Vikhroli Cucina

The perfect love affair with food!

19 June 2015 , 0 comments / 12 likes
Mumbai-based Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal started her food blog at a time when most people weren’t even aware of the term. Today, she writes an eponymous blog and is one of India’s premier food consultants. Find out why she feels it’s easier to become a food blogger today 

Image source: Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal

What made you start a food blog when people didn’t know what blogging was?

My love affair with food began after my marriage when I found myself surfing the web with a lot of time on my hands. As I adapted to being a working wife, I began to pick up the secrets of cooking tasty food with efficiency. After my son was born, I went on a sabbatical from work where I read about food on various groups and participated in online conversations. That’s when I did a little write-up on Pahadi food. After reading it, a friend suggested I start blogging; something I had never heard of before. And that is how I began this journey.

What challenges did you and your contemporaries face?
Oh, so many things! You have to remember that when I started out 15 years ago, food writing or consulting did not exist as a clear occupational choice. Those terms are all new. I had to learn the technical aspects of blogging, posting, increasing SEO, ensuring copyright protection, etc. Initially, writing about food was confined to women’s magazines and that too only recipes were published. As the mainstream media warmed up to food journalism, I began to get more offers to write. However, a lot of times they were limited to restaurant reviews and recipes. And when I did write a good article, I would have to chase them to publish it or worse still, pay me. Another challenge was the lack of quality ingredients, unlike now. Back then, if I wanted anything I would have to pester friends or relatives to obtain it for me. But all these challenges really reinforced my confidence in my vocation. I struggled and learnt from them.

In comparison how easy is it to become a food blogger today? What challenges do bloggers today face?
It is obviously much easier today for someone to become a food blogger. All it takes is half an hour on Wordpress or, a name for the blog and you’re off. From then on, how easy or difficult the journey is depends on the blogger and what he/she wishes to achieve. There are so many aspects of food blogging and there is enough room and more for each individual writer. However, the greatest challenge for food bloggers today is relevance. There will be reader fatigue since so many people are blogging on the same topics, giving out the same recipes and reviewing the same restaurants. In such a scenario, it is crucial to find your own unique voice and to do research and write about ingredients, techniques, trends, history, cuisines from a specific angle. This ‘voice’ comes with a lot of practice. In addition, being tech savvy, skilled with a camera and making yourself stand out from the crowd is essential.

What is your proudest moment as a food blogger?
When my book ‘A Pinch of This, A Handful of That’ won the Best Blogger Book (India) at the World Gourmand Awards. That book is a culmination of my entire culinary inheritance and personal food philosophy and is now validated on a global stage. I remember I was talking to someone on the phone when I saw the email and I just started shrieking, startling the other person.

Tell us what led you to start a food studio and has that changed your focus from blogs?
The A Perfect Bite (APB) Cook Studio is a space dedicated to the love and appreciation for food and cooking. It’s something I wanted to create almost from the very beginning of my food career. Inspired by MasterChef Australia Season 2, Shekhar, my husband began baking breads. During our free time, Shekhar and I would potter around in the kitchen and sit down to these delicious, homemade yet gourmet meals. We would watch MasterChef Australia, envious of the professional, fully stocked kitchens, wishing we would get a chance to cook in such a space. At that time I was also conducting cooking classes in different locations and began to dream of a space dedicated to culinary training; a place where you have the equipment, utensils, ingredients and training to cook a fantastic meal. In December 2011, when Shekhar and I sat dining on his artisanal bread, my pepper mushrooms, fig salad and pasta, with our kids running around, he said, “We make beautiful things together.” At that point, we decided to put all of this passion into doing something together. We wanted to create a space where people can come and learn to cook or prepare meals with their families in an inspiring environment. And after being around for two years, it is still a thrill to see the joy on people’s faces when they learn something new.