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Bindi Bottoms
Nandini Diwakar Chef, Lucknow

"My parents iron clothes to run the household. Flights, expensive cars and five-star hotels were never a part of our lives. The first time I took a flight, sat in an Audi, and stepped into a five star hotel, were all possible because of my love for food.

We are five sisters but our marriages were never a priority for my father. He chose to focus on our education. He even had to fight with his own family, especially our grandfather. His struggle and determination to educate us resulted in our eventual success. One of my elder sisters is a teacher, another one is an assistant manager in a bank, the third one is an advocate, I’m a chef and the youngest one is pursuing a PhD.

Whenever I tried something new in the kitchen, I would hear, ‘What madness is this? Either you spend all your time in front of the TV or on your phone or you are constantly in the kitchen.’ I wouldn’t reply though, because I knew in my heart that my madness would be rewarded with success.

Last August, I chanced upon a cooking contest, organized by an international airlines and a five-star hotel. I registered for the competition and sent them 13 original recipes. Imagine my utter shock when I found out that I had been selected for the finals!

The finals were held in a five-star hotel located in Gurgaon. This gave me the opportunity to fly in an international airline for the first time. But the highlight of the evening for me was the chance to meet my idol, chef Kunal Kapoor.

I won the competition and my dish ‘Murg noor-e-bahar with mava pulav’ was selected to be served in an international airline. I really feel that this journey has taken me from my earthly kitchen to the sky. Winning the competition inspired me and gave me the confidence to write my own cookbook.

My life has changed completely over the past year. I am recognized for my work by people everywhere. Now, I want to open a restaurant, where I can serve something different from traditional cuisines. I would like to create a new menu, which will reflect my creativity. "


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