‘No frowning, enjoy a meal’: Meet young Kashmiri woman who defied all odds to become a chef

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Srinagar: When Iram Farooq decided to become a chef, she was told that girls from ‘khandani’ families do not take up this profession.

However, defying all the odds, she pursued her dream and is now working as a chef at a leading Kashmir valley based hotel. She not only inspires other young women wishing to become chefs, but also has come across as a ray of hope for men, who get discouraged to take up this profession in Kashmiri society.

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“I always liked to serve food to guests at home and cooking elevated my mood. Therefore, I decided to become a chef even though I did not initially get much support from the family. My cousins would say ‘khandani’ people do not join this line. Now, I want to thank ‘The Kabo’ for providing me with a platform to work as a chef as hotel owners here generally feel women won’t do a good job,” said Iram, who is an IHM, Srinagar pass-out.

Iram, who is a chef at The Kabo’s ‘Cafe Ababeel’ here, said she specialised in cooking continental food but would like to master preparing different cuisines.

“I specialise in continental but I want to learn how to cook all other dishes. Sometimes we have to stay hungry but it gives us satisfaction when I see that people are happy after eating the food I prepare,” she said.

Chef Hussain, who is the executive chef at ‘The Kabo’, regretted that several taboos were attached with the profession of cooking food. 

“Many frown upon our profession and people still call us waza. They feel we have just changed the name (to chef). Even for men, making a decision to join this line of work is not easy,” he said.

However, Hussain said there was a lot of scope in this field and young men usually ended up getting good jobs as chefs at hotels across the world.

“There is a lot of unemployment here and if youth take to this field, they will realise that there is a lot of scope. Several institutions offer crash courses and I know young men, who are now working in big hotels and getting good salaries,” he said.

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