Blogger, food writer, curator of events and editorial consultant
HERE’S HOW I SPEND MY WORKING HOURS…
1. I write a bi-monthly food trends column, Fortune Cookie, and a Sunday food special (also on alternate weeks) for Mail Today, India Today Group’s daily newspaper published from Delhi/NCR. I also write for the newspaper’s travel and books sections, and for India Today’s Spice as well as Simply Delhi/Simply Celebrate pullouts and the DailyO opinions website.
2. As Consulting Editor, I have launched BW Hotelier, the Indian edition of the reputed and globally circulated B2B magazine, Hotelier International, published in conjunction with the reputed business magazine of 30 years’ standing, BW Businessworld. I contribute to the publication’s website, www.bwhotelier.com, and put together the five BW Hotelier Conclaves that are organised in a year. And I also steer the BW Hotelier Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit, the first edition of which was launched in March 2016.
3. I have had the privilege of putting together two editions of the Asian Hawkers Market (a third is on its way), a first-of-its-kind event where leading five-star hotels and standalone restaurants of Delhi-NCR come together to showcase the cuisines of China, Japan, Korea, Burma and South-East Asia. The third edition will rolled out on October 21-23, 2016, at Select Citywalk, Saket. My two most satisfying recent events have been the delWine Excellence Awards (http://www.delwineexcellenceawards.com/), which was attended by the who’s who of the wine fraternity from Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Nashik and Nagpur, and the Indian Wedding Travel Mart, which attracted exhibitors from Mauritius, Monaco, Sri Lanka and Thailand, apart from local participants.
4. I am a Founder Member of the Delhi Gourmet Club, which has acquired a formidable reputation with its four highly successful initiatives discussed at greater length in my autobiographical essay. Additionally, I have served on the juries of well-regarded cookery competitions (most recently, Hyatt Culinary Challenge) and bartending face-offs (such as the Monin Challenge Cup).
5. I have written (and/or continue to write) for a host of publications, including Travel+Leisure, Mumbai Mirror, the Times Life section of the Sunday Times of India, BT More (now known as BT Spice), Man’s World and The Black Book. My articles have also appeared in the house journals of The Oberoi and The Leela groups of hotels. In the past, I contributed regularly to three well-regarded magazines — BBC Good Food, India Today Travel Plus and Time Out — that have folded up.
6. I have provided research and editorial services to the famous hotelier, S.S.H. Rehman, former chief of ITC Hotels and head of a number of CII committees, to write his autobiography, From Borders to Boardrooms (Roli Books).
AND HERE’S MY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY…
After devoting 28 years of my working life to active journalism, a career that has seen me don the mantles of the Executive Editor of Mail Today, Editor of HT City, the daily lifestyle and entertainment section of Hindustan Times, and National Features Editor of The Indian Express, I decided in 2013 to go solo as freelance writer and editorial consultant, food columnist, restaurant critic and blogger, and curator of food events.
I am also the co-founder of the Delhi Gourmet Club, which in its short life of four years, has acquired a formidable reputation with a flurry of highly successful initiatives — Top Chef Awards Delhi-NCR (http://www.topchefawards.com/); Great Butter Chicken Cook-Off (which had a successful beginning with 28 chefs from five-star hotels and standalone restaurants participating in it on the eve of the Top Chef Awards Season 3); Gourmet Passport (a much sought-after book of ‘buy one main course, get one main course free’ discount coupons — http://www.buygourmetpassport.com/); and, in conjunction with Groupon (now renamed nearbuy), the bi-annual Delhicious Week, which has completed four successful runs, as well as its offshoot, The Gourmet Studio, a series of first-of-its-kind monthly restaurant promotions centred around young and accomplished yet not-so-famous chefs.
Nothing is dearer to me, though, than the joy of writing. I write a bi-weekly Op-Ed column on food trends titled ‘Fortune Cookie’ for Mail Today, India Today Group’s daily newspaper, where I am also the restaurant trends watcher, and I have contributed regularly to Mumbai Mirror (a publication of The Times of India), Times Life (the Sunday lifestyle section of TOI), BBC Good Food, Travel + Leisure, India Today Travel Plus, India Today Spice, BT More, Man’s World, Time Out and The Black Book, apart from the lifestyle magazines published by The Oberoi and The Leela hotels. I have two books to my credit — Sakura’s Kitchen: Cuisine & Culture of Japan (2005), written for the then Metropolitan Hotel Nikko in New Delhi, and Italian Wine Guide (2006) for the Italian Trade Commission in India. I co-authored the guide with Subhash Arora, President, Indian Wine Academy.
Among my other diversions was the act of co-founding the Delhi Wine Club many moons ago — again in the august company of Mr Arora. As a result, over the years, I have been fortunate to have interviewed and interacted with some of the leading wine personalities of the world, including Angelo Gaja, Aurelio Montes, Bruce Cakebread, Frederic Engerer, Pierre Lurton, and the Chateau Margaux trio of Paul Pontallier, Alexandra Petit-Mentzelopoulos and Thibault Pontallier.
On 25 August 2013, I chose to venture into the blogosphere, recording development in the restaurant industry, sharing my travel experiences, offering insights (I hope!) on the hotel business, and interviewing personalities. This website is my third avatar on blogosphere. My first was http://www.indianrestaurantspy.blogspot.in/. My second was the present website sporting what I thought was a staid look. This new and re-designed http://www.indianrestaurantspy.com/ is my third and (i hope!) my better-looking avatar. People eat to live, or live to eat. I eat to write and write to eat. I can’t imagine a better way to make a living!