Ravinder Bhogal

Posted on 31 October 2020

Ravinder Bhogal is the Founder of London Mayfair restaurant, Jikoni.

Elliot Moss

Welcome to the Jazz Shapers Podcast from Mishcon de Reya.  What you are about to hear was originally broadcast on Jazz FM however the music has been cut or shortened due to rights issues.

Good morning, welcome to Jazz Shapers, it’s me, Elliot Moss here, where the shapers of business join the shapers of Jazz, Soul and Blues. My guest today, I am very pleased to say is Ravinder Bhogal, chef, journalist and founder of Jikoni, a London restaurant celebrating mixed heritage cooking; go look at the menu, were going to be talking about that very shortly.  Born in Kenya to Indian parents where Ravinder’s chaotic extended family would all get involved with meal times.  Ravinder was, as she says, “seduced by food.”  Aged seven, her family moved abruptly to London where she felt alienated; bullied at school for her foreign accent.  Nostalgia for Nairobi led her to spend time with her mother in the sanctuary of the kitchen where she “made peace”, she says with her new nation.  Working as a beauty fashion journalist, Ravinder was encouraged to enter and won a TV cooking competition, Gordon Ramsay’s ‘The F Word’.  TV presenting followed alongside creating her own dishes and food pop-ups but it wasn’t until a food critic said “Stop being a coward.  When will you commit to a space of your own?” that the seed was sown.  In 2016 Ravinder opened Jikoni, meaning ‘kitchen’ in Swahili.  With food inspired by the rich shared culinary heritage flavours and cultures across parts of Asia, the Middle East, East Africa and Britain.  As she says, “At Jikoni we are about pluralism and diversity and truly believe that what makes Britain great is immigration.  Our food is the food of immigrants; people who ache for what they left behind.  When you reconcile this with their new landscape, you are creating a new world cuisine.”  Hello. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Hello.

Elliot Moss

Thank you so much for coming.  It’s lovely to meet you. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Thank you for having me.

Elliot Moss

Lovely to meet you.  Tell me the number one passion.  If you only had one trick that came out the hat, what would come out first?

Ravinder Bhogal

I think it would be the words, journalist.  I mean, food is connected to that anyway, it’s so hard to choose really, you’ve put me on the spot now but you know I’m proud of all the slashes, I am.  You know I am all of those things.  It’s all of those things that make me up really. 

Elliot Moss

And when did the passion for words start?  Do you remember? 

Ravinder Bhogal

I’d always loved words.  When I was growing up, my father was deeply poetic.  He wasn’t really allowed to be poetic, there wasn’t space for men to be poetic back then but he loved our language, Punjabi, and so he introduced us very early on to the great Punjabi poets, people like Shiv Kumar Batalvi and I remember being aged five and sort of reciting and learning these really complex love poems and I think that was when I first fell in love with words but then when I came to this country aged seven I was very, very lonely and you know feeling very alienated, new country, completely different landscape and you know my parents were going through the stresses of, you know, finding or navigating their way through starting over in a new country and I think lonely children are often very empathetic to the needs of adults and you kind of learn to make yourself invisible and the way I felt I could be invisible was just by disappearing to the public library and I just found it incredible for a child with very few resources that you could go to a library and take books home for free, that just blew my mind and I was just an avid reader and I was there every day so I remember there was thing called The Bookwork Club where over six weeks you were set six reading books and I think over six weeks I read like six times that amount because I would just read a book a day, it was what I did and so, yeah, fell in love with words then.

Elliot Moss

So you said you came here and you felt alienated, you felt lonely, which is natural.  Were there any other children in the playground that were like you, that had anything similar in terms of experience?

Ravinder Bhogal

No, there weren’t actually.  I went to a very white school but also the few, you know, children who weren’t white, had been born in this country so they all spoke the same, they all sounded the same and I didn’t and you know I remember being very embarrassed when people sort of corrected how I spoke English because I thought I was very good at English, in Kenya we went to school and you are taught what the call the Queen’s English and your handwriting and academically you know it was tougher in Kenya so when I came here I could already read and write very well, I was already on my twelve times table and you know in my classroom people were still sort of colouring in and writing, you know, dotted things, handwriting in pencil, I was already onto pen but I just found it really deeply embarrassing when, you know, teachers would correct me and sort of ask me to read aloud and then correct my accent and say you have a very lazy way of speaking, you need to speak English correctly and, yeah, that was difficult as if it was some sort of, you know, kind of benevolent act exercising my accent. 

