Indore: Setting an example for others, 23-year-old culinary artist Rakshita Mehta has made a special place in her family and cooking enthusiasts in the city. Having battled cancer at the age of 2 days, the little girl knows when to stand strong and when to accept her mistakes.
Talking about her childhood, Rakshita discussed about her stomach tumour. “My father was initially not attached to me, as he wanted a boy,” Rakshita shared. However, when doctors stated that she won’t survive post-surgery, her father also prayed for her survival. “Being born with luck, the tumour came out easier than imagined and despite two months of critical condition, I survived,” Rakshita said.
“Being a warrior, I fought against all odds to live my dreams. Of course, there were downfalls, compromises and mistakes, but I found my way.” “My father tried to arrange my marriage when I turned 18, but thankfully he did not find anyone,” Rakshita chuckled. Following the trend and IIT-JEE fever, her father forced her to do the same. “Honestly, I do not understand even ‘E’ of engineering, but I did not have a choice so I attempted all entrance tests and also cleared PET,” Rakshita said. Recalling how she prepared for entrance, she laughed sharing that her entire time was spent in kitchen and never in study room.
“I was fond of food and that is what I did all the time, in fact I gave some of my neighbours free training on cooking yummy gravies without onion and garlic,” Rakshita said. During her first year of engineering, she went over for a vacation to her aunt’s place in Pune.
“I had been reading a little about homemade chocolates, but in Pune, I got lucky when I noticed my aunt’s neighbour making them,” Rakshita said. Her love for cooking broke her inhibitions and she requested the neighbour to teach her.
“I learned to make chocolates of three types from her and brought compound, mould and wrappers from Pune, as it was more reasonable and logical to do that,” Rakshita said. Experimenting skill with new inventions, she discovered 20 flavours of chocolates. “One of my neighbours requested me to take class for her kitty group and I could not deny,” Rakshita said. Her taste and teaching skill spread with word of mouth.
Sadly, her father did not support the idea of her taking classes. “I convinced my mother (Snehrashmi) to let me take classes and showed her the respect a chef receives along with perks,” Rakshita said. Luckily, her consistent effort worked and her father allowed her to take classes. Being aware of her interest, Rakshita had been trying to convince her father to let her study culinary arts since school days.
“My efforts paid off when he was ready to lend my ideas an ear,” Rakshita said. However, when she shared her wish to study from International Institute of Culinary Arts (IICA), it felt like an earthquake hit her house. “I cried and fought even on my birthday, when the fight turned into a disaster,” Rakshita said. Her father (Hemant) asked her to leave the house.
“Standing firm, I packed my bag and asked my father to drop me at my friend’s (Pragya) place,” Rakshita said. Her friend and her father (Atul Trivedi) had been her biggest support. “Dad was convinced and we went there, but finally, I decided to abandon it because they were solely concentrating on profession and not domestic development,” Rakshita said. Finally, finding her guide she learned baking from trainer Avani Patni in Bhopal. Empowering women to find their art, she has found her way into baking and became one of the most refined pastry chefs in the city.