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Cooking Up A Storm

March 3, 2014 , by Shraddha Thapa, Leave your thoughts
Cooking Up A Storm » My Dreams Mag

At a time when many youngsters have shied away from Nepal because of economic instability and security concerns, some women have not just returned to Nepal but decided to start businesses, investing all they had. DREAMS talk to a few of these gutsy women who own successful food businesses to find out their success mantra, food philosophy, and many more such yummy nuggets!

 

When reading an article ‘The Gods of Food’ on Time Magazine I was disappointed to see how the magazine featured a bunch of male chefs as “The world’s most powerful chefs”, ignoring females in the same business. I did not question their choice, since people still hold the fallacy that women can cook homely food but running a business is quite a farfetched dream for them. But I recently interviewed young and talented women who are creating buzz in the food world, which proved the sentence wrong.

At a time when many youngsters have shied away from Nepal because of economic instability and security concerns, these women have not just returned to Nepal but decided to start businesses, investing all they had. DREAMS talk to a few of these gutsy women to find out their success mantra, their food philosophy, and many more such yummy nuggets!

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Avisha with her chocolates

SUCCESS & CHOCOLATE : Avisha

Avisha Tuladhar is the prime example that sometimes you need to leave behind everything you have to build your own dream. After earning a Bachelor’s degree in International Business Management (IBM) from Bangkok and several genuine job offers, Avisha chose to come back to Nepal. “I always believed that if one is capable of leading someone else’s company, then they can surely lead their own company,” she shares. Now she runs a homemade chocolate business—barely a year old— that sold out 100 cones of chocolate roses, chocolate boxes, and five kgs of chocolates with different fillings—this Valentine’s Day.

Her company now makes white, semi-sweet and dark chocolates that come with fillings like butterscotch, white cream, coffee, orange, jellies, mixed nuts, rice cracker, and coconut. The chocolates are apt for all occasions, and they also make customized chocolates. All of the chocolates are handmade, and contain no preservatives.

What is your Chocolate Philosophy?

My chocolate philosophy is very simple—let the chocolate taste like chocolate. You can incorporate different ingredients, but those flavors should be used only to strengthen the core flavors of the chocolate. It is always good to understand the importance of “less is more”. Each chocolate should be a delight, from its packaging, texture, to the striking aroma and authenticity of the chocolate itself.

What was your inspiration in opening up a chocolate store?

I was originally working for Standard Chartered Bank in Account Services & Trade Operations, but I always felt like I should be doing something more interesting, something of my own. Meanwhile, my uncle told me about his Chocolatier friend in India who was making pretty good money by making homemade chocolates. His passion for chocolate, his challenges, and his success fascinated me. Also, as Nepalis and Indian have pretty similar tastes, I thought the idea might work in Nepal too. I decided to realign my career. I started to read books on chocolatiers, and even took course from professionals on the art of making chocolates. Every day, as I learned more about chocolates, I felt more determined. That’s when I discovered I loved working with chocolate. After some research, eventually I decided to open my own business that would combine my love for chocolate with my passion to start my own business.

What kind of challenges did you face?

Well, it was not simple.I could not find some ingredients and proper packaging boxes in the local market. We had to import both ingredients and boxes from India, which certainly affected our cost.

What, according to you, is the scenario of female entrepreneurship in Nepal?

Nepal has endless potential and opportunities for innovative business ideas. I don’t think the challenges in any venture differ according to gender. Both male/female entrepreneurs face equal challenges, and both need to put in equal amounts of dedication & hard work to thrive.

Shokolade
Home made Chocolate,
FB Link: https://www.facebook.

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PMLDUO’S DELIGHT: Samiksha and Deepika

Founded less than a year ago, Pack My Lunch (PML) delivers the most affordable and healthy lunch boxes to office-goers as per order. Co-founders and cousins Samiksha Rai and Deepika Shrestha studied in India and decided to come back to Nepal as they were tired of being tagged ‘second class citizens’ there. The duo feels that young skills and expertise are more needed here than elsewhere, so why be ordinary when you can be EXTRA-ordinary?

