What’s your background? Tell us about chef-ing, writing and which came first?
Before food, I studied economics, but found myself gravitating towards sociology and cultural anthropology. It was a really broad insight into the world of social sciences; the way we interact with one another and the way we build social relationships. It definitely sewed a seed of interest that eventually led me to work in Brazil for an NGO for favela children, as well as with children and young people in Foster Care in east London.
Cooking was something I turned to when I was feeling lost and deflated on both personal and professional levels and it then became my calling.
I’ve been working in the food industry for the past 5 years now, predominantly running Devi’s with street food, supper clubs, events and pop up restaurants, and a few offshoots like writing, consulting and a new podcast. I started writing about 12 years ago for my university student paper. The writing I do now and the podcast, tend to focus on the social and cultural values around food and particularly women. It’s still very important to me go beyond the superficial and be quite exploratory in unpacking the new social mores that we’re quickly rewriting.
Food & Feminism is important to you. Explain what that is and why it’s meaningful.
Third wave feminism really started to gather momentum at the same time I began my career in the food industry. The food world is hugely made up of white, middle class, privileged men (and women) who have a great network of established and accomplished individuals to offer them a leg-up in what still remains a very competitive and expensive industry. I get really frustrated at some of the barriers working in food presents for women like myself, and it draws on many parallels from the intersectional feminism discussion.
Devi’s started as not just an opportunity to sell the food that I wanted to and grant myself some economic freedom through working for myself, but to start aligning myself with other underrepresented women of the food realm. The Food & Feminism podcast serves to have some very real, authentic and transparent conversations with other women who feel like I do; it’s a mouthpiece for us so we can feel confident in being vocal and actually be heard.
You appeared on television as a finalist on My Million Pound Menu, BBC2’s food and business series. How was that experience?
Reality television is a heinous construct and I didn’t enjoy a single second of the experience! I did it for Devi’s.
Your bio mentions Netflix? Tell us more!
My Million Pound Menu is available to watch globally on Netflix and I have received messages from people all over the world, really kind words in support of what I’m doing. It’s strange but lovely.
What can people expect from your classes at the Mansion?
The classes I host at the Mansion are geared towards making Beckenham Place the heart of a developing food and drink scene. I really want to meet more locals, those with a keen curiosity for the things I love. My classes are largely relaxed, fun and social and I’m hoping for regulars and for these to evolve into meet-ups. We have this glorious backdrop and setting, I really want to embrace it.
Why have you chosen Beckenham Place Mansion as a venue to host your classes?
I live across the road from Beckenham Place Mansion and I’ve been coming here since its nearly-knocked-down days. I’m thrilled with the transformation; I’ve seen it literally come back to life. I feel deeply connected to this place, I enjoy each season by coming here. It really affirms my beliefs in the strength of community. I’m really happy living here, my closest coffee shop may be Wild Bean Café at the M&S garage, but with TFC and Little Sri Lanka flanking my home and the park on my doorstep, it’s a genuine pleasure to be a part of it.
Do you have any other exciting plans for this year?
Devi’s will be popping up in and around Peckham this Summer onwards, look out for us!
Allotment Cocktail Class is on Sunday 22nd March, 12-3pm, tickets are £25.
Introduction To Natural Wine is on Thursday 26th March, 7pm-10pm, tickets £25.