The women in white: meet Madhumita Mohanta

Executive Chef – The Lalit Great Eastern Kolkata

There are very few women in Indian hospitality industry who have scaled to position of executive chef. Chef Madhumita was determined to touch the sky in chef’s profession and she has literally done it against all odds. She passed out her hotel management from IAM Kolkata. She started her career as a Hotel Management trainee with The Park, Kolkata. She has an experience of more than two decades. She scaled up with Ritz Carlton, Sheraton, Four Point by Sheraton and The Claridges India, Singapore, Bahrain and Kuwait. In conversation with senior journalist Sitaram Mewati

You are one of the few women Executive chefs in India, how do you feel about it?
When you set goals, you naturally focus on the result. Women described themselves as “invaders” of men chef’s turf, and their male supervisors often had preconceived ideas that women were not physically and emotionally strong enough to work in kitchens. If you pay attention to the desired achievement, you will discover the path to get there. Indeed in India there are very few lady executive chefs, so obviously I feel good and top of the World.

How you became a chef?
I think I was destined to be a chef. As a child I was never keen on opting any regular profession, I wanted to do something out of the box which will never be boring. My mother is a great cook and I believe it helped me to develop my taste buds and cultivated the passion for food.

Are you fully satisfied with your profession?
I am absolutely satisfied with my profession. I live for food: preparing it, re-inventing it, presenting it, sharing it and of course eating it.

What are the most enjoyable aspects of your work and what are the most challenging?
I love every aspect of my profession from cooking to menu developing, creating recipes, training the team members, interacting with guest. The best part of it is, keeps you on your feet throughout the day and it’s never boring or monotonous. One has to be very focused and attentive towards delivery. Your dream can become a reality with some hard work, great kitchen skills and drive to succeed.

Being an Executive chef you need to be present till late in the evening almost daily, how do you balance your professional and family life?
In this aspect I am very poor, my personal life takes a back sit as per professional life is concern. There are many ladies who have excelled in different profession and I became a chef in commanding position. Indeed family is also very important, but wow they also understand my professional commitment, they appreciate and supports me.

Who all inspired you in profession and what did you learn from them?
I have been lucky to work with some great chef, which helped me to be what I am today.

How do you keep abreast of all that is happening in hospitality industry?
I am net freak, now a day there is nothing better than internet to keep you self updated. It helps you enhance your skill and make you aware of latest trends and happenings around the world. All information you desire is at available on finger tip.

Being a lady chef in Gulf, how lady from gulf felt to deal with you for event planning?
In Gulf countries all leading events of family is organised, designed and executed by ladies. The leading ladies had an advantage for them as I being a lady head chef to deal with me to plan their events. They were very comfortable and enjoyed good rapport with me in planning their events.

Any noteworthy achievements in your career?
There are many noteworthy achievements and I am fortunate to have have served great personalities of the world. My food has been appreciated by them. The list is endless but few of them are Michael Jackson, King of Jordan, King of Saudi, Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton.

Food trends keep changing constantly, how important is this for a chef?
Change is the only constant in life and of course for society, and food trend is only a reflection of the people and society. It helps the chefs to be more creative and ability to adopt with changing time, enhance their knowledge, ability to look out-of-the-box and create something unique.

Do you want to communicate any message for women aspiring chef?
Follow your heart, set your goal and try, because every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.