Elliot Moss

It’s really funny, there’s a great irony in this isn’t there of course because if anyone is listening they’ll go well she does speak the Queen’s English, I mean probably better than most people that were born in England, I mean truthfully and having lived in India and having experienced the way that English is taught, it’s often far more proper and far more interesting words and vocabulary and all those other things.  So, first ambition in terms of work, was it also the writing?  Was that where life started for you in terms of earning a buck?

Ravinder Bhogal

I think, yeah, I had always aspired to write even at school, writing short stories and things like that.  I didn’t really know what I wanted to be.  I think that came from not really having role models so my father was an aeronautical engineer, my mother was a housewife and my father came from a very sort of patriarchal culture where I was daughter number four so I was just told, “Well, you’ll just grow up and you’ll get married” and my mother always said to me, “You will learn to cook and you will learn to clean and you will cook for your husband and your children and that is your parameter and you don’t go beyond that” and I had watched my sisters who were much older than me, so my eldest sister is sixteen years older than me, get married aged nineteen and sort of not really fulfil their potential educationally and being the fourth one I suppose I was the one who got away because I just suddenly found myself in England in a very different world with different opportunities and you know, watching television and watching people like Nigella Lawson and Madhur Jaffrey who looked like me and thinking this doesn’t have to be about joining some sort of domestic cult, you know, it doesn’t have to be a drudgery, you can actually do this and get paid to do it and it blew my mind and I think it inspired me very, very early on and especially someone like Nigella because she wasn’t just a cook, she was a writer, she’s really bright, you know her writing I remember saying this to her recently over Twitter because she was very nice about my book and I said, “I remember buying How to Eat.”  I was a shop girl at Selfridges and I saved up some money and I went to the Selfridges book shop and purchased ‘How to Eat’ and I read it on those long train journeys home from Kent to London and it was like someone had opened a window and air and light had just come in and I think that’s how inspiration strikes and I was you know, eighteen years old or whatever but I think that was the first point of inspiration for me that food could be written about so evocatively, so beautifully. 

Elliot Moss

The picture you paint of young woman from Kenya with Indian heritage…

Ravinder Bhogal

Yeah.

Elliot Moss

…and the fact that you were daughter number four and you said the parameters were set.  Breaking through from that you studied Law, I know you didn’t like Law particularly but you went to University, that’s a pretty big thing in the family, I mean you broke the mould.  Have you been breaking the mould ever since?  Is that sort of habitual?  Is it addictive to break the mould?

Ravinder Bhogal

I think I have inherited my grandfather’s genes, he was quite a pioneer, you know, he left India in the 1940s, he as living in provincial Punjab, there was nothing and him and his brother decided to run away, go to Bombay and seek out better opportunities and they landed up in Bombay and the story that my father told me is that they got on a ship because there was work being advertised in Kenya and sailed for something like 26 days at which point they ended up back in Bombay because something had actually gone wrong with the ship and he… I mean I can imagine horrific, you know, starvation, all those kinds of things were going on and his brother said “I’ll never do that again”, yet he a month later, you know, got back on that ship and sailed out and landed up in Mombasa, fell so deeply in love with the kind of really benevolent, alluvial earth, this red earth and just decided to lay down our roots and he was on his own and you know he really struggled from what I have heard, you know, he was tricked in business, he was sold land that was infertile, he made it blossom, he was a real sort of rebel in a way because he just did it, he didn’t care and he beat his own path and I think that spirit is very much alive in me. 

Elliot Moss

That is the immigrant spirit as well, isn’t it?  It is the “I’m going to go and I’m going to see what happens because whatever I’m going to find has got to be better than where I’ve been”, essentially.  Tell me though, the movement from, you start writing, you get you bit of a break with the Gordon Ramsay show which is now thirteen years ago or so, and you are still so young (he quickly adds) before she gives me the ghastly stare.  And then you meet Jay Rayner and you start doing stuff with him.  Tell me a little bit about how he helped you think about cooking seriously. 

