Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji is the Program Head-Culinary Arts at the Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh at the ITM Institute of Hotel Management at Nerul, Navi Mumabi.
Tell us about yourself, your background and what you do currently
I believe that the food that I cook and prepare should not only touch the hearts, but also the souls of the people relishing it.
I am presently working as a Program Head of Culinary Arts, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh at the ITM Institute of Hotel Management at Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
I am also working as a Speciality Chef with Chef Sutra, Percept Knorigin, Cine Curry and Oxygen Infotainment and as a Food Author with Pioneer Chef, Urban Spice, Pinksworth and Tanya Munshi.
I also work as a Hospitality and Food Consultant, Speciality Chef and Food Author at Platter Share.
Also, I am into writing recipes to suit both Desi and Videshi people and articles for various online and offline publications.
In the past, I had worked as an Associate Professor at D.Y. Patil University, School of Hospitality and Tourism Studies, Navi Mumbai. At the D.Y. Patil University and Stadium, I was menu planning and preparing the most delectable and exotic cuisines for the Former Hon. President Of India Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Tai Patil, “The God of Cricket” Mr. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, “The Great Wall of Indian Cricket” Mr. Rahul Dravid and various other dignitaries and eminent personalities.
I intricately prepared cuisine designed to capture a delicious and exciting range of flavours, textures and aromas. I also handled special food preparations for IPL matches, T 20-20, International Cricket Matches at the D.Y. Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai. I have cooked the most delectable cuisines for small to very large numbers.
With 20 years of experience in the world of culinary, I believe that food is like oxygen to me. Food for me is God. As my profession demands cooking and tasting non-vegetarian foods, in spite of being a pure vegetarian, I perform my duties religiously as I understand the cause behind it is holy and noble.
I profoundly believe that food, whether vegetarian or not, if cooked with utmost love and positivity touches the heart of a person relishing it.
I am a complete foodie; love to experiment with foods, innovations and fusions in foods and beverages; passionate about exploring new places and tasting and knowing about different types of cuisines. I totally adore food styling and food photography. I have an insatiable curiosity for new foods and love pairing flavours, foods and ideas from different parts of the world. It feels great to share my knowledge and skills with everyone. Enjoy cooking!
Tell us about any current projects or initiatives you wish to promote
Culinary Concept Development and Production, Food and Communication and Food Culture and Society is a module from the Queen Margaret University, that I am presently taking.
What has been your biggest challenge in achieving your success?
I remember when almost all my relatives were strictly against my joining Hotel Management. The person who stood like pillars were and still are my parents. The myth those days was that this profession is just not apt for girls.
I owe all my success to my God Almighty, Mom, Mrs. Manjit Arora and my Dad , Mr. M.S.Arora, who supported me right from day one.
I am also blessed to have such a supportive and motivating husband, my soulmate Uday Kugaji who supports, encourages and motivates me in my growth and success.
What has been your greatest achievement personally?
I am privileged to be both a chef and a mentor.
If I have to say what my biggest achievements are, it would be shaping the careers and motivating thousands of students, especially the budding chefs of tomorrow, and mentoring them. I am blessed to see my students excel in their careers, and they hold immense respect, gratitude and love for me.
My accomplishments are to see and witness my students grow in their careers and to be well renowned is a pat on my back and I feel extremely proud of that. As a mentor to them, I ensure that this quality of being extremely humble and to be proud of your roots is inculcated in my students, as I want them to be good humble humans first and then chefs.
The noble profession that I am in inspires me to give my best to the budding chefs of tomorrow. I feel that I am indeed privileged and blessed to mentor so many students and the brightness of their success in their eyes and also of their parents, keeps inspiring me.
• Best food photographer of the month, April’2015 – Fruit Jellies – Food Photography Group on Facebook.
• Winner of the Healthy Recipe Contest for Grilled Chicken, Strawberry and Spinach Salad with Roasted Poppy Seed Dressing on Better Butter in August ‘2015.
• September 2015, winner of the Best Food Story Contest, ‘My culinary journey to Istanbul’ on Plattershare and winner for the best food photographer of the month at Affimity.
• Wild Card Winner in Your Best Dinner Party Recipe Contest – Murgh Gilafi Seekh Kebab at www.betterbutter.in in October ‘2015.
• Winner in the fourth week of Platter Share’s Best Recipe in the Weekly Recipe Contest from 21st September, 2015 to 18th October, 2015 for ‘Crispy Risotto Bites with Marinara Sauce.’
• Winner of Platter Share’s weekly recipe contest with highest votes with Khubani Ka Meetha with Paan Shots.
