From being a food content creator to a chef and to launching her own ice cream brand, Chef Saloni Kukreja’s journey has been long and inspiring. Thanks to her love for food, Chef Saloni is one of the most popular Instagram influencers and a renowned name in the culinary sector.
If you have the ability, you should take the LEAD, says Chef Saloni Kukreja. Saloni dreamt of being in a cooking school when she was 14. Years later, not only did she go to Northwest Culinary Academy in Vancouver and become a successful chef but also a content creator and an entrepreneur. Right from sharing some amazing recipes to inspiring a million people out there, she has worked really hard to reach where she is. This is what perseverance and hardwork looks like.
Chef Saloni loves baking even more than cooking. She loves playing around with ingredients and this same passion, made her start her own ice-cream brand ‘Indu Ice-cream'. In an exclusive conversation with Slurrp, Chef Saloni discussed about her journey of becoming a social media influencer, a chef and an entrepreneur.
You are a chef, content creator, food consultant and an entrepreneur. How would you describe your journey so far?
This entire journey has been quite a roller coaster for me. I always wanted to be in the food space even when I was younger. I have always wanted to go to a cooking school since I was 14 but I didn’t get an opportunity that time. A few years later I tried again but it didn’t happen. It was when I started content creation because I knew that I wanted to. My parents wanted me to get a proper degree, so I did that, but I always wanted to do something related to food. I didn’t really cook as much earlier and I also didn't have much experience in cooking other than little baking. I used to work around things like food events, about places to eat and food trends.
Then, I wanted to be in the kitchen and learn some skills. It was then I decided to be a chef. I went to Northwest Culinary Academy in Vancouver and studied Cuisine and Pastry. Then, I got back to Bombay and again started creating content. Now, I am working on building my own brand.
What is your forte?
I would say I bake breads really well. I enjoy cooking but not as much as I enjoy baking. I am into rustic baking and bread is something I am pretty good at. I have worked and got trained in cuisine as well, but baking is what excites me the most.
Social Media trends change so fast. How do you cope up with those changes?
When I started in 2013, Instagram was only a photo-based platform and back then, it was more traditional blogs that people wrote about food, trends, recipes etc. Over the years, it grew to video content and short form video content which changed the game completely. Adapting was like the only way to go. And it's not about completely switching but one must stay true to what he or she likes doing otherwise the content is not going to be authentic. But I feel adapting to different forms of content is essential. Since social media trends change so fast, adapting is very important.
Which food brings back your childhood memories and which is your utmost comfort food?
Talking about childhood memories, I would say ice-cream and that’s why I decided to launch an ice-cream brand. Every Sunday, my family used to go for a drive and go to a local ice-cream place. There, I used to have one ice-cream flavour every time I.e., Malai ice-cream. I also loved eating seasonal fruit ice creams.
My comfort food would be Kadhi and rice. Since, I am a Sindhi, I can have Sindhi Kadhi and chawal anytime.
There are quite a lot of cocktail recipes on your social media handle. What excites you about cocktails?
I think mixology and baking are very closely knit. I really enjoy making cocktails. I didn’t know too much about it but when I started to learn about flavour pairing, I found it very similar to using baking ingredients. It is a whole other world when compared to cooking and baking, but I just really enjoy the fact that it is a clean base, and you can pair so many different fun flavours. Each alcohol has its own properties. For example, there are so many variations and flavours of gin, and it is really fun to play around with that. My favourite is gin and my go to order is gin soda. I like flavouring it up. One time I tried infusing mogra and gin soda and it turned out to be great.
What made you launch your own ice-cream brand 'Indu-Ice Cream'?
My fondest childhood memories are associated with enjoying ice cream, and it was always there on my mind. Then, when I tried gelato for the first time in Europe, I really loved it. Those small memories played a key factor. Besides, the texture and flavour game of ice creams excited me the most. I always had an interest in ice cream, and this was the first thing that came to my mind for my business idea. Though one needs few basic ingredients but when you change that around, you can create something really different just like baking. Using that knowledge, I came up with my own ice cream brand.
I love using local ingredients and India is a country so diverse as there are many ingredients that we don’t even know exist. I always wanted to use this as a platform and spread word about local produce and use them in the ice cream. Ice cream is a great base to collaborate with chocolate, coffee and what not. Among the many unique flavours, we have a ‘filter coffee’ flavour and this is loved by many.
What message would you like to give to other aspiring chefs who are struggling to gain success?
If you have the ability, you should take the lead. I wanted to do this for so long, but I was so reserved. There are so many excuses you can come up with to delay things. But after a point you have to be like 'let’s just do it' and start doing it. You need to start somewhere, and the improvements will happen. Go for it and go with the flow!