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Khushboo Sharma

IWB Blogger

Listed In Forbes 30 Under 30, Shraddha Says One Should Hire Weaknesses To Succeed

  • IWB Post
  •  February 10, 2018

Forget about making it to Forbes 30 Under 30 list, how many of us realise and achieve our dreams at the young age of 25? Young and vivacious Shraddha Bhansali is one of those rare few who has not only achieved her dreams at 25 but has been recognised by Forbes’ for having a cause associated with her dreams!

Founder and Managing Director of Candy & Green, Shraddha Bhansali is on a mission to give the vegetarian food the place that it deserves in the world cuisine with the zero-carbon imprint. To say the least she certainly is a woman with a cause.

If you browse through her posts on social media you would find her to be a carefree young woman who is making the most of her life. Talking to her is an entirely different experience though. I was left amazed at Shraddha’s level of confidence. She talked to me like a friend and we hit it off the instant we discovered our mutual love for cheese and experimentation in food.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

First of all, congratulations for making it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 list! How does it feel?

Honestly, it is really surreal! I feel very elated. It’s like you work hard every day and when it pays off like this you feel even more motivated. I also feel motivated to be in league with such extraordinary people. My entire team is overjoyed.

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Please solve the mystery behind the name Candy and Green. What inspired the name?

It started off as a joke. It is located at Breach Candy and we grow greens, thus the name Candy and Green. But then we thought this sounds really silly and we sat and wrote down what we envisioned the restaurant to be. While we jotted all down, an amalgamation of opposing thought started shaping up the idea. For instance, while we had a global menu we were using local produce for it. So the name Candy and Green came out as a sum of two hedonistic heads.

Tell me about the inspiration behind this ground-breaking business idea that aims toward sustainability.

I never thought somebody would use words like ground-breaking for me.

When I was in Boston I witnessed this huge wave of veganism. While although India is an agriculture country there were hardly any fine dining vegetarian restaurants that stood out. Then I interacted with an Urban farmer and learnt about the prospects of growing greens and micro greens on our rooftop and I started looking at the possibility. The idea got us so excited that it finally became a thing.

Describe your journey as a female entrepreneur. Did the gender factor affect it somehow?

The journey was rather rocky in the beginning. It was hard to find people who’d trust and give us space for the restaurant. They constantly questioned what would happen if she fails because people have this superstition that a place becomes jinxed if a business doesn’t prosper there. They were apprehensive as I had no family background in business and also, they had it in the back of their minds that what would happen if she gets married? But things changed for better. I think all the people on my team including my landlord are feminists for that matter because they believed in me and nobody ever said that you are a girl and you can’t do it. I am the youngest member in my team but nobody ever questioned my decisions. I think as a female entrepreneur it is very important to hire people that are not threatened by women.

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How can we make vegetarian kitchens more sustainable and vegetarian meals more interesting in India?

By exploring! There are so many different ways to cook a particular vegetable beyond just boiling and frying. One should take time to understand vegetables and explore the various ways of cooking them. We have this habit of eating the main part of the vegetable but discarding the rest but there are many innovative ways of using this waste as well. The vegetable doesn’t have to be expensive in order to culminate in a great dish. For instance, the most humble potato is super versatile and can be cooked in so many amazing ways.

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How do you manage your kitchen waste?

We are planning to invest in composting our kitchen waste. We grow greens and micro greens on our rooftop and use organic composts in the farming process and what would be better than using our own organic compost?

What’s growing on your roof right now?

We are currently engaged in vertical farming and are producing our own green leafy vegetables and herbs. You’d see lemongrass, thyme, edible flowers, green vegetables and many varieties of micro-greens there.

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Do you like gardening?

Yes, I do. I do it just for fun but my mom is an avid gardener. We have a farmhouse in Pune and my mom has proper hydroponic gardening setup there.

Which dish would you define as your comfort food?

Mashed potatoes! It’s the best comfort food and can put you in a good mood almost instantly. It is so versatile.

Do you cook?

Yes, I cook at home. I like to surprise myself when I cook.

What do you prepare most often?

There is a secret herb oil that I make with my mom. We mix extra virgin oil with some thyme, basil, oregano, and spices. This oil can be added to a number of dishes. For instance, if you add this herb oil to the basic stir-fry along with some cheese, the results are simply amazing. I make this oil almost 3 times a week.

Would you like to share a healthy and easy recipe that every vegetarian should know about?

Yes, why not! I will text the recipe of zucchini noodles to you right away.

Zucchini Noodles recipe:

You need: 1 big zucchini, Peeler or spiralizer (available on Amazon).

Method: Cut the two ends of the zucchini as they tend to be bitter. Using either a peeler or spiralizer make your zucchini noodles. Zucchini noodles are very versatile so you can toss them in a flavor of your choice. I generally toss mine in an aglio olio or light soy and sesame dressing.

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Sounds like you have been cooking from quite a young age. How did it all start?

When I was younger I used to sit and watch my mom cook. I eat a lot better than I cook. (Laughs) I have always been a picky eater. I have had tried the most bizarre of the foods but also I am a stickler for quality. I have done the craziest of the experiments in food. For instance, I recently discovered cheese tea and it’s really good! I shared the concept with my bartenders and we went on a YouTube binge to crack the perfect recipe. It’s basically like a sweetened green tea and you’d have to taste it to believe it.

What was the one vegetable that you always remove from your plate?

Ummm…uncooked red carrots. I don’t like uncooked red carrots at all.

Would you like to share a fond food memory from your childhood?

The food cooked by my grandmom is my happiest food memory. I am Gujarati and whenever we used to visit her she made pooris with potato and peas sabji. She knew that we as kids prefer pizzas and similar food more and thus would go out of her way to make food interesting for us. She used to use spinach and beetroot to make green and red pooris.

How does traveling make you a better restaurateur?

When I traveled to places like China, I was mocked and told to carry my thepalas and all as it is a common belief that finding vegetarian food there is a herculean task. But travelling has taught me that you can find a different kind of vegetarian cuisine with its own distinct flavors in almost every place in the world. For example, in China, you will find Buddhist vegetarian and it is nothing close to the Chinese that we have in Mumbai. Travelling also keeps me informed about the quality standards. I have tried Manchego cheese in Spain and now I can tell my local vendor about the quality of cheese that he delivers.

What is your favorite cuisine?

That’s a really hard one! I mean I can talk about my favorite restaurants but it would be really hard to pick one particular cuisine. Maybe Swiss, because I am a huge sucker for cheese.

Please share with us the three tips that you’d like to give to the newcomers in the restaurant business?

Okay, so first would be: hire your weaknesses! For example, if you are not good at accounts, then ensure you hire the best in the field. But if you are good at something then make sure that you do it by yourself.

The second tip, would be always put people over profit.

And the third one would be quality over quantity.

You just mentioned that if you have some strengths make sure that you employ them yourself. What are your strengths?

I am really good at talking about the brand. My strength would be my marketing skills. I am a people’s person and always on the floor talking to them. Also, like I said, I eat better than I cook and I am very good at assessing the quality and taste of the food. Even if a dish is just 5 % off, I’d detect that instantly and tell you exactly what is wrong.

What are your nonfood passions?

There are many but boxing is surely one. I started with training in a semi-professional ring, and it has been six years now and I am still boxing.

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