After high school I applied to the best hotel administration school in India. Here, my love for food blossomed and I ultimately found my profession. I interned in some of the finest hotels in India, at times being the only girl in a kitchen of over 70 men. it made my resolve to succeed as a chef even stronger. Then it was off to the best institution in the world - CIA (Culinary Institute of America). I remember on a snowy January day going to the CIA campus for the first time-the towering amazing Roth Hall in front of me-LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT! My heart swelled with pride that I was going to be a part of this amazing fraternity of student's, chefs and teachers. My heart still swells with pride every time I go to the campus, or even think about it.
After graduation, I managed an upscale Indian restaurant overlooking the Cooper River just outside of Philly. I was a part of the opening team and expanded the restaurant from a 70-seat to a 150-seat restaurant. This was a valuable experience that taught be the intricacies of opening and managing a restaurant and the indispensable experience of managing a team. It was time for the next life experience, so I jumped in my Mazda Miata and drove to Chicago, a culinary city with which to be reckoned. My sister lives in Chicago and she was the solid rock that I needed during the foundation of my career- Always believing in me when I would doubt myself. I was hired by Vermilion and had a wonderful and a very fruitful experience for eight years. Here, I experienced an in-depth education about food, life and restaurants. Each and every day was a new learning experience and over the years, helped me weave a rich tapestry of culinary experience.
On a personal front, during this time I got married to a wonderful person, Vivek Deora, who has not only been an amazing life partner and my best friend, but has been a wonderful champion for me, someone who believes in me and supports me when things get the most difficult.
During my Vermilion tenure, I was fortunate to be invited to cook at the James Beard House. I was also proud to compete on Iron Chef against the legendary Chef Morimoto, be a contestant on Next Iron Chef and now, I am a full-time judge on Chopped.
Last year (2011), when I had my beautiful baby girl, I decided that it was time to venture out on my own. My daughter, Shagun, gives me a reason to push myself more and more, every day, to accomplish something that she can be proud of-to set an example, that every dream is attainable if you work hard enough. Right now there are two book projects underway, a restaurant opening up, another 2 in the talks, being involved with a few charitable organizations like CRY, WISHWAS etc, a few consulting projects, Chopped of course and a new baby is keeping my hands full.