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March 2016, Issue"The Gracious Woman in the Gourmet World"

Rashmi Uday SinghAuthor & Food Critic Gourmand World Cookbook Award Winner

She is six times World Gourmand award winner and author of 37 books and her name is synonymous with good food but she's not a chef. Who else could that be but Rashmi Uday Singh the trailblazing of Food and Health specialist and authority for the last two decades. Having graduated in English Literature (Hons), she went on to do her law (LLB) and management (Masters in Management) from Delhi and Mumbai Universities, respectively. In 2010, Rashmi was conferred the Atout France Best Media Personality Award.

This unique star has many firsts to her credit. She helped create India's first ever city-restaurant guide to Mumbai in 1997, as well as a Nightlife guide to Mumbai followed by a City restaurant guide to Pune. Rashmi has been doing inspiring work in the field of vegetarianism. Her vegetarian cookbook "Around the world in 80 plates" won many international awards. In her shoot with Gordon Ramsay for Channel 4, Rashmi not only convinced Gordon (a confirmed non vegetarian) to try vegetarian food but also to learn how to cook it. The world's first vegetarian guide to Paris made international waves, she has recently partaken of Rene Redzepi's NOMA's 12 course vegetarian meal and is working on the ultimate vegetarian guide to Dubai.

Having trained with the BBC in London, Rashmi was selected to Gordon Ramsay's South India guide and also filmed with Gordon for Channel 4 'Great Escapes'. She also completed a year-long successful TV series on DD Metro, 'Health Today' and the popular food and travel show 'Foodie Fundas with Rashmi Uday Singh'. Her TV show 'Delicious Discoveries with Rashmi Uday Singh' was broadcast on ET NOW and 'Foodie Awards' on TIMES NOW.

She is a regular columnist with The Times of India, Bombay Times and Chennai Times. She also writes regularly for many national and international magazines.

Now that you know a lot about this dynamic personality, it's time to hear more, but straight from the horse's mouth.

Tell us about your journey.
I wrote my IAS exam and worked for 15 years with the Income Tax department and resigned as Commissioner of Income tax in 1990. Right through my administrative services days I wrote about food and restaurants, because I love exploring and that's how I wrote India's first ever city restaurant guide.

What comes to your mind when you hear the word kitchen?
Kitchen brings to my mind a lot of love and care as well as fresh ingredients, warmth and love. It also brings to my mind creativity, that transforms those ingredients into great food.

Recall the first time, you made something alone in the Kitchen and your family's reaction after having the dish.
I made my first dish (a dessert of crushed biscuits and cream) when I was five years old. My mother is a great cook, she used to teach cooking and I used to help her, so I learnt a lot from her. Of course, everybody loved the dessert.

What are your fun moments in the Kitchen.
Creating, innovating and improvising is what I love to do in life and in the kitchen. So from baking the “corn on the cob” cake with totally different ingredients than what the recipe book demands to improvising the Mongolian steamboat… that's my idea of fun.

How do you balance your professional and personal life?
Consciously keeping time free to be with my family, be it visiting my son (he is an actor in Hollywood, LA) or visiting my mother in Delhi (as I live in Mumbai).

In a busy schedule how often do you cook for your family?
I don't cook as often as I would like to. We have a super cook and checking out restaurants and eating out is part of my job.

Do you get any help from your better half when you are in the kitchen?
My better half loves cooking and many a times I help him out.

How do you prove your culinary skills while hosting guests at very short notice?
I don't need to prove my culinary skills… I am not a chef.

Do you prepare your own ingredients or do you go for the ready to use ones?
I hate using ready to use mixes. Wholesome ingredients, always freshly ground, is my mantra.

If and when you cook, do you experiment or do you cook using traditional recipes?
A bit of both.

What's has been your role in planning & designing your Kitchen?
Just guiding the architect on space use and most importantly on being able to reach over to all the shelf space conveniently and quickly.

Does it matter to you to have a modern well equipped kitchen or a simple and convenient kitchen is good enough?
While I do have a modern well equipped kitchen, a convenient one is fine too. It's all about the person who is cooking and not about the appliances.

Where do you go when you feel like eating out?
Reviewing restaurants is part of my job. So I eat out regularly. I love Japanese and Chinese restaurants as much as I do holes in the wall, tucked away local eateries.

Do you snack while at work?
I do not like to snack.

Are you conscious about calories while eating?
Calorie counting is not my scene at all. I eat everything in moderation. I love dark chocolate and whenever I binge on it, I'm sure to make it up by balancing out my next meal. It's all about moderation.

What's next?
Am working on an international TV show on food and also the ultimate vegetarian guide to Dubai.