Ravinder Bhogal

So I was doing a show for Channel 4 with a terrible title, it was called ‘Food: What Goes in your Basket’ and it was a six part series and I was the sort of roving reporter and I’d go off and I’d go to all parts of the world and talk about the politics of food and then I’d come back and I’d cook in the studio and that’s where Jay would sort of be my co-host and he’s like a mouth on legs, you know, he just loves food and he just one day said to me, “have you ever thought about learning the trade of restaurants and going and working in a restaurant because your food is really good and more people should taste it” and I just took it very, very seriously and he’s surprised even that I took him so seriously but I think when you haven’t had mentors, you are always looking for someone to mentor you, you are always looking for someone to give you advice to sort of show you the way and my self-belief really came from people like that telling me, “you can.”  I never believe it of myself until someone saw it in me or saw that potential in me and told me.  And so I did, I just went and started doing stages and working in people’s restaurants and I found it really tough, really really hard and then at the same time the whole supper club and pop-up scene was taking off and I was offered a takeover for a night run by a chef called Anna Hanson, another wonderful woman and chef, and she just said, “just do this” and I said, “there is no way, I’ve never cooked for more than twenty people” and this was like ninety covers and she said, “no, I believe in you.  You can do it.  Just do it, your food is delicious, you will be able to do it, you’ll get it.  It’s practical, you know, once you are there, you’ll figure it out” and I did it and it was such an electric night and so many incredible people turned up and the response to the food was incredible, you know, everything I put into the food people could taste which was incredible and at that point then there was someone from Selfridges who said, “ooh, well why don’t you come and do a pop-up at Selfridges” and I suddenly felt that I was on this conveyor belt one after the other and I couldn’t quite get off and then in between that I started getting approaches from chefs mainly to do private catering for them so I ended up cooking for people like Bruno Loubet in his home and Bret from the Ledbury who I mean I still can’t believe I cooked for, you know, I did his birthday party and just to get that was incredible and then, yeah, I’d been doing this sort of six week run and there had been a food critic who had been coming to quite a few of my things and she just took me aside and said, “well, when are going to stop being such a coward and find a space of your own?” and it was in that kind of Virginia Woolf-esque mode, you know, and it just that spoke to me and I had been approached six years before by an investor who had said, “let’s do this” and I had spent six years saying no to him and finally I had birthed the idea of Jikoni, my philosophy, the menu, the culture I wanted in my restaurant and I was ready and then I spent two years looking for a site because there were no sites available and I only wanted to open in Marylebone so…

Elliot Moss

Not fussy, at all. 

Ravinder Bhogal

No. 

Elliot Moss

She’s not fussy though, not precise.  Stay with me to find out what happened in the next chapter of this beautifully written book.  I feel like I am reading a book as you speak, you do speak beautifully.  This book about Jikoni and Jikoni is coming up in the next part of Jazz Shapers because Ravinder Bhogal will still be with me telling me all about.  Right now though we are going to hear a taster from the Mishcon Academy Digital Sessions which can be found on all the major podcast platforms as I hope you know.  Mishcon de Reya’s Victoria Pigott and Dr Rebecca Newton, Organisation Psychologist and CEO of Coach Advisor discuss the impact of women in positions of leadership and on boards. 

You can enjoy all our former Jazz Shapers and hear this very programme again with Ravinder by popping Jazz Shapers into your podcast platform of choice.  If you have a smart speaker you can ask it to play Jazz Shapers, they are very obliging now, and there you will find many of our recent shows.  But back to today, it’s Ravinder Bhogal, chef, author and founder of Jikoni, a London restaurant celebrating mixed heritage cooking, that’s what it says here.  Without those people nudging you, without those people giving you the self-belief, do you think we would be here now talking about Jikoni?

Ravinder Bhogal

I don’t, actually I don’t, I think that it did take other people to tell me.  I didn’t have the self-belief, you know…

Elliot Moss

Do you have it now?

Ravinder Bhogal

I have to pinch myself often.  I do, you know, I do and I know what I am capable of but I’m very lucky, I have a very supportive husband who really believes and has enabled a lot of what I do, you know, he just really believes in everything, my vision that I see and he just makes it possible.  I think that’s really, really important.  You know, and then I have just wonderful, a really wonderful team, I mean, I can’t tell you especially in this period of, you know, lockdown and Covid, the dignity and the grace that the team at Jikoni have shown has just been incredible and the belief in what we do as well has just increased if anything and I think I am very lucky to have that and then just the guests that we get in.  You know, I love being in Marylebone, it’s a neighbourhood, it’s a community and we get the same people in over and over again, we’ve made friends with people, you know, I always wanted to open a place where we had lots of regulars where we knew the names of people, where we, you know, knew what their dogs were called, where they would go on holiday and I think that’s allowed us to offer a really kind of bespoke service at Jikoni, we know how people like their gin and tonic fix, we know where they like to sit, what their sort of pet peeves are, what they love, you know all of that and I love that interplay between, you know, us and the people visiting us because that’s just building a community and it is about community spirit and we’ve seen that, we’re so lucky that we’ve seen so much of that over this period where the community really has come out. 

