I grew up in India and the Middle East. My dad is Indian and my mum is Arabic (she was born in Yemen). I went to high school in Dubai and I had my sights set on two possible careers — aeronautical engineering or cooking.

My dad’s work is involved in the supply of dry goods to restaurants, and I used to sit in the back of a truck and go around to the restaurants with him. Through my dad, I was given insights into the back-of-house operations of restaurants.

Even then, I could see all the hard work that went into them. Also growing up in a Muslim environment, celebrations were centred around food, and it was normal for us to put a huge amount of effort into the food for every gathering and celebration.

To become an aeronautical engineer, I would have had to join the Indian army which my mum was quite against. So, I came to Australia to do my apprenticeship and had a number of different cooking roles, eventually working under Teage Ezard as sous chef at Gingerboy.

I moved to Chin Chin and worked more broadly for Lucas Restaurants at Kong, Kisumé as head chef, and at Hawker Hall as executive chef. During this time, I also spent two years in France.

I am fortunate to have worked with three extraordinary chefs who supported my growth and ambitions. Jonathan Alston at Baby showed me how to be disciplined, respectful, and to treat everyone equally. Joshua Bedell’s [Kisumé] calm leadership taught me how to be a rounded chef who could cook and run a business. Ben Pollard, who I currently work with, encourages and rewards me and allows me to be the version of myself I want to be.

Balancing career with family life is important. When my daughter was born in early 2021, most of the people around me said I couldn’t continue my path as a chef. Determined once again to prove them wrong, my current role as kitchen manager
at Supernormal proves that with the right support — both at work and at home — it
is absolutely possible.

As kitchen manager, I work alongside our head chef and the group executive chef and focus on the administrative side of the kitchen. In a typical day, I work across rosters and recruitment, financial management, training, menu development, and kitchen maintenance, to name a few duties. I am also hands-on in running the daily kitchen operation for lunch and early dinner service.

I am lucky to have access to the finest seasonal produce and I love working with fish — whether it is raw, dried, cooked, or curried — and vegetables. The older I get, the more I respect the soil and how important it is in creating quality produce.

What’s next for me? In the short term, it’s not to stop. I haven’t peaked yet — I have a lot to learn and a lot to give. I know I need to keep pushing forward. I’m keen to showcase more of my culinary skills in the future and to really start defining my own
cooking style. Longer term, I don’t think owning my own restaurant is necessarily the right path for me … it feels too defining and restrictive for now. A cookbook feels
like a more natural expression, so I’d love to write one in the future.