One thing the duo strongly believes is that to ‘see the change,’ it is important to ‘be the change’. With this spirit they founded PML, despite much scoffing and condemnation from many. The duo are very hands-on with their venture: be it shopping for fresh vegetables in the morning, measuring the amount of oil that goes into each meal, or helping with packaging, and even making deliveries around town, they do everything on their own.

 

What was your inspiration?

During our three years stay in Delhi, one thing that we really missed was home cooked meals. From the so called finest restaurants in town to the local joints, no one actually satisfied our craving until we came across the life saving ‘dabbawalas’. Dabbawalas are people in crisp white shirts and Nehru caps delivering fresh home-cooked meals to hungry office-goers at affordable prices.

Motivated by the idea, we started a similar venture in Kathmandu called ‘Pack My Lunch’ in 2013, delivering Continental, Indian, and Nepali lunch boxes. Our main objective was to make lunch affordable, hygienic and delicious. After all, those difficult crunches at the gym are a constant reminder of why you should eat right.

 

What kind of challenges did you face?

Although plagued by several problems in the beginning, the company grew from strength to strength, affirming our dedication towards the business.

Understanding the taste of Nepalis, we primarily rolled out a limited menu consisting mainly of a Nepali lunch set. But soon we realized that people also prefer continental and Indian menus, hence we extended our menu as per their demand.

Another major challenge was that of never ending price fluctuations of raw materials. We had no idea how often they would change, which deeply affected our pricing. However, through time we have learned to work with an extra margin to deal with these fluctuations.

 

How do you handle staffs and customers?

PML2We enjoy working with our team of employees and helping them deliver the best to customers. We think the only way to make them enthused to work harder is by appreciating their good work. We do not mind them making mistakes, for it is only human. However, we cannot stand it if they do not want to learn from their mistakes and grow further. We are always keen to learn new things, and we expect the same from the staff.

Having earned loyal customers from Armed Police Force (APF), USAID, to The British School. Civil Bank, Global IME, Himal Media, British embassy and Koshi Overseas Company, we like to believe that we have come a long way. We know the value of being consistent and efficient. And so far, the response has been very encouraging. People love our food and are happy with the price we offer. We are also focused on strengthening relationships with our existing consumers and establishing connections to new ones.

 

What are the opportunities and challenges for female entrepreneurs in Nepal?

We are such a young country in terms of entrepreneurship, as long as we are creative and ready to work hard, the opportunities are boundless.

It is overwhelming to be a ‘woman’ and an ‘entrepreneur’. Despite several positive changes, people still don’t take female entrepreneurs seriously. We think it is important to change that patriarchal mentality and accept that a woman is equally capable to run a business as a man, if not better.

Pack My Lunch
Ph:9803496546
Email: packmylunchnepal@gmail.com
Website: www.packmylunchnepal.com
FB Link: https://www.facebook.

 

 

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THE NINA WAY: Nina

Nina at her cafeServing intoxicating burgers, pork chop, salmon steak, hot chocolate and coffee, Café Nina has been revolutionizing Kathmandu’s culinary scene since Nina debuted her first restaurant in 2010. Nina Tiwari comes from a family who love to indulge themselves in food, whether by trying out different cuisines or making new recipes— Nina’s family loves everything about food. “One thing that has always been a constant in my life is me love for food. As I started learning more about food and trying out food from different countries, I started to appreciate diversity in food and the process of cooking,” says Nina.

 

What was your inspiration?

I was doing my masters in New York when my father called me and said he needed me back. Immediately I packed my bags and headed home.

It was my childhood dream to open a restaurant. As I grew up, I wanted to own a restaurant with an art gallery as I am an art student. So in partnership with my cousin, we opened café Nina at Chakrapath, with just seating for 12 initially. Consumers today crave novelty, bolder flavours and foods that help them feel alive, engaged and connected, and the small space did not really matter.

 

What is your Food Philosophy?

For me, food is the perfect medium to express my creative thoughts and ideas as I can mould, paint and add flavour to every recipe, creating a masterpiece. It is the language of my family, and the stories we share with each other. My initial interest in food was tied to my own family food tradition. How they started and how they were going to be carried on by the next generations. It is a very personal journey that became my professional journey as a restaurateur.

