Her warm smile and her gracious demeanor make recently turned entrepreneur, Nikhila Palat one of the most endearing personas in the city's professional circle. She is the dynamic CEO of Katalyst Reputation Management, a company specializing in Public Relations, Marketing, Digital and Design solutions. With over 15 years of experience in the luxury and lifestyle industry, Nikhila's company handles over 20 of the country's top brands including the country's premier hospitality chain The Taj Mahal Palace, Mumbai, Taj Wellington Mews, India's premiere luxury serviced apartments, The Imperial Club by Taj and the flagship of the Vivanta hotels - Vivanta by Taj President, Mumbai. The enterprising lady also spearheads the Taj Coffee Table Magazine that is placed in every room across the Taj Group. An MBA in Marketing, she is armed with a diploma in Creative New Media and the Web from Harvard University, Boston. And if all these accomplishments weren't enough, she is currently pursuing a second MBA from the reputed Glion University in Switzerland. With her multitude of experience, she only takes on brands she strongly believes in and offers them her complete attention in order to help grow their brand in the competitive Indian market space. A former-National champion in tennis and even a Miss India finalist, Nikhila has donned many a hat, however her dream was always to be a successful CEO and with Katalyst Reputation Management, she is one step closer towards fulfilling her dreams! We caught up with the dynamic diva and here's what she had to say.
Tell us about your journey to where you are today. What made you take up this profession?
I started work at the age of 16. I dabbled in a variety of disciplines from finance to fashion, from entertainment to hospitality, from Animation to Public Relations. In my tenure I have had the luxury of working with some of the topmost brands in India. However it has always been my childhood dream to start my own company and so in May 2016, I am setting out to make my dream a reality.
What comes to your mind when you hear the word KITCHEN?
Deliciousness! I love the aroma of freshly baked bread, the sizzle of the spice in the pan. I also love the slow rising of a cake that's baking in the oven.
Recall the first time, you made something alone in the Kitchen and the reactions that followed.
I think the first dish I made in the kitchen was a simple cheese toast. A staple home snack, I chose to add some flavor with onions and chilies and some chopped vegetables. The dish didn't look good. But the taste was very satisfying. My mother's reaction was priceless as I had left the kitchen in a total mess.
Share your fun moments in the Kitchen.
My husband and I once decided to be experimental in the kitchen and make artisan candles by melting wax over the stove and adding spices and other kitchen ingredients to give it colour and aroma. In our enthusiasm we almost ended up blowing up my mother's kitchen!
How do you balance your professional and personal life?
My husband - Vivan and most of my friends are all nocturnal. So we spend the day working hard and the night is for us to hangout, go for dinners, watch movies and all the other things we love doing. I speak to my parents several times a day and do try and catch up with my parents though every week.
In a busy schedule how often do you cook for your family?
Rarely. Much to their delight as they are really not fans of my food. My mother-in-law is a fantastic cook and so is my husband, so I am always well fed.
Do you get any help from your better half when you are in the kitchen?
Yes. He is an excellent cook. And finds cooking therapeutic.
How do you prove your culinary skills while hosting guests at very short notice?
Aglio Olio pasta is my quick fix dish!
Any secret ingredients you use?
Cliché as its sounds, my secret ingredient has always been love!
Do you prepare your own ingredients or do you go for the ready to use ones?
It really depends on the dish. And how much time I have on hand.
If and when you cook do you experiment or do you cook traditionally following your mother's recipes?
I follow the recipes of the icons in the culinary industry, who I have the luxury of working closely with, the legendary master chefs – Chef Hemant Oberoi and Chef Ananda Solomon. My dishes are nowhere near theirs but it feels special to be in august company.
What's your role in the planning and designing of your Kitchen?
Minimal, to be honest. I just turn to pictures I like and my husband makes them come to life.
A modern well equipped kitchen versus a simply convenient kitchen, what would you prefer? How does it make a difference?
Personally I love open kitchens. It's like dress circle seats to all the action!
Where do you go when you feel like eating out?
I frequent kebab korner and long & short at Intercontinental, Zaffran, Welli Deli at Taj Wellington Mews, Souk at Taj and the Konkan cafe at Vivanta by Taj President.
Do you snack while at work --- if so what do you prefer?
Fruits are the best snack, as they are both nutritious and delicious.
What is your secret to good health?
I only eat my main meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner and don't really snack through the day.
Are you conscious about calories while eating?
Who is your role model?
My cocker spaniel puppy - Muffin is my role model. She is kind, thoughtful, loyal and loving. Like the popular dessert that she's named after, Muffin too is perfect!
Work. Work. And more work...