The ‘jhoola table’ at Lavaash is their headquarter. They go to Bangkok to eat burgers at McDonald’s. ‘Mota dog’ and ‘patla dog’ are their favourite hashtags. They gossip about boys. They can’t do without seeing each other every day. They recently celebrated their one-year friendversary! Well, meet Kohli Saab and Radzie, popularly known as Chef Megha and Chef Radhika.
Our #BossLadies- Radhika Khandelwal of Fig & Maple/Ivy & Bean and Megha Kohli of Lavaash by Saby are breaking breads as well as the glass ceiling! Their PDA on Instagram will make any couple jealous. It is rather difficult to believe that both of them met a year ago at a chef’s table. And even more difficult to imagine what they did before that! Because now both of them are inseparable. From shopping to eating to travelling, there is nothing they don’t do together.
But one question which comes to everyone’s mind is how do they manage to be friends within such a competitive F&B industry? “It’s a total misconception that two female chefs can’t be friends. We have mutual admiration for each other’s work and celebrate each other’s achievements. Beyond that we love each other”, says Megha. Radhika adds, “Infact Megha saved me from a major embarrassment one time by pointing out the excess salt in a batch of cookies I was baking”.
Born and brought up in Delhi, Radhika moved to Canada in 2005 to pursue her higher education (English & Phycology) and subsequently to Australia. It’s in Melbourne that her love affair with food started. She learnt tricks of the trade will doing an apprenticeship at a restaurant during her student days (while she was training to be a hairstylist. no wonder her food aesthetics are always on point!). And she even managed to run a little business in Melbourne- a Deli.
Her return to India was a rather hasty decision. But her career choice had been made. She would later spend all her savings to open Ivy & Bean in Shahpur Jat in 2013 and subsequently Fig & Maple, Greater Kailash in 2017.
Moving onto a more pertinent question. The culinary business is no more a male stronghold. But was it easy for them to don the chef hat? “Ofcourse not. People think female chefs can just make for a pretty face and are there for social media amplification while somebody else is doing the cooking. Infact its most surprising to see male chefs think that way. They can be quite cocky too. But I give it off to them”, asserts Radhika. Both of them are sweetest to their staff during off service hours but can be quite the tough taskmasters otherwise. “Female chefs have to put double the effort for people to take them seriously especially so the male staff”, adds Megha.
Having a grown up in a typical Delhi Punjabi household with a lot of good food around, cooking was a natural progression for Megha. The dilemma was either to study English literature at the prestigious Jesus & Marry College or opt for the STEP programme at Oberoi’s post her schooling. Encouraged by her mother, she chose the latter and rest is history! She trained in several Oberoi kitchens for years before making the switch to Olive which was the turning point in her career.
Being mentored by Chef Sabyasachi Gorai was nothing less than a dream for Megha. She became one of the youngest Head Chef’s of the country at the age of 22 when she took charge of Olive Beach. Hence the move from Olive to Lavaash was only natural.
They finish off the conversation by adding that the industry isn’t as glamorous as it looks and spending endless hours in a cramped hot kitchen can be mentally and physically exhausting. But the two are happiest during busy kitchen hours. “It gives me a high when orders are flowing in. It’s an adrenaline rush!”, says Megha. Their passion has surely taken them places.
1. Who are you stalking on Instagram?
R: Chef Dominique Crenn
M: Chef Dominique Crenn
2. Your comfort food
R: Khow suey
M: Rajma chawal
3. Your favourite dish cooked by the other
R: Tandoor fish
M: Chicken sandwich
4. How do you deal with bad days?
R: Clean my room
M: Eat momos
5. Describe the other person in three words
R for M: Funny, grumpy, cheesy
M for R: Granny, psycho, great friend
We have to say that they have such a fun and happy vibe. This is one interview we loved doing. You will surely see us hanging out with them more often!