With food in her genes, Patak’s Anjali cooks up a new storm with Flavour Diaries

By Rekha Balakrishnan|8th Mar 2018
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Flavour Diaries, an interactive foodie space located in the heart of Bandra, Mumbai, allows for hands-on cooking classes to explore, learn and indulge in European, Asian, Mediterranean and American cuisines.

Anjali Pathak has food in her genes, growing up as the next generation of a family business that took Indian cuisine into homes around the world – Patak’s.

Her grandparents started Patak’s in the mid-1950s, and her father took charge when he was only 17. She also joined the business at a young age and is still involved as a consultant.

Anjali, though, decided to take the food business one step further and embarked on a mission somewhat different from what her family undertook decades ago. She set up Flavour Diaries in Mumbai to infuse and introduce international flavours to India.

A business degree and some time with the family business to learn the tricks of the trade later, Anjali attended the prestigious Leiths School of Food & Wine in London. She went onto gain a distinction from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and a diploma in Diet & Nutrition. She shared her skills with thousands as a cookery champion for Jamie Oliver in London.

Anjali published her first cookbook in 2007, and her latest, Secrets from My Indian Family Kitchen, launched globally in 2015.

In November 2015, Anjali started Flavour Diaries, an interactive foodie space located in Bandra, Mumbai. The spacious setting allows for hands-on cooking classes to explore, learn and indulge in European, Asian, Mediterranean and American cuisines.

Placing firm emphasis on using fresh ingredients and sourcing local produce, Anjali provides step-by-step guidance, imparting tips from her years of varied experience, while ensuring guests revel in her fun and adventurous cooking style.

The venue’s open kitchen, one of the few in Mumbai, offers 16 hands-on stations. Participants can treat the cooking studio as their personal kitchenette, with Anjali guiding them through a food adventure from concept to creation. Additionally, the dining area allows guests to enjoy their culinary creations. Flavour Diaries is also a space for private foodie events.

In an interview with YourStory, Anjali talks about being a foodie, the family business, Flavour Diaries, and more.

YourStory: How and when did food interest you?

Anjali Pathak: I have always been a huge foodie, and recognised my calling in life from a young age. Every conversation around the family dining table centred around food and the food business my parents were building – Patak’s. I loved hearing tales of their travels and my mother’s recipe testing. I knew I wanted to be part of their legacy. I spent many school holidays working at the office, and gained invaluable experience for the life I was to pursue.

After finishing business school, I chose to join our business and was swiftly put through the rigorous training programme in New Product Development. I loved working on new recipes and seeing them on supermarket shelves all over the world. I started appearing on television and c0-wrote my first cookbook with my mother when I was 25. I launched my own cookbook globally three years ago. I started my food consultancy shortly after, launched my website www.anjalipathak.com and fulfilled my dream of attending culinary school in my late 20s.

Some of the best memories I have was working for Jamie Oliver in London as a cookery teacher and sharing my passion for all things food. This love led me to Mumbai to start my entrepreneurial journey and I opened my food startup ‘Flavour Diaries’ two years ago. It’s not only a new venture for me, but a new venture for India, as the first hands-on luxury interactive food events space. I’ve never been happier.

YS: What did you learn in your stint in the family business? 

AJ: I joined the family business as I wanted to gain training on the job. Backpacking around the world, I discovered I wanted to study at a chef school and returned to the UK to start working towards my future. Culinary school is expensive, and I had the opportunity to earn money and train as a chef - I jumped at the chance.

I loved my time at Patak’s. I joined the most exciting department – new product development! I spent many years working through different areas during my free time and school holidays and found my place in the innovations department. I worked to gain respect from my peers and proved myself as a valued asset to my team.

My family business taught me that nothing in life comes for free. Hard work and persistence is important for success, and the realisation that you are only as good as your team is what will keep you grounded.

YS: Next-generation entrepreneurs are often bogged down by expectations. Did you face any particular challenges?

AJ: My biggest challenge has been proving myself to people who haven’t worked with me. There is a presumption that second and third generation entrepreneurs live a privileged life, and although this is often true, I believe you make your own choices with the hand you are dealt. I saw my parents work hard to afford the life they gave my brothers and I, and this built a solid work ethic in me – the foundation you need to be an entrepreneur.

YS: Your mission now seems to move in a different direction from what your family sought to address – you want to introduce international flavours to India. How did this come about?

AJ: My family has always wanted to bring Indian food into homes across the world. I visited India many times over my working life and always hoped I could join the vibrant food scene here. Flavour Diaries is an interactive food events space designed for guests to indulge and delight in international cuisine. We share recipes over hands-on cookery classes, host chefs table experiences, and offer British Afternoon Tea. I want to bring the fun back into the kitchen and encourage positive food habits to help us live a longer and healthier life.

At Flavour Diaries, I wanted to share my recipes, recipes from my ancestors, recipes from my past, and recipes for armchair foodie travellers. I use flavours from my childhood, techniques learnt from culinary school and recipes I’ve created from my experiences and travels to infuse Mumbai with tastes from around the world. I want India to see food through my eyes. 

YS: Who is your target audience?

AJ: I’ve always been a firm believer that there is a foodie inside each of us, and there is something for everyone at Flavour Diaries, whether it is a children’s class for those little masterchefs, a cookery class for hobby cooks, groups of friends that want to have foodie fun, or guests wishing to have a chefs table experience sharing a meal together. 

YS: Can you tell us more about your experience with Jamie Oliver?

AJ: I was a cookery teacher for Jamie Oliver in London at his cookery school called Recipease. I loved the culinary freedom we had as teachers as I loved sharing my love for food. Seeing the joy in my students when they created a dish was fabulous, and it inspired me to build Flavour Diaries.

YS: What are your future plans – professionally and personally?

AJ: I hope to take Flavour Diaries to other cities in India, and eventually overseas. I am also working on my next cookbook and am continuing sharing my recipes and love of food through the media and television.