Elliot Moss

And I want to talk about the work that you’ve done, the delivering, I believe there’s meals for NHS and the homeless through the Sikh charity, NishkamSWAT which I will come to in a moment but just on the creation of the restaurant back in 2016 I think it was, what was that like?  I mean you’ve talked about, I think you said something about giving birth to ideas or the next phase?  Creating a restaurant, being in the restaurant business now in Covid is another thing but even pre-Covid, being a restauranteur is a tough gig. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Yeah. 

Elliot Moss

How have you coped?  Before Covid, and then we’ll come to Covid after. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Yeah, it’s been a huge steep learning curve, you know a kind of real baptism of fire, I’m not a businesswoman naturally, you know I’ve had to learn how to read a P&L and do all of that.  I went into it blind really, I went into it learning on the job but what I think has helped me through is I’ve stood by my values.  I’ve known what my values are and I’ve been able to eventually speak about them loudly and proudly and in doing that I’ve managed to attract the kind of people who also believe in those things to come and work with me and that I think has been the making of Jikoni and that took time, that didn’t happen overnight, it’s taken some time to do that but it was really interesting and, you know, being a brown girl, setting up a restaurant with a foreign name, people kind of come in, they think it’s going to be Indian food, even to educate people about what our food is about, to be able to describe what I do is difficult, I can’t say I cook Indian food or Chinese food or Italian food, it’s very, very complex food and it’s very kind of personal to me and my journey and so in a way that was difficult at the beginning but I think three years in, almost four years now, we’ve just turned four, it’s finally getting out there and I think the book as well is really helping push that message, the idea of proudly inauthentic the idea of being an immigrant and how vast and diverse those borders that you cross are, how each one of those borders that you cross impresses upon you some knowledge, some technique, some wisdom, how when you come to a country you are surrounded by mini economies of other immigrants that you shop at, that you eat at, that show you hospitality and how that affects your cuisine, how you learn to adapt as an immigrant, how your recipes are like stories with no endings because you are constantly on the move, things are constantly changing and I think that’s the wonder of creating a new cuisine and I think certainly for me, coming here everything looked and felt so barren, you know I’d come from a place where there were guava trees in the garden like this amazing, colossal, ever blue sky and then suddenly you are in this very haggard, very kind of urban landscape with nothing that smells familiar and everything seems very barren and I think it’s only when you start to settle that you begin to preserve and become very precious about your heritage but start to overlay it with the influence of your new land, whatever that might be and I think lucky me coming to a place like Britain where there is so much diversity, so many stories, so many narratives, so many traditions and I’m able to be like a magpie and take from them all. 

Elliot Moss

The menu itself, to just talk briefly about that, so I like food and I like diversity of food.  Prawn Toast Scotch Egg I scribbled when I was looking and I haven’t been to your restaurant yet but I am coming and I’m definitely doing that, and then under the Sweets which are called Tamu Tamu, which in which language is that?

Ravinder Bhogal

Swahili. 

Elliot Moss

Swahili.  Thank you.  I did pick out, which is what I am having when I come, is the Caramelised Apricot and Orange Blossom Roulade.  These are crazy inventions and I’m going to call them inventions.  Where do they come from?  Is it partly what you’ve experienced from other people?  Is it partly reading?  Is it partly just because? 

Ravinder Bhogal

I think it comes from a lot of things, it comes from travel, it comes from thinking, it comes from you know reading from stories, that inspiration can come from many places.  The Prawn Toast Scotch Egg in particular, I think really sums up what we do because we’ve taken two perennial favourites, everyone knows what a Scotch Egg, a British Scotch Egg, we’ve taken a Chines Prawn Toast and we’ve put them together and we think we’ve created something that’s better than the sum of its parts and I think we’re making quite a political statement there about what happens when cultures come together. 

Elliot Moss

I want to ask you about this.  It feels like you work in the margins between cultures and people often talk about creativity being about where things clash and then they mesh, not just in…

Ravinder Bhogal

That’s where the light is. 

Elliot Moss

That is where the light is as you said, the air and the light that you felt, that is where the light is.  Would you be… are you happy in that place?  Is that the best place for you creatively, whether you are writing or serving someone or creating a new dish?  Is that it for you, that nirvana? 

