"The popular of Indian food is on the rise, but I do not think it will ever attain the position that Italian food holds, as Indian cuisine is very complex and has particular flavours, which does not appeal to everyone," Dalmia, co-founder of Italian restaurant chain Diva, told Life.
Dalmia, who has re-launched Diva Spiced, a blend of modern Asian dishes along with some regional Indian flavours, said her journey in the food industry was something she never thought of.
"I always loved cooking for pleasure, and after having a series of very bad meals I commented about it to some friends, who turned around and said if you think you can do better then why don't you start a restaurant. Passionate and enterprising that I was, I took their words to heart and within three months opened my first restaurant.
"I was forced to do my first catering by a client, who insisted that he wanted Diva food for his 40th birthday. That was the day I just said to myself, 'hey this was fun, and I think I could do this'," she told .
The chef says though her brand does many events, it is very "thoughtful and selective about the kind of events it wants to do".
"Italy and I, have a connection from my past life. I had to do something to challenge myself. And next thing I knew was that Cittamani was in the pipeline. And here we are today, without my having the slightest idea how we got here," she said.
But in the meanwhile, work by Dalmia and her ilk has helped change traditional perceptions about food and the people who prepare it. She recalled how she was offered the job of a "domestic cook" when she opened her first restaurant. "Back then, a chef, in people's mind, was equal to a domestic help. But today they are treated like celebrities, respected and admired. So I guess we have come a long way."
She said her Diva catering has always been very conscious about not wasting food, long before the Delhi government decided to draft a law to keep a check on food wastage at social functions in the national capital.
"We work with NGOs like Feeding India, volunteers of which come at the end of every event to pick up all the leftovers. Then again we are not a regular catering company with hundreds dishes on our menu. Our motto has always been, "less is more," she said.
Dalmia said cooking calms her down. "It is the only thing that soothes and relaxes me," she said. The chef is now getting ready to launch her next venture in Noida. She also has plans to majorly expand in Italy.
( With inputs from IANS )