1) Tell us about yourself, starting from your family, education and rewards you have received in your entrepreneurial career.
CHEF NELLU KAURA: A very good afternoon to everyone. My name is Nellu Kaura and I'm a chef by profession. To start with, I was born in Rajpura, Punjab. I grew up with three sisters and one brother. Back then, my father had a private job and he tried his best to make sure that all his children got a good education. Despite all of it, I could only complete my school education since, my father had resigned from his job in Karnal and it was either me or my younger sister, who could go to school and college. Although I was good at studies, I chose to get the opportunity to study further. Meanwhile, I joined as a school teacher and privately completed my graduation. Always being a topper in every field, I was awarded as the best teacher. When I was 21, I got married to the family of Kauras. Although it was "Jhatt Mangani Patt Shaadi", it was only after I got married that I pursued my spirit of learning for driving, swimming and even computers. My husband and my family here supported me so much that I fulfilled all my incomplete dreams.
Initially, I loved cooking traditional food that, I had learned from my mother until I came to know that my husband is very fond of different cuisines. His love for eating led me to learn different recipes from my mother and practice till I attained perfection. I tried new recipes with the help of cookbooks and on his birthday, I surprised him by making continental cuisines. His smile said it all, and I could see the actual meaning of the proverb- 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach'. That marked the beginning of my new adventurous journey into the world of food. And throughout the way, my husband became both my best as well as my worst critic. The experiments with food have been a lot of fun and have kept our romance alive in our relationship. I know that all it takes is a yummy home-baked chocolate cookie for him, to melt like chocolate! A bite of my Italian risotto makes him call me 'Senorita'!
A big list is on the way if we are talking about the rewards in the Culinary Field that I have achieved. Starting from the district, national and International Competitions, I have participated in and won many of them. But with every tournament, a victory or defeat is not all that I took home. Every single competition made me learn something. I think it is never too late to get knowledge and since then, I have gained experience in the menu setup and have organized various workshops with renowned chefs like Harpal Singh Sokhi Ji, Ranveer Brar, Nishant Choubey, Kandla Nijhowne and many more. Food has always been my source of feeling content and has given me the motivation to devote my time to several NGOs too.
2) Say something about your journey from Nellu Kaura to Entrepreneur Chef Nellu Kaura.
CHEF NELLU KAURA: I am a very simple and easy-going woman who believes in great thinking while being connected to the ground. I think, there must be a balance between family and career. If you want to succeed, you have to maintain that and what's most important is, family support. I have got that all. Moving from just a name "NELLU KAURA", I became the best Entrepreneur of the year with the best event organized "BAVARCHI".
3) What all hurdles did you face in your early career? How did you manage them?
CHEF NELLU KAURA: Although I have gone through a lot, but didn't let it stop me from becoming the best version of myself. It is said that you do not feel the happiness of victory until you haven't gone through the hurdles. I think it is only because I believed in myself and kept reminding that I am unstoppable, it has made me realize that it is not about winning, but more importantly, it is about learning. Yes, there have been times when I have lost competitions but never let myself down and always try to learn something or the other from the experience. I made myself strong enough to take every defeat as a lesson for all my upcoming competitions in life.
I still remember the difficult time when my Father-in-law had a paralytic attack and I had to take a break from the culinary world for years. Even when my husband suffered from a pancreatic problem, I made sure that taking care of him was my utmost priority and hence, had to keep cooking to the side burner. During this period, I completely disconnected myself from everything that was happening in the culinary career back then. Later, when things stabilized, I made a move again and since then, never looked back and realised that hurdles are a part of life but, we should never let them override our dreams and passion.
4) Give your invaluable contribution to the women chef's association. Was that of any help or it was a complete waste?
CHEF NELLU KAURA: I think everyone has talent but what matters is, who can make out of the opportunity they get. I believe that if one is capable of doing anything for others, they must always push others and help them in achieving the goals and dreams as well. BAVARIA, RASOI QUEEN and many such events are the true examples of this. I know, I would never hold back if in the future I need to do anything to contribute towards the Culinary section.
Also, these are a few of my achievements and awards I have received during the time I dedicated to the culinary field:
Starting from television shows:
a) Judge at Masterchef Punjabi on DD Punjabi.
b) My recipes in Zaika was telecasted on DD National.
c) Punjab De Superchef on PTC Punjabi with Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi.
d) Lufthansa cook and fly TV Show telecasted on NDTV Good Times with Chef Kunal Kapoor.
Recipes published in Newspapers and achievements in culinary excellence :
a) LG Malika-e-Kitchen 1st. position at District level Ludhiana.
b) 2nd. position at Northern India Level and participation at National Level in Jaipur.
c) Star Chef Punjab—Winner in Ludhiana and participation in grand finale at Hoshiarpur.
d) Oster Moment of Pride - 1st runner up from All over India.
e) II International Chef Meet—Bronze Medal and ₹22,000/- cheque awarded by Chef Manjeet Gill at Chandigarh.
f) Chef De Punjab - 3rd Position plus 50000 rupees cheque by City Group of Jalandhar.
g) CF 2014—Bronze medal under rice category awarded by honorable chef Nalin from Sri Lanka.
h) ICF 2015 - Silver and Bronze Medals.
i) CF 2016 - Silver and Bronze Medals.
j) Punjab De Superchef - Winner from Ludhiana and participation at Finale held at Phagwara with Chef Harpal Singh Sokhi.
k) Lufthansa cook and fly contest - 1st Runner—Up, judged by Chef Kunal Kapoor and recipe published in Lufthansa cook and fly book.
l) Lady Chef Of the Year award 2017.
m) Celebrity Chef Award 2018.
n) Asian Book Record holder as an Influencer at 100 women faces by COWE (Confederation of Women Entrepreneurs).
o) Awarded as a best enthusiastic chef by Breaking News Punjab.
p) Awarded among top 10 Females in Ludhiana on Women's Day.
5) Give one recipe of your choice.
CHEF NELLU KAURA: Recipe of INSTANT SUSHI;
4 bread slices
Peanut butter sauce
Sweet onion sauce
Salted Peanuts (Crushed)
Nimbu Masala Namkeen
* Take a bread slice and flatten it with the help of a rolling pin.
* Apply peanut butter sauce, sweet onion sauce and mayonnaise (optional).
* Add mango, cucumber, bell peppers at one end and start rolling by making the corners soft with the help of water.
* Roll tightly in the Aluminum Foil and freeze for around half an hour.
* Uncover and roll them over the sweet onion sauce. Repeat the rolling over crushed peanuts and Nimbu masala nankeen.
* Cut into small pieces and serve.
INTERVIEWED: Chef Nellu Kaura.
INTERVIEW TAKEN BY: Khatibah Rehmat, Senior Journalist.
PICTURE COURTESY: Chef Nellu Kaura.
EDITED BY: Shruti Bhushal.