Celebrity Chef Dipna Anand delves into her new normal
Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, kick-starts an incisive regular series for iGlobal to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians. Dipna Anand is a celebrity chef who co-owns Southall’s famous Brilliant Restaurant in London. Here she is In Conversation with Reena Ranger as she opens up about what inspires her, getting used to a new normal and cooking through the lockdown.
Who has been your role model and had a profound impact on you?
My father has been my role model and mentor from a very young age. I have always aspired to be just like my dad and growing up have watched him achieve success after success in our restaurant business. His can-do attitude and positivity in the most challenging situations amazes me.
Dad’s energy, drive and enthusiasm has much to do with what I have achieved to date. I call him my real-life superhero and its him who is the realm of my world, forever pushing me to go even further.
My mother has a profound impact on me, and I get my strength, urgency to succeed and understanding from her. I see her struggle with her Parkinson’s illness each day, yet she somehow manages to make us all smile and warrior through her battle. A pillar of strength that’s always by my side.
Covid-19 has propelled us into a new world. What is now your new normal?
Covid-19 has been a challenging yet very valuable lesson. Life for me before this pandemic was constantly busy and on-the-go. I never stopped; my life was always in that fast lane, in fact I enjoyed it that way because to me being busy meant success.
My mindset, however, during the Covid-19 crisis has changed in its entirety. Actually, even slowing down in life can still bring your success to light. I have come to realise my home is the place I am happiest. Before Covid, on average I would only come home to sleep and maybe be home two hours during the day.
If I wasn’t at a pop up, I would be doing a demo or at my cookery school or cooking for between 250-1,000 people. Life was full to the brim and sometimes I would yearn just to be at home chilling out.
In the last three months, I have got to spend time with the two people I owe my success to, my mum and dad, as well as cook for my fans every single day and release a new daily recipe on social media. Cooking like this has helped me stay focused, it’s my new normal and I am thankful to have experienced life this sane way.
If you could go back and give your teenage self one bit of advice, what would it be?
It would be to be ready for anything. You never know what tomorrow holds. Having attachment with materialistic value items holds no significance in life.
Business and money are of course important, however, there is nothing more important than survival and the health and wellbeing of your family. I would also highlight to myself the power of nature. As human beings at times we think we are the masters of the physical world, including our own bodies. However, the deterioration of the body, whether through illness, disability, old age or ultimately death, reveals the limits of this assumption and if I understood that earlier on in life, things right now may have been a lot simpler for me to get through.
Treasure life and value each and every moment.
Did you expect your lockdown videos to have the impact they did – as food for the soul as well as the body?
Never did I ever expect that my videos would have such an impact on people during this lockdown. It was 70 odd days ago one evening, I balanced my phone on a kitchen roll holder and filmed myself marinating some chicken wings and then uploaded the video thinking nothing of it. The next morning, I was shocked to see the video had had more views than I could ever imagine along with a bunch of new followers.
Ever since, I have not stopped. I release a recipe every single day and upload to IGTV, my Youtube Channel and on Facebook. My followers keep telling me I inspire them and that I have changed their life. They share pictures of my dishes they are cooking and tell me they wait every morning for me to upload new recipe content.
These people have found comfort connecting with me; I have had an impact on encouraging some back into the kitchen and giving them confidence with their cooking. What they don’t know however is that they are the reason I am getting through this lockdown with such ease and positivity, really, they have changed my life.
Just to know I am loved and appreciated by so many people makes me never want to stop.
Reena Ranger is the Chair and Co-Founder of Women Empowered. In this exclusive “In Conversation” series for iGlobal, the dynamic entrepreneur-philanthropist will be catching up with high-achieving Global Indians across different fields to spotlight some insightful life lessons.