For this foodie, the world is her oyster. Ruchira Hoon Philip loves cooking, eating and writing about food. She has turned her passion for food into her profession.
What’s your story?
I’m a glutton. But that’s only half my story. I cook. I feed. I blog. I write. I develop. I do all things with food. I started cooking when I was 9 and I don’t think I’ve ever stopped really. I have been a journalist for over 10 years, participated in Masterchef India four years ago and I started food blogging about 3 years ago. Since then I have started developing recipes for restaurants, curating food events, critiquing restaurants and now I head the content and marketing of a brand new recipe aggregator site called BetterButter.in
Oh and I collect cookbooks!
What excites you most about your industry?
I love the fact that there’s unlimited possibilities in the food industry. That there is space for all. What you really need is to have your food sensibilities about you and a developed palate and then the world is your oyster.
I think this is an amazing time to be in the food industry. People are so much more aware of what they put in their mouths now and where their food is coming from. More questions means more opportunities.
What’s your connection to Asia?
For starters, I live in India. Home to at least 120 different varieties of cuisine. How much more exciting can that get.
I love that being in India now, means being exposed to so many things from our neighbouring countries. From Pakistan to Thailand to Sri Lanka, food tastes different and being in India, it’s accessible within a few hours.
Favourite city in Asia for business and why?
I’m torn here. My brain says Singapore but my heart says Bangkok. But to be fair, to be in Delhi or Mumbai at the moment, in the food industry, is a good place to be too. There’s a lot happening in these four cities – good food, great business acumen and an overall sense of excitement that’s almost infectious.
What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
Don’t worry about the money, do what you love and nurture your talent. I think I’ve always been afraid of taking that leap of faith, which is why I have always walked the fine line – to be a journalist or to cook. It took me a while to realise I could actually figure a middle path and do both. And here I am today, doing what I love, and not a day does it seem like “work”.
Who inspires you?
I think it’s more like what inspires me. Good food inspires me. Great food that knocks my socks off and that makes me want to hug it, inspires me. To be fair, I love watching people, love reading about the new trends, love looking at food pictures and then wait for a bit, and be filled with excitement.
Colours inspire me as do smells. Oh that smell of bacon frying, or cinnamon wafting through the kitchen – it’s all inspirational for me.
What have you just learnt recently that blew you away?
I’ve been judged all my life. Too rebellious they said, too troubled. So when I recently learnt that people actually looked up to me and thought I was doing good in the world, I felt very humbled. It was an emotional point for me and I didn’t see it coming. That blew me away.
But in terms of work, I had this meal, with my husband, which shut us both up, at Indian Accent. Oh the food, the food. Chef Manish Mehrotra is a magician. I wish I could have apprenticed under him.
If you had your time again, what would you do differently?
I wouldn’t have listened to my father and gone with my gut! So the story is such – when I finished school, I wanted to go into a Hotel Management school, he coaxed me into doing my bachelors in English and then apply.
Post that, I was readying myself to go to the CIA – Culinary Institute of America – he convinced me into doing my masters, which I graduated with honors in Mass Communication. And the next thing, I knew I was a journalist.
I wish I had put my foot down, it would have opened windows of opportunity that would have changed my life.
How do you unwind?
I have two dogs that drive me completely insane but they are so much fun. They are super entertaining. I also entertain a lot, so I love designing menus and thinking of my next meal. I also love murder mysteries and watch a lot of these shows such as CSI, Unforgettable, True Detective. The more murders to solve, the happier I get. I also love Modern Family and can watch it all the time.
Oh but when I’m really bummed, I like to bake or swim or just sleep.
Favourite Asian destination for relaxation? Why?
I have a few of them – Pondicherry for starters. Peace, quiet and general loveliness. Bangkok for it’s busy streets and awesome food and finally Bali, because it is just gorgeous.
Everyone in business should read this book:
Anything by James Beard, Ruth Reichl, Thomas Keller, Dorie Greenspan and even Ferran Adria is worth a dekko. Closer home I’d suggest we read up on Indian classics to learn about food.
Shameless plug for your business:
I blog because I love it. My blog is called www.thegreatcookaroo.com. But the truth is, I can’t stand still. I have to have my hands in many pies. And it’s through my blog I’ve got to do so many wonderful things such as; design menus for restaurants and now www.BetterButter.in, a site where we are collecting recipes, heirlooms, everyday or otherwise.
How can people connect with you?
Through email is great – [email protected]
This interview was part of the Callum Connect’s column found on The Asian Entrepreneur:
Callum Laing invests and buys small businesses in a range of industries around Asia. He has previously started, built and sold half a dozen businesses and is the founder & owner of Fitness-Buffet a company delivering employee wellness solutions in 12 countries. He is a Director of, amongst others, Key Person of Influence. A 40 week training program for business owners and executives.
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