• Special Appreciation by Celebrity Chef Nita Mehta- “A Special appreciation to Reetu Uday Kugaji as her recipes are very innovative. Good work done”.
• Wildcard Winner in Diwali Delight Contest – Palak Karanji at www.betterbutter.in in November‘2015
• Article Published on ART ON A PLATTER
• Second Prize Winner, KitchenAid India Diwali Giveaway, for my recipe of Angoori Rabri
• Interview published at Platter Share 7th December 2015.
• Winner of the Flavours of the World contest with Chicken Karaage with Wasabi Mayonnaise
• Winner of the Holiday Recipe Contest at Indian Simmer
• Recipes published in the Fab Living Magazine, a décor magazine by fabfurnish.com
• Interview published at www.goyano.com on 7th March 2016
• Interview published at www.indiansimmer.com on 18th March 2016
• Interview published in the magazine, Better KITCHEN in the March-April 2016 issue which features Women Power, Ability and Multi-tasking.
• Winner of the campaign, Woman At Work, published May 2016
If you weren’t doing what you do now, what would you be doing?
Definitely, I am a chef and being a mentor is my passion, but if it wasn’t that I would have been a professional photographer.
Who has been your biggest inspiration?
My role model is Satish Arora, a chef extraordinaire who has always been a constant source of inspiration for me. He has made our nation proud – a big obeisance to him.
My mother, Mrs. Manjit Arora has also been a source of inspiration. She is a fantastic and an ardent cook. She always tries to cook something out of the box. She has not only motivated me but has also encouraged and mentored me to do something unusual with food and so I started experimenting.
The noble profession that I am in inspires me to give my best to the budding chefs of tomorrow. I feel that I am privileged and blessed to mentor so many students and the brightness of their success in their eyes and also of their parents, keeps on inspiring me.
What does the future hold for you?
The future is unknown but I indeed wish to be doing a lot of research on the Lost Recipes of India.
I am so proud to be an Indian, with its rich food, culture and heritage. As a chef and mentor we owe it to the generations coming in to bring back the Lost Recipes of India.
About Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji –
I am Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji. I was born in Chandigarh and brought up in Mumbai. As a child I grew up seeing my mother cook the most delectable cuisines for the entire family. That gave me the first kick in my mind that food is such an interesting and enormous art. I guess that I have got it through my genes.
I am presently working as a Program Head – Culinary Arts – Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh at the ITM Institute of Hotel Management at Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
My mantra is that ‘the only ingredient required for cooking is “Passion”.
I have 20 years of experience in the world of culinary. The best creative cooking ideas pop up in my brain making it my favourite place. My kitchen is my kingdom.
My students are my kids. They are so full of spirit and enthusiasm for learning new dishes and cuisines and they always keep me on my toes. I would say all of us learn from each other every single minute and second. Their ideas are just mesmerizing and motivate me to share and gain more knowledge.
My Educational Qualifications are as mentioned below:
- 2012 – Masters in Human Resources Development & Management from Sikkim Manipal University, Directorate of Distance Education – Gangtok.
- 2011- Awarded Certificate “Diploma in Chocolate Making” from Callebaut Chocolate Academy, Mumbai.
- Level-I Introduction to Chocolates 27th April 2011
Level-II All About Chocolates 28th and 29th April 2011
Level-III Chocolates Beyond Basics and Expertise.14th and 15th November 2011
- 2008 – M.T.M (Masters of Tourism Management) from Madurai Kamaraj University, Directorate of Distance Education, Madurai, Tamil Nadu.
- 2006 – B.A (Bachelor of Arts) from Mumbai University.
- 2001 – Diploma in Personnel Management from Wellingkars Institute of Management, Mumbai.
- 1997 – Three Year Diploma in Hotel Management and Catering Technology from Dr .D.Y. Patil Institute of Hotel Management and Catering Technology, D.Y.Patil University, Nerul, Navi Mumbai.
I have trained extensively at The Leela Kempinski, The Ambassadors Sky Chef and The Trident, Mumbai in the Food Production Department.
My readers may get in touch with me at : [email protected]
Contacting Chef Reetu Uday Kugaji –
My Recipes on YouTube: Eat Drink and More
- Kadha Prasad
- Paan Shots
- Anar Raita
- Murgh Methi Malai Kabab
- Khubani Ka Meetha
- Chicken Spinach Salad
- Beer Battered Fried Fish
- How to make sour curd sweet?
- How to keep the salad fresh?
- How to keep Spinach Fresh?
- How to peel Almonds?
Would like to conclude with the Divine blessings of Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba “Only a Great Teacher can mould a Great Student”.