Anahita is an Institute of Hotel Management Aurangabad and Le Cordon Bleu London Graduate, who dreamed of cruising around the world, cooking modern French cuisine, but in an incredible journey, today has become a cultural mascot and a youth icon and a trendsetter.
Born into one of the most unique communities of India and around the world, little did she know that her Parsi cultural identity will get her to this situation, where she becomes the face and influence to one of the most successful restaurant chains around the country.
At a young age of 27 Anahita Navroze Dhondy is the Chef Manager at the iconic Bombay Irani Cafe and Bar, SodabottleOpenerWala. Her recent accolades include ‘The Young Chef’ award, Times Food Award and the Hospitality Sector ‘Indian of the year’ title. Anahita also debuted on prime-time television, as a judge in a recently concluded TV food show called “Femme Foodies” which aired on Living Foodz where she shared the stage with Chef Ranveer Brar and Chef Shagun Mehra.
Parsis, the Zoroastrian community in India, as popularly known, has been one of the most successful communities in the country. Some of the Parsi families have been the economic powerhouses in the country, and the community has been known for being pioneers and innovators. What also makes them extremely interesting is the love for good rich cuisine. This Gujarati speaking community eats a beautiful hybrid food of Persian delicate flavours to robust and hearty food of Indian ingredients and spice mixes. Anahita is going back to her roots to discover and unearth some hidden jewels, and reignite the passion for Parsi cuisine.
Anahita always wanted to cook, and began at a very early age thanks to her mother Nilufer. However, the realization and love for the Parsi cuisine came as she started her diploma at Le Cordon Bleu in London. Missing her homemade food made her respect the cuisine and see it in a more beautiful light. Anahita upon her return felt extremely lucky to be at the helm of SodaBottleOpenerWala restaurant and post that opportunity there has been no looking back.
In a candid conversation, she also accepted that fact that she has taken it quite personally to tell more and more young female chefs to be prepared to flex their muscles and get their hands dirty. Being a ‘sissy’ is an absolute no. Everyone gets equal amount of work, extra hours and dedication to work in a hot kitchen is not easy and if someone really want to test their abilities and character, she invites all to be ready for hard work. Success as we all know is a mere outcome of many things – ‘E pluribus unum’ And as her father, Navroze, instilled in her, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen…. Hard work killed no one”
For Anahita more than the recognition, she identifies the strength of character that she has gained as real benefits of being a chef.
And as for the rest, everyone sit braced to see the young chef dish out example after example, for more young people to take up cooking as a career. We are rooting for this silent champion of hard work and love for local cuisine, becoming a trend setter.