Most of the star hotels being operated in Nepal are under the leadership of male chefs. But a four-star hotel based in Thamel, a popular tourism hub of the country, has a different story with a woman chef as the first-ever executive leadership in the cuisine industry.
Bhoj Kumari Shah, who was born in Itahari sub-metropolis-4, Bhetghat Chowk in Sunsari, has taken up kitchen leadership at Thamel-based American chain hotel, Ramada Encore Kathmandu, for the past one month.
Born to father Biswonath Shah and mother Shanti Devi Shah in 2043 BS, she completed her school education from Sunsari-based Pathivara English School.
After completing her Diploma in Hospitality Management from Good Shepherd Institute of Hospitality Management Kalimpong Darjeeling and Diploma in Hotel Management from Indian School of Business Management College Jaypur, she got into the chef profession in 2006.
“My parents wished me to pursue nursing education. But I cherished my interest towards hotel management. My elder brother supported me to nurture my dream for hotel management education”, she recounted.
There was quite a limited number of female students to pursue education in hotel management when she was enrolled, Shah added.
She did her internship as a chef at The Lalit Hotel in Goha, India in 2006. With her internship, she accumulated her working experience at The Park Hotel Visakhapatnam, India; Novotel Hotel Hyderabad, India; Amanbag Hotel Jayapur, India; The Lodhi Hotel, New Delhi, India; Januma Palace Bhopal, India; Ulnada Resort and Spa, Oman; and Centre Point Hotel and Resort Nagpur Maharashtra, India.
She discharged her job as an executive chef at Centre Point Hotel and Resort Nagpur Maharashtra.
“Most of the star hotels feature men chefs. I have come to the position after a 16-year arduous struggle in the kitchen alone. I am fully satisfied with my profession and performance. I feel proud to introduce myself as an executive chef in the food industry”, she narrated.
The Ramada Hotel that was established in Kathmandu metropolis-16, Thamel during corona time at the cost of Rs 2.5 billion has 90 rooms. The nine-storied building has two restaurants, spa, swimming pool, gym hall and two conference halls, informed general manager of the hotel, Mahesh Phuyal.
He shared the hotel has been serving food to the domestic and foreign tourists keeping in mind their different tastes. “We are serving Spanish, Arabic, Turkish and Moroccan food through one restaurant and Pan-Asian and Indian food through another restaurant”, he informed.
As many as 1,500 chefs are affiliated to the Chefs Association of Nepal, an umbrella organization of Nepali chefs that was established in 2053 BS.
Association Chair Shyam Bahadur Lama said only 15 women chefs have been associated with the organization. The data shows that women chefs share only one percent of total chefs working in Nepal.
He further said, “No woman has ever come to get associated with the organization as an executive chef”.
Chairperson of Global Nepalese Chefs Federation and senior chef Laxman Prasad Bhandari said it was a matter of glory for Nepali chefs to see women chefs reaching the executive position in Nepali star hotels.
Chief Executive Officer of Hotel Association of Nepal Tek Mahat said, “We have seen foreign women taking up the responsibility of chef in Nepali hotels. It is so far the first-ever example of women leadership as executive chef in Nepali star hotel”.