Ravinder Bhogal

That is for me, I’m fascinated by people’s stories of immigration and travel and adaptation.  We have a dish on the menu currently which there’s a recipe in the book which is inspired by a fascinating documentary I saw some years ago and it’s called the Paneer Gnudi and it’s served with Saag and it was this documentary was about these Italians and how they were on their knees because they couldn’t get the workforce to work on the dairy farms so cheese production was at an all time low, you know, no young people wanted to do those hours for that little margin, all of that.  So they started an immigrant programme where they started getting North Indian farmers from Punjab to come to Italy to work on the dairy farms because they’re known for being experts at dealing with livestock and so these people started, you know, settling there, getting married, having children there and I was just fascinated by that and I thought what does that taste like when those cultures collide, when they integrate, what does that become?  So this dish is like a love letter to those Punjabi immigrants that have settled in Italy because we make paneer which is an Indian fresh cottage cheese and we mix it with parmesan and we make the most impossibly light gnudi which are like pasta without the wrapper to the filling of pasta is made purely of cheese which we boil and then pan fry and then we serve with a saag, a North Indian spinach sauce made with sorrel, British sorrel, spinach, kale, cavolo nero, Italian greens, preserved lemon, pine nuts and lots more parmesan and it is just delicious. 

Elliot Moss

Stay with me to find out more about delicious, crazy dishes, I mean who could have put that together apart from my Business Shaper today, Ravinder Bhogal, the Founder of Jikoni and the author of the book, that you can hear me tapping, and my final chat is coming up with her very shortly plus we will be playing a track from Mr Bobby Womack, that’s in just a moment, don’t go anywhere.

Ravinder Bhogal is my Business Shaper just for a few more minutes and we’ve been talking about all sorts of things, cultures colliding which I love.  I just love the way you express things, it’s obviously lucky because you are a writer.  I want to talk about your values a bit and you mentioned the Covid-19 thing which we are still obviously in the thick of.  I understand that your team cooked a number of meals for the NHS staff and for the homeless, this charity I mentioned, the Sikh charity Nishkam, the South West London branch of it, I looked up something because in my research I like to noodle around and there were these phrases and I thought they were lovely about what underpins the Nishkam ethos, this Kirat Karni, earning an honest living, was one of their pieces and I’m going to say it incorrectly but I’m going to try it anyway, I think it’s Vand Kay Shako, is that right?

Ravinder Bhogal

Yeah. 

Elliot Moss

Good, phew. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Vand Kay Shako.

Elliot Moss

Much nicer and as you know, I’ve got eight words of Hindi and that isn’t Hindi, that’s probably something else, probably.  What is it?  Is that Punjabi?

Ravinder Bhogal

Punjabi yeah. 

Elliot Moss

It is Punjabi, good.  And that’s all about, as I understand it, about giving and about, you know, literally sharing everything you’ve got with people, resources, love, whatever.  Is that ethos a part of you anyway and therefore was it very natural to pivot towards giving food?

Ravinder Bhogal

Yeah, I think, I’m not a staunch Sikh or anything like that but I grew up in a Sikh household and my grandfather was orthodox, turban-wearing Sikh, and he really lived by those values and I think it’s just deeply intrenched in my psyche and, you know, when Covid happened it wasn’t so much, it didn’t feel like, okay I’m doing something for charity, it felt like it was necessary, it felt like it was part of me and even in the way we do our hospitality, I always say to my team, look you have two, two and a half hours with someone, it’s a privilege, you don’t know what someone’s going through in their life and you have a privilege to do something that’s so rare because this business is transformative and you see it instantly, it’s like instant gratification and I see that often particularly in Marylebone you know people can be quite sort of uptight, they come in, they’ve not had a good day and you put good hospitality, good wine and good food in front of them and you see them unfurl and it’s a physical unfurling, you see it happen and that is the joy of what we do and that is the difference between service and hospitality, you know, service is about the technical, we should get that right all of the time, polished cutlery, warm room, you know those things you can do, hospitality is about how you make people feel and that is what I’m interested in and that’s what sort of fires my oven, it’s the idea of transforming people’s days through cooking.  So, yeah with the whole cooking during Covid, actually it wasn’t my team because they couldn’t come in, you know, because I just didn’t want them risking themselves on public transport so it was just me and my husband, we’d drive in and we just felt strongly that we had a perfectly good kitchen that wasn’t in… you know we weren’t able to use it so we should use it to do something good, so initially it happened that a friend of mine is a Doctor at King’s College Hospital and his wife had started this thing called the ‘Wellness Box’ and they were just gathering things like toothpaste and hand cream and things like that so I just called her up and said, “do you think they’d like some hot meals?” and she was like, “wow, well yeah because, you know, they’re just not even eating, they’re not getting the time so that would mean a lot” so we just started going in twice a week and cooking for them and then once they were stable I’d come across the work of NishkamSWAT and I just, you know, really related to their philosophy obviously being brought up in the Sikh faith but just also just they’re such lovely, inspiring people and they have so much impact and it was one man’s dream and everyone told him it was impossible and he just made it happen and they’ve got something like 27 or 30 locations now across the UK, it’s incredible and they do it rain or shine, we’re still cooking for them, they came and picked up I think it was last Friday and it was pouring with rain and they were off to Camden, you know, all very chipper, smiles on their faces and I mean I like having people like that around because it reminds you to do better. 

