person sets out to be an entrepreneur, I feel that he should: • Be a good leader • Be able to think out-of-the-box • Learn a few managerial skills, and learn how to use both time and money judiciously. For more information, visit www.gunjangoela.com