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Ability to connect dots great strength, says consultant Munshaw Ghildiyal
Saturday, 15 April, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Harcha Bhaskar, Mumbai

The Indian food industry is growing by leaps and bounds, offering exciting opportunities to food consultancy firms. With the rapid growth in the industry, companies cannot deal with these challenges themselves and need expertise that is very subject-specific. That is where the work of a consultant begins.

Food consultants execute projects that make lasting footprints in the food and beverage space. One such well-known consultant is Rushina Munashaw Ghildiyal, who owns A Perfect Bite, a well-known food consulting firm, and APB Cook Studio, a home cooking studio.  

A Perfect Bite is engaged in connecting food importers, suppliers, retailers and restaurants with their customers through a variety of channels.

Talking about her responsibility as a consultant, Munshaw-Ghildiyal says, “As a food consultant, the core job is to have an eye on the industry, analyse the trends, study the past and present and predict the future. Understanding the requirements of the client and delivering the right mix of services to cater to their needs is must for a consultant.”

“While deliverables differ from project to project, and usually have changing contexts, as consultants, make it your business to understand the requirements of a client or project, and offer turnkey solutions,” she added.  

Munshaw-Ghildiyal successfully leads a strong core-team of individuals who are specialised in identifying and putting together ensemble casts of experienced, creative professionals to best serve projects.

Her customised services extends from conceptualising, content development, product, menu and recipe development, brochure design and writing, to creative marketing strategies and event planning, curation and execution in an advisory capacity.

Recalling how her firm came into existence in the year 2009, setting a trend, Munshaw-Ghidiyal said, “The growth of A Perfect Bite has been entirely organic, but in retrospect, it has stayed in keeping with the food outlook I first began with.”

“The name, A Perfect Bite, was something I coined for my blog after a scene in the movie A Mirror Has Two Faces, in which the main characters are played by Jeff Bridges and Barbra Streisand,” she added.

“I share a similar obsession with Streisand’s character in the movie. When I eat, I need to get all the elements on my plate perfectly balanced in each bite. Similarly, I wanted my blog to be a place where I could table everything food-related - food, Indian food, world cuisine, food trends, food writing, food books, food in art, food in the movies, food travel - and not boxed into one particular niche. A perfect bite seemed to offer the perfect name to bring all of these facets together under one name,” Munshaw-Ghildiyal said.

With the company, she intends to explore all sorts of food-related ideas, from the design aspects of food, to its production, marketing and food travel, and a lot more as well.

Munshaw-Ghildiyal said, “I also have a goal to be instrumental in creating a repository to document and preserve the glory of Indian culinary heritage.”

“I am currently working on a number of diverse projects with a variety of clients currently. There is a kitchen appliance company providing food and product expertise on an ongoing basis,” she added.
 
“We provide advise on how to best feature their products for the Indian consumer, with the right kind of messaging,” Munshaw-Ghildiyal said.

“They are all set to launch a revolutionary new product. We are also consulting several spice and ingredient companies that produces premium ingredients, assisting with developing content and collateral to help them connect with the consumers through our various channels, including cooking classes at APB Cook Studio,” she added.

Munshaw-Ghildiyal, who is from a Gujarati family with a rich culinary tradition, was married into a Garhwali family. With her husband Shekhar, and two kids, Aman (14) and Natasha (nine), she interprets her life as a mad food-obsessed life in Mumbai.

Her first book, A Pinch of This, A Handful of That, was published in December 2013 and recently bagged the World Gourmand Award.

When Munshaw-Ghildiyal had her first child, she took a sabbatical. That was when she discovered her interest in food writing. Through weeks of dithering around, lurking through its forums, she worked up the courage to put up an essay on the cuisine of Uttarakhand.

“The cuisine in question being unknown, my post got a lot of attention and my inherent talent for research and writing must have come through, because I got a lot of praise,” she added.

Later, Munshaw-Ghildiyal’s career took another turn. She said, “I was approached to consult with a food consortium from Italy. It brought new opportunities, and I set up A Perfect Bite Consulting.”

“The beginnings were modest. I worked out of a studio office in my home and provided food-focused editorial content to a host of reputed international print and digital publications,” Munshaw-Ghildiyal said.

“We began consulting to the Italian consortium, curating festivals, events and famils for them. We added clients such as Nature’s Basket, Amore Gelato and Indita Lifestyles. We now provide consulting services to companies in the food and beverage and hotel, restaurant and cafe (HoReCa) sectors (food producers, appliance companies, importers, suppliers, retailers, and restaurants),” she added.

Talking about the core experience that she has learnt to sustain a business, Munshaw-Ghildiyal said, “I have learned that relationships are important in anything that we do, and I have over the years honed my ability to be a good person to have as a friend and a colleague. In return, I am enriched with amazing people in life and work that strengthen and guide me as much as I do them.”

Every turn and every project brings new challenges. She said, “My journey has taught me that you can have a dream and you can make it come true. I believe that if we believe we deserve it, the cosmos will work to deliver it. To back that up, I have an infinite capacity to work incredibly hard.”

When quizzed about her inclination towards food, Munshaw-Ghildiyal said, “I began to explore the world of food quite inadvertently. I was an arts student, animator, travel consultant, copywriter, illustrator, product specialist and candle-maker before I found my calling as a gastronomy writer and went on to become a food stylist and then a consultant. Today I am the owner of APB Cook Studio. I am self-taught in the fields of food writing and cooking.”

A noteworthy initiative taken up by Munshaw-Ghildiyal is to train a batch of municipal school students in food and cooking under the Teach for India programme.

Having explored a versatile career in the food industry, she considered her ability to connect the dots a great strength and the foundation of the ideas and the projects she curated.

Munshaw-Ghildiyal believed that the biggest quality required in a person to succeed is the undying passion in work. She pointed out, “I am single-minded in my approach to anything I take up. And I will not give up until I succeed in it.”

Talking about inspirations she gets to work each day, she said, “Every person we inspire to cook is what keeps me going. I have enjoyed every bit of every role I have played.”

“It has been a delicious journey so far, with every stage being one of natural evolution. I have also had to learn on the job, everything from blogging to accounting to marketing. And it has not been easy. It seldom is when one decides to take the road less travelled,” Munshaw-Ghildiyal said.

Summing her fondness towards food, she added,“Food is my religion, and I pray as often as I can.”
 
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