After working in the kitchens of several five-star hotels, Dr. Rukshana Billimoria, Principal of Anjuman-I-Islam's Institute of Hospitality Management, feels that working in the kitchen or college are no different from one another, as the stress levels are at par. The working hours and schedule patterns for her in the college are as hectic as she used to experience working in the kitchen, during her chef days. In a conversation with Aishwarya Iyer, the Principal shares her journey and some unknown facts from the world of Hotel Management.
“Passion is everything,” Billimoria says. “If you have passion for your work, your luck won't play any role in your career.” Billimoria claims that her passion for food and love for the field have bought her to wherever she is today. For her, everything comes due to her eternal love for food. “I will make sure that my every career would have food in it, because that's how I am passionate about it,” she adds. Billimoria did her Home Science and specialised in Food Science and Nutrition, which gave her a good base for the role of 'Chef'. Since the last eight years, Billimoria has been playing the role of Principal in the Institute and she is the first Principal who did her graduation in Hotel Management, also called Hospitality Management, because until then there were no degree courses in Hotel Management, and only diploma courses were available. Hence, Principals were only 'Diploma -holders' in the field.
More Than 'Kitchen-Kitchen!'
Billimoria wants to break the stereotype among common folks about a Hotel Management student always being in kitchen. “No! There is more than just kitchen-kitchen,” she says. According to her, a HM student has to have the knowledge of Maths, Science- Physics, Biology and Chemistry and also Arts. “Calculation is important when you are working at a 'front desk' of a hotel, so there is Math for you. Talking about every action has a reaction in Science, we make food from mere ingredients, which is a reaction,” she says firmly. When asked about Arts, she says “Making food look consumable, that's where Arts comes into the picture!” She feels that all elements concerning food are connected when it comes to cooking and with that a chef should know how to keep a smile on the face.
Normally, when we picture a Principal, we think of them as someone who inspects classes and students by walking across the building, twice or thrice a day. Billimoria trashes that picture asserting that all of it is nonsense! “I am in this Principal's chair since the last eight years, and everyday I leave home after nine in the night,” she states. She says that being a Principal in a Hotel Management Institute is much different from being a Principal at other institutions. The class timing of a HM student is from 9 am to 5 pm, which gives the Principal an extra responsibility of taking care of them. “This field is not easy, so if these students reach the top, it means they have seriously worked hard,” she concludes.
In a random conversation in between the interview, Billimoria was asked what she would do if she was given rice, bitter-gourd and some sesame seeds by this writer. To this, she promptly replied, “I will grind the seeds, stuff it inside the bitter-gourd and roast it. And for the rice, I will stir-fry the rice and place the bitter-gourd on it. And here you go, a dish is ready!”