 

How do you interact with your staff and customers?

Cafe NinaRelationship with staffs totally depends on trust, and you must give them enough room for enhancement. I love to create opportunities for my staffs, hence I like to delegate work based on their abilities. I believe this really boosts their confidence.

I think if you are a really good learner, you will learn by observing. So I simply ask my staffs to observe how I serve food, present menu, or do something as simple as offer water. I don’t hire people with ‘I know it all’ attitude, because it is quite difficult to deal with such people.

I am immensely in love with my work, and every morning I look forward to deliver the pre-eminent to my customers, who have been very supportive. I love interaction with customers, there is nothing better than satisfying a customer. It is like instant gratification. Being a restaurateur, it is crucial to know your customers and what they want. I know my customers and how they want their food to be cooked, and they appreciate the fact that I am here.

Service is extremely important in a restaurant. I don’t mind serving orders or picking up dirty plates as long as my customers are satisfied with our service. I always say that people will come to the restaurant for food, but they will come back for service.

 

What is the scene like for female entrepreneurs in Nepal?

It’s been a growing field and enormously encouraging for women than before. I feel women are exploring new fields, and that this is just the beginning.

Cafe Nina,
Saleways Department Store,
Chakrapath, Kathmandu,
Ph: 985-1130043
FB Link: https://www.facebook.

 

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LOVE FOR BAKING: Kala

CIMG0661aHugely successful since its establishment, Lakuri Cafe has earned itself the name and fame of being best getaway for quick bites and confectionary products in the capital. The warm and friendly ambience is perfect for spending a day with freshly ground coffee and your choice of bakery delights. Kala Gurung, Co-owner of Lakuri Café, says the café has been focusing on quality and is reluctant to compromise on it. “Lakuri Café is known for the continuation of its standards, which is why people trust us. And that trust is something we cannot afford to lose,” Kala asserts.

The café is best known for a variety of cakes such as Chocolate Brownies, Chocolate Devil Cake, Lemon Drizzle Cake, Carrot Cake, and Strawberry Cheesecake. They have recently moved to a bigger place in Baluwatar where they share the premises with Soma café—one of their ventures. They would like to continue to introduce new products in order to provide variety to clients.

 

What was your inspiration?

I worked for more than two decades in the Development Sector— a 9 to 5 job. I was quite enjoying it until one day I felt that it was a high time for a little change in life.

My siblings and I decided to start Lakuri because we wanted to explore our shared interests. Also, there was a huge market for bakeries, as these days people don’t mind spending on customized cakes or good muffins. Opening a cake shop was something we all agreed on, as being one’s own boss is a really nice feeling.

What is your Baking Philosophy?

My baking philosophy is all about being honest and enjoying what I do. And what fascinate me about baking are its challenges and the feeling of accomplishment once you produce something that you are really proud of. We have varieties of cake, muffins, and pastries that most of our customers believe are delicious.

What challenges did you face?

Lakuri 3For us, the biggest challenge is getting a regular supply of ingredients for our products. It is very difficult to get a reliable and regular supply of genuine raw materials.

Presently we try to work as much as possible with local products like vegetables, dairy products and coffee, encouraging the idea of farm-to-table. I must say we are happy with the quality of these products which are fresh and hygienic.

 

What are the opportunities and challenges for female entrepreneurs in Nepal?

I find it challenging at times, but I am lucky to have my family around to support and help me. According to me, the biggest disadvantage for women entrepreneurs is the expectations that the society have from women–mostly family obligations and cultural perceptions of women. Nevertheless, the environment is quite positive.

Lakuri Cafe,
Baluwatar, Opposite The Russian Embassy,
Kathmandu
Ph: 980-3477038
FB Link: https://www.facebook.com/

 

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In a good kitchen, it does not matter whether the cook is male or female. It is clear that food world is celebrating the enormous talent of females— be it chefs or restaurateurs who are doing incredible work.

 

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Text By: Shraddha Thapa

Please send us your comments/feedbacks at: feedback@mydreamsmag.com

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  • Avisha with her chocolates
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  • Nina at her cafe
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