Meet The SHEROES: A QnA With Chetna Makan

Last updated 17 May 2016 . 5 min read

Chetna Makan , trained fashion designer and passionate cook was the semi-finalist on BBC One’s Great British Bake Off 2014. Her first book ‘The Cardamom Trail‘ was released in the UK on 21st April 2016 and in USA on 3rd May 2016. She tells us about her career journey today!

Tell us about your past work experiences, life, education, childhood...

I was born and brought up in Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. I then moved to Mumbai to study fashion which I thoroughly enjoyed. After my studies I continued to stay in Mumbai and work in the fashion industry. I worked as a kids wear designer first before moving to mens wear and then finally womens wear. I also worked as a fashion stylist for popular magazines. In the end I started my own label 'Chetna Makan' which was sold in a few stores in Mumbai. In 2004 I moved to the UK with my husband. 

How and why did you venture into cooking / baking? Can you tell us how baking acts as the best creative outlet for you!?

I have always enjoyed cooking. I grew up watching my mum cook, and she has always inspired me to cook at home. When I was at school we used to make birthday cakes at home for us 3 sisters. After I moved to England and had kids, I wanted to make their birthday cakes at home too, which started my passion for baking and I started making cakes for friends as well. I found the whole process of trying new recipes and new methods very creative. 

Can you share the story behind your upcoming book - ‘The Cardamom Trail‘ - what inspired you to write this book? What is it about?

'The Cardamom Trail' started after I took part in 'The Great British Bake off' where I got a chance to experiment with flavours and combining the Indian spices into the bakes. I wanted to write a book which is unique and offers a new look at the bakes and recipes. My inspiration came from Indian food and lot of which were things that my mum cooked when we were growing up. Every recipe tells a little story why I chose it and what memories it stores for me making it interesting for the reader as well. 

Where do you hope to see yourself professionally in the next few years?

I started a youtube channel called 'Food with Chetna' last year where I share a new recipe every week. I hope to inspire people to try some Indian food and some delicious baking at home through the channel. In the next few years I am hoping to continue to share my passion for cooking and baking through the channel and also hope to do more food writing and share more recipes with the readers. I would love to write more books in the future and continue to offer something new and unique to the cooks at home. 

You spent most of your life in Mumbai and moved to Kent 10 years ago: what are the biggest challenges / difference in life and lifestyle between the two places you've lived in?

Before moving to the UK I was lucky enough to travel through work which gave me a good enough idea of what to expect. But the move to Kent took a bit getting used to as I moved to a really small town which was very quite with a slow pace of life, very unlike Mumbai. I missed the hustle and bustle of Mumbai streets, all the lovely food and off course my family and friends. But being an optimistic person I took it as a challenge and soon found myself a little job and made friends. Now this place to me is home. 

What is a typical 'day at work' like for you?

My day involves writing recipes or some days trying and testing recipes. On other days I am filming for my youtube channel. Or out meeting and talking to people about my book. So every single day at work is doing something different and exciting, all to do with food. 

What thoughts would you like to leave our readers with? 

These days we are all running around with very busy lives and I think it is important to enjoy a little time to look after yourself and food is a very important part of that. So try and take out time to cook things from scratch and experiment with flavours. I find baking with kids extremely rewarding and it is always quality time spend together. You can check out my youtube channel 'Food with Chetna' and my book 'The Cardamom Trail' for lots of recipe inspiration. 

Chetna author image
SHEROES - lives and stories of women we are and we want to be. Connecting the dots. Moving the needle. Also world's largest community of women, based out of India. Meet us at @SHEROESIndia

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