Elliot Moss

It’s been great talking to you.  Good luck with the new book, it is beautifully designed; I believe your husband may have had a hand in this as you said he helps you bring to life your vision, well he certainly has I think because if that was in your head and it’s a beautiful cover, I urge you to go and have a look at it, it’s called Jikoni Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen and there are some brilliant stories in there, unexpected ones too.  Thank you so much for spending time with me. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Thank you for having me. 

Elliot Moss

Just before I let you go, what’s your song choice and why have you chosen it? 

Ravinder Bhogal

It’s called If I Can’t Have You and it’s by Etta James and Harvey Fuqua, is that how you say it?

Elliot Moss

I think we’ll say that, Fuqua or something. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Fuqua. 

Elliot Moss

Fuqua, there. 

Ravinder Bhogal

Something like that. 

Elliot Moss

We’ll get away with that. 

Ravinder Bhogal

But I love that song, it was played as we walked out after our registry wedding and it’s a very triumphant song and I love it. 

Elliot Moss

That was Etta James and Harvey Fuqua, hope I said that properly, If I Can’t Have You, the song choice of my Business Shaper today, Ravinder Bhogal.  She talked about that moment where life opened up having read Nigella Lawson’s book, the air and the light came in.  She talked about standing by her values and that has stood her in fantastic stead all the way through her various multiple different careers and really importantly she referred to recipes as stories that never end, they just keep changing; a lovely way of thinking about food.  Really good stuff.  That’s it from me and Jazz Shapers, have a fabulous weekend.

We hope you enjoyed that edition of Jazz Shapers, you will find hundreds more guests available for you to listen to in our archive.  To find out more, just search Jazz Shapers in iTunes or your favourite podcast platform or head over to mishcon.com/jazzshapers.

Jikoni was a lifetime ambition for Ravinder, who is an accomplished chef, author and now restaurateur. Growing up in London with a mixed heritage rooted in Kenya, Ravinder is a versatile and sensitive chef whose flavour combinations and subtle use of spices have garnered her much praise amongst her peers.

She has been involved in many TV projects including reporting for Channel 4's magazine 'What Goes in your Basket', BBC2's 'Great British Curry Trail', and has also achieved her own 22 part series 'Ravinder's Kitchen'. Ravinder has also contributed to many publications including GRAZIA, The Sunday Times and ES Magazine.

Her  debut cookery book ‘Cook in Boots’ was published by Harper Collins to rave reviews and was awarded Best Debut Cookbook at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards. Ravinder's second cookbook ‘Jikoni: Proudly Inauthentic Recipes from an Immigrant Kitchen’ was published in July. 

Highlights

I found it deeply embarrassing when teachers would correct me, ask me to read aloud and then correct my accent.

You kind of learn to make yourself invisible.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to be.

You can actually do this and get paid to do it and it blew my mind and I think it inspired me very, very early on (cooking).

It was like someone had opened a window and air and light had just come in and I think that’s how inspiration strikes.

You are always looking for someone to mentor you, you are always looking for someone to give you advice.

Self-belief really came from people telling me, “you can.”

I never believe(d) in myself until someone (else) saw it in me.

I have to pinch myself often. 

I’ve stood by my values.

You learn to adapt as an immigrant.  

Your recipes are like stories with no endings because you are constantly on the move.

I think lucky me coming to a place like Britain where there is so much diversity, so many stories, so many narratives, so many traditions. 

I think we’re making quite a political statement there about what happens when cultures come together. 

I’m fascinated by people’s stories of immigration and travel and adaptation.

You don’t know what someone’s going through in their life.

Hospitality is about how you make people feel. and that is what I’m interested in. That’s what fires my oven.

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