Have you ever wondered that although Indian kitchens are always handled by women, when it comes to restaurant kitchens, male chefs are more in the limelight? Well, that’s the irony around the world. However, things have changed over the years in our country for the better. Breaking the stereotypes, women are no more just in the kitchen of their own homes but are, in fact, ruling the hospitality industry shoulder-to-shoulder with men. 

Not just chefs, women can also be seen leading the way in bartending, even as restaurateurs. In a male-dominated industry where far fewer women get the opportunity to rise to the top of the game, some women are breaking the glass ceiling. This ceiling exists for several reasons, but especially because women tend to get rare networking opportunities, as they struggle to keep up a work-life balance after those long and unrelenting hours at work. 

Nevertheless, as we gear up to celebrate the 76th Independence Day this year, here’s a look at five Indian female restaurateurs, who are upping the game in the male-dominated industry. 

1. Anahita Dhondy

Coming from a family of Parsis settled in Delhi, Anahita Dhondy’s world revolves around food since childhood. Taking inspiration from her mother, who used to cook and catered Parsi food, she started helping in the kitchen when she was 10 years old and knew exactly how she would become a chef when she grew up. No wonder at the age of 23, Anahita was already the chef manager at the popular Parsi restaurant SodaBottleOpenerWala in Delhi. She is now a cookbook author and is nailing Parsi flavours on her IG feed. 

2. Ritu Dalmia 

One of the most famous women restaurant owners, Ritu Dalmia doesn’t need an introduction anymore. With over seven Italian restaurants under her, Ritu has created a niche for herself across major Indian cities. Diva, her Italian restaurant in Delhi, which she opened in the year 2000 made her a popular name in the industry, and since then there has been no looking back. An Indian celebrity chef and a restaurateur,  Ritu had started cooking since her childhood, and confesses that she has only learnt from her travels.   

3. Ambika Seth

Co-founder of Culinary Arts and Research Academy (CAARA) - an umbrella company for a catering service, a farm and restaurants - Ambika Seth spent a decade working abroad before coming back to India and starting a farm for chemical-free produce. She also had made a mark for her chain of CAARA Café, which takes forward their ethos for preservative-free, fresh food. 

4. Puja Sahu And Vivita Relan

This duo - Puja Sahu and Vivita Relan - who started a small restaurant in Delhi cultural and lifestyle hub Shahpur Jat, have made into a full-grown chain of restaurants specialising in BIhari food. The Potbelly Café is Delhi’s first ever Bihari restaurant, and now has several outlets across the city. Their idea transcended the regional and cultural stereotypes, and introduced the north Indian foodies to a whole lot of mouth-watering delicacies with a great ambiance and excellent rooftop experience. 

5. Vanshika Bhatia

One of the youngest chefs but a brightest one too, Vanshika Bhatia has worked under some of the most popular chefs including Sujan Sarkar, Gaggan Anand and more. Her new restaurant -Together At 12th at Le Meridien in Gurgaon, in collaboration with mixologist Nitin Tiwari, has a European menu with Indian influences, where Vanshikha’s culinary skills are on full display.