Meet Nirali Desai, A Chef Who Is Trying To Bring Europe To India Through Her Venture “CakeAReuni”.

28 July 2017


Chef Nirali Desai woc

Women have outshined in each sphere whether it is any dimension, any field. One such dynamics is with hospitality. In our country, India, hospitality is considered male oriented. Many girls have been told not to pursue a career in hospitality just because of the working hours and shifts.

However, things are changing slowly and steadily. And the changes are for good. In our today’s story, we have a woman, who achieved her dream and is living by it. Meet Chef Nirali Desai who is a self-made woman and strong personality in all her substances.

Having studied Patisserie from Le Cordon Bleu, London, she achieved her aspiration of becoming a chef and having her own café.

Girls in childhood have various pastimes. Playing those games somehow every girl grew. Nirali’s favourite pastime was playing “Kitchen Kitchen “and “Hotel Hotel” with her friends and dolls. And today, she runs her own kitchen business called CakeAReuni.

Coming from a business family she knew from the beginning that she wants to run her own business and not work for somebody. However, her chosen field, hospitality business was new for all of the family members.

So,  after learning all about patisserie in London she came back home, to Mumbai and worked at Novotel, Petite Plaisir Patisserie and La Folie for two years and gained the experience and honed her skills that she needed to start her own business.

When Nirali was working at Novotel, she was the only girl in the team of 12 chefs. All of them were working 16 hours a day, six days a week.

Chef Nirali Desai inside article1 woc

“Everybody expected me to quit within a week, but I stuck it out with them and did not give up and today they respect me for it,” she states.

CakeAReuni is a European themed café and Patisserie in Chandigarh. They try to bring Europe to India via their bread, sandwiches, cakes and desserts. Another different thing about CakeAReuni is that all the chefs are girls.

“Hospitality industry is male dominated. It is difficult for girls to get into this industry because of the long odd working hours and back breaking work. And CakeAReuni helps get more female chefs to work and grow in an environment, which is safer and more women friendly,” says Nirali with a smile.

Like every business, Nirali did face challenges in her way. Her initial days were a struggle because they had a very small place that they were running out of. They had to train the new staff.

Another problem that Nirali faced was material procurement. Since their products are European inspired, not all ingredients were easily available and they had to search a lot for their suppliers.

Being a wife, daughter-in-law and a chef, Nirali manages her work life and home life very accurately. Ms Desai has a supportive family which helps her with the work and life balance. Everyone at her home are busy with their respective work the entire day, they make sure that they have their dinner together every day however late it is.

“And there is always dessert to share at the end of the day,” she says with a grin.

The quote by Richard Branson works as a life mantra for her. “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

Nirali with her team - inside article

Nirali’s future goals are very clear and firm. She wants to have her cafes all over India and train as many girl chefs as she can have equality at the workplace. She wishes to promote girl chefs so that the Hospitality Industry doesn’t remain a male dominant anymore.

On asking her about the best memory of her life, she said, “The day we sold 500 cakes. Although it seems small now, it was a major milestone for us back then.”

Nirali is a strong woman with belief and faith in her. “You gain strength from failures. Never let the expectations of your gender stop you,” she has learned from her life.

She has a beautiful message for everyone out there: “Don’t give up on your dreams. Work hard and one day you will be rewarded. Whatever you have learned, at whatever stage in life, will be useful.”

Nirali Desai is a Woman of Courage because she is successfully hacking into a male dominated profession and helping a lot of other girls do the same.

Team WOC wishes Chef Nirali all the great luck for all her future endeavours and thanks her for sharing her story which will surely be an inspiration for others.


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