From a home cook to a celebrated chef running her own culinary academy, Chef Rakhee Vaswani has proved that motherhood goes hand in hand with making magic with her career trajectory. Mommy to Aneeshaa, 22, and Akhil, 19, Rakhee has celebs including Malaika Arora, Mini Mathur, Mandira Bedi and Shaheen Abbas lining up to perfect their chops in the kitchen under her expert hands. The desi Nigella Lawson has a food show Rewind with Rakhee, bestseller Picky Eaters, and workshops and classes at her Palate Culinary Studio. Yet she stays knitted to her brood.

Excerpts from a conversation

Celebrity chef and television show host Rakhee Vaswani believes in prioritising her kids. Nothing succeeds like old fashioned love, she says
Have you ever taken a break on the career front?

Of course! I used to work when my daughter was one year old. I had started cookery classes from home. I worked through my second pregnancy and then again after a maternity break started when my son was young. We were experiencing a financial crunch at that point in time. Fortunately the situation eased up and by the time the kids were 6-7 years of age, I was able to take a break from work for 10 years. The guilt pangs of a working mom were beginning to kill me, honestly. Even though Aneeshaa and Akhil were with nani and dadi, I felt they needed me around; to drop off and pick up from birthday parties, spend time with them…After conducting my classes, I had no energy left. So my kids were getting neglected.

So you elected to be a full time mother…

I always wanted to be around my kids, wanted to be a hands-on mother. More so as my mother had always been working as she did not have a choice. Though that did make me grow up strong and independent, but when I had the choice, I put work on the backburner to give them my undivided attention.

Ten years off from work and never a niggling regret?

No. None, at all. I enjoyed being with my children, creating indelible memories, baking for them, making special meals, cook offs with them and their friends…My daughter used to take a keen interest in cooking. At 10, she knew the recipe of paprika. Slowly my children began telling me to start work again, as their friends mothers used to tell them about my classes, and signature dishes…it was a collective decision. My husband has been extremely supportive throughout.

Biggest realisation?

There is a time for everything in life

How involved is your husband in their upbringing?

Mahesh is amazing with them. He chips in 100 per cent. I used to cook and feed him literally with my own hands earlier, when I was a housewife. Once I resumed work, I was out of sight till night. Now we catch up during evening walks, eating out at night – we Vaswanis are big foodies (laughs) – watch movies on NetFlix…this ‘us’ time is non-negotiable.

Shilpi Madan for Indian Express

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