By Shilpi Madan
Celebrity chef and television show host Rakhee Vaswani believes in prioritising her kids.
From a home cook to a celebrated chef running her own successful culinary academy (certified by Le Cordon Bleu), Rakhee Vaswani has proved that motherhood goes hand in hand with making magic with her career trajectory. Mommy to Aneeshaa,22, and Akhil, 19, Rakhee has celebs including Malaika Arora, Mini Mathur, Mandira Bedi and Shaheen Abbas lining up to perfect their chops in the kitchen under her expert hands. The desi Nigella Lawson has a food show Rewind with Rakhee, bestseller Picky Eaters, and workshops and classes at her Palate Culinary Studio. Yet she stays knitted to her brood.
Excerpts from a conversation:
Have you ever taken a break on the career front?
Of course! I used to work when my daughter was one year old. I had started cookery classes from home. I worked through my second pregnancy and then again after a maternity break started when my son was young. We were experiencing a financial crunch at that point in time. Fortunately the situation eased up and by the time the kids were 6-7 years of age, I was able to take a break from work for 10 years. The guilt pangs of a working mom were beginning to kill me, honestly. Even though Aneeshaa and Akhil were with nani and dadi, I felt they needed me around; to drop off and pick up from birthday parties, spend time with them…After conducting my classes, I had no energy left. So my kids were getting neglected.
So you elected to be a full time mother…
I always wanted to be around my kids, wanted to be a hands-on mother. More so as my mother had always been working as she did not have a choice. Though that did make me grow up strong and independent, but when I had the choice, I put work on the backburner to give them my undivided attention.
Ten years off from work and never a niggling regret?
No. None, at all. I enjoyed being with my children, creating indelible memories, baking for them, making special meals, cook offs with them and their friends…My daughter used to take a keen interest in cooking. At 10, she knew the recipe of paprika. Slowly my children began telling me to start work again, as their friends mothers used to tell them about my classes, and signature dishes…it was a collective decision. My husband has been extremely supportive throughout.
There is a time for everything in life
How involved is your husband in their upbringing?
Mahesh is amazing with them. He chips in 100 per cent. I used to cook and feed him literally with my own hands earlier, when I was a housewife. Once I resumed work, I was out of sight till night. Now we catch up during evening walks, eating out at night – we Vaswanis are big foodies (laughs) – watch movies on NetFlix…this ‘us’ time is non-negotiable.
To be fair, you have taken time off work to be with your kids even now when they have needed you.
Yes, absolutely, even now that they are grown up. I left my work in the thick of things to go to the US to settle my daughter at the university, helped her organise her apartment…made butter chicken gravy and rotis and froze them for my son when he was in the UK to study. I love doing this. My kids are my priority.
The frequent hugs and kisses!
Shopping, and experimenting with make-up has taken over. Aneeshaa is an ace at make-up and is carving her career in the field.
What do the four of you do together?
Play Uno, monopoly…(laughs) I am the biggest ‘bania’ in monopoly. In fact, since all of us are so busy, Mahesh very particular about taking frequent breaks together. We took off for a couple of days to an adventure park near Mumbai recently.
How has life changed?
Well, I don’t have to (mercifully) look into homework, tuition, classes; they are older. Now there are other things to worry about.
A piece of advice for other moms?
Believe in yourself. Never let go of your dreams. Look at me, I had never thought I would be heading my own, certified, culinary academy some day, have my own telly show, be an author. Strike a balance between family and work, and always remember that special moments with family are warm memories, forever.