One of the things I love about my job is the ability to meet and talk to other people working in the food arena.
This week I attended a Grazia Magazine event held in conjunction with Google UK #GraziaGoogle. Aptly titled, the event was called The Future of Food, hosted by Nishma Robb the Head of Marketing at Google who also chairs one of the biggest female communities to discuss issues important to women - women@GoogleUK. Nishma had the kind of voice you could listen to all day long so it pleased me no end to hear how passionately she talked about helping women come to the forefront of the technology business she is in.
The Grazia and Google event brought together a panel of ladies who have all made their mark on food in this new digital world we all live in. Much like my Hari Ghotra brand they have all in their own way brought their passion for food and cooking to the forefront using digital media to help others.
It was hosted by Sky TV presenter Sarah-Jane Mee who kept the conversation moving and relevant. The panelists included Madeleine Shaw, Uyen Luu and Romina from the Chaippa sisters who are three very successful cooks that have managed to use digital media really successfully and get out to audiences who crave the food they deliver.
It was great to see the radiant Madeleine Shaw again, lucky for me I've had the pleasure of cooking with her in the past. She is a nutritional health coach, yoga teacher, and food lover and amazingly she has just launched her second book - Ready Steady Glow.
Madeleine is passionate about giving your body (and mind) what it needs to flourish and found her calling when she went to Australia. For her, digital media has allowed her to connect with others who want to feel better about themselves through her website, her app and being very active on social media. Being a trained nutritionist she creates balanced dishes, helps to introduce new high-energy ingredients into your diet and just inspires a better you.
The very down to earth Uyen is a chef, food writer and food stylist specialising in wonderful fresh Vietnamese cuisine and author of My Vietnamese Kitchen. Uyen Also contributes to food tube and is all about creating dishes that are packed with eastern flavours in a quick and easy way. With a very strong social following, she was one of the early adopters of Instagram and with photography being a key part of what she does she is known for her wonderful food images as well as her amazing supperclubs.
The wonderfully chatty Romina is one of the three Chiappa sisters who grew up in the gorgeous green valleys of Wales (yes, I love Wales). The sisters who are half Italian and half Welsh grew up in a home where 'la travola' or the dining table was the heart of the home. Because I felt such a synergy to this coming from an Indian home she had my attention straight away. Romina and her sisters love home cooking, creating meals from scratch, bold flavours and the odd glass of wine - sound familiar? The worry that they would lose the North Italian flavours from their childhood led them to their first book and TV show 'Simply Italian'. This lady leads a busy life, working all week then dedicating her weekends to their you.tube channel (which takes some work I can tell you).
The conversation concentrated on how people's interaction with food has changed over the last few years. How many of us take pictures of our food before we eat it? How many post these on Facebook? Foodie shots on Instagram are big and there are now hundreds of Apps we can download to help us plan meals and find recipes. Social media is playing more and more of a role in how we interact with food, which restaurants we go to and the ingredients we buy. So it's pretty fair to say that technology is impacting how we view food in every aspect.
I found the evening enlightening because I myself have been on (and still am on) a very similar journey to these ladies through building the Hari Ghotra brand and focussing on the Indian food segment.
Just as these ladies had their reasons for delving into the cuisine from their heritage or passion, my motivation to veer into the digital world was all about recognising that people loved Indian food (triggered by the overwhelming attitude towards my cookery classes) and through understanding what they wanted to learn about when it came to Indian food, it was obvious what I had to do.
It was a wonderful opportunity to talk to lots of women who have worked really hard in an area they love and have cleverly navigated their way around the digital tools available to them to create something amazing, so well done #GraziaGoogle!
I came out feeling inspired and stronger to continue on in my own personal journey with my brand and to keep making great Indian food accessible to those who love it as much as I do.
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