They pursue 12-hour work shifts, yet manage to look good. Five female chefs give us a peek into their wardrobes and decode their working-gal style
Female chefs heading kitchens at city restaurants is a rare sight. And then there is this elusive group that aces it with culinary innovations, and knows how to put their best foot forward when not dressed in their chef's whites. Be it for a bestie's birthday party post work or a red carpet event that honours their contribution to the food industry, these female bosses bring their A-game, both inside and outside the kitchen. Check out how chefs Pooja Dhingra, Sarah Todd, Amninder Sandhu, Husna Jumani and Monaz Irani stay fashionable always.
Husna Jumani, pastry chef, The Clearing House
I have always lived in Bandra and the vibe here is so casual that I mostly see people walk around in their gym clothes. But I remember this one occasion when I landed up at a party in my sweatpants as I just didn't find the time to change! That's when I decided to plan my wardrobe for my night-outs after work, and I started applying basic make-up to look presentable," reveals Husna Jumani, 25, the pastry chef at SoBo's The Clearing House. While the chef prefers high-street brands for her basics, she loves browsing through the racks in small boutiques in Bandra. "I often shop at small stores such as Cherry Fig and Fusspot in Bandra. They stock everything from footwear, bags and clothes, so you save time. Plus they stock individual pieces which you won't see elsewhere in the city," Jumani says.
Fashion tip: Look for small boutiques
Amninder Sandhu, executive chef, Arth
The only impulse shopping that chef Amninder Sandhu indulges in is for knives. For her wardrobe, the chef prefers sticking to staples and opts for a colour palette of blue, grey, white and black. The big spends of her wardrobe are dedicated to watches. "I don't have much time to shop outdoors now, so I often do it online. If I have the time to dress up, I go all out. But one trick I often use is keeping multiple pairs of shoes in my car, so even if I am in a plain black tee, I put on bright lipstick, change into heels, and I am presentable enough to hit a party," Sandhu shares.
Fashion tip: Shoes make a difference
Sarah Todd, partner-head chef, The Wine Rack and Antares
While most chefs love black and white, Sarah Todd likes to mix things up. "I love going all out sometimes with a pop of colour and print tops, and then there are weeks when I wear the same black dress five days in a row. But focus on building your staples — a good denim and a leather jacket, blazers, T-shirts and a good pair of denims. Spend on these staples; they are investments!" says the Australian chef, who often lives out of a suitcase. "I always travel with a pair of nude pointed pumps. It goes with almost everything, from business meetings in the day to fun party dresses in the evening," she says.
Fashion tip: Invest in staples
Pooja Dhingra, founder, Le 15 Patiserrie and Café
She is known as the macaron queen of India; she's also the person actor Sonam K Ahuja trusted for her wedding cake; and just when you thought chef Pooja Dhingra was all about desserts, she opened Colaba's Le 15 Café. But all of these roles demand Dhingra to be in her kitchens through the day. "My comfort is my priority, so at work, you will see me in jeans and a shirt or my chef coat. But I have a lot of friends in fashion who try and do different things. So this year, I have made it a goal to wear dresses more often," she says. Dhingra usually prefers to dress in black, grey and dark blue, but loves to layer her outfits with jackets, blazers and shrugs. The thumb rule she follows is to cleanse her wardrobe every six months, and donate clothes she hasn't touched in that duration to charity. Call it the Marie Kondo effect, but Dhingra loves the Japanese art of de-cluttering.
Fashion tip: Cleanse your wardrobe
Monaz Irani, co-founder and chef, Plate & Pint
Yes, you need to be comfortable in what you wear, but you also need to be presentable. I am in the kitchen all day, but I also need to interact with guests at the restaurant. So for work, I stick to a black T-shirt and jeans, which don't look dirty, however messy it gets in the kitchen," says chef Monaz Irani. Irani spends her entire day at her restaurant, and when it comes to heading to parties post work, she says she is usually the last one to reach because of her schedule. So, on days when she knows that she needs to head out, she plans her outfit in advance. "Once you know what you want to wear [at the start of the day] keep it ready for the night. I stick to basic make-up, as I don't like to spend more than 15 minutes to take a shower, get dressed and head out," says the 24-year-old chef.
Fashion tip: Plan your outfits in advance
Catch up on all the latest Mumbai news, crime news, current affairs, and also a complete guide on Mumbai from food to things to do and events across the city here. Also download the new mid-day Android and iOS apps to get latest updates
A walk through Mohammed Ali Road's Khau Galli