Blogging Helped Me Find Myself - Stuti Agrawal

1. Tell us about your background and journey.

I am from Jabalpur, Madhya Pradesh. I am half Gujarati and half Marwadi but a full-on FOODIE. (because my mother is a gujju and my father is a madoo) Both these communities are a sucker for food, and I being a blend of both, am a culmination of the best that both these communities’ food cultures have to offer. Cooking and love for food is in my genes.

I have been cooking since I was 8 years old. I would watch my mom and granny cook and try to imitate them. As I grew up, the craze to cook only increased. I would go to restaurants, taste their food and think about how they prepared it. I love experimenting, and I believe that is the best way to learn anything. I would experiment with ingredients and recipes and come up with recipes of my own.

I believe that experimentation leads to Innovation, and Innovation, as we all know, is the key to success. I share my recipes on my Instagram page (@quixoticchef). Apart from my passion for food, I also run a craft venture and make handmade gifts, cards and care packages and am also a full time working professional with Vahura, Mumbai.

2. What led you to do food blogging?

After completing my 12th, I decided to pursue Law and got into a college in Ahmedabad. Yes, Ahmedabad aka Gujju Land or as I like to call it ‘A food lover’s PARADISE’. I was from a small city, had stepped out of home for the first time and the enthu cutlet that I am, I wanted to explore everything! Wanted to see everything, eat everything and experience everything.

I used to stay in Vastrapur, which was like the heart of Ahmedabad (well at least it had my heart). After college, I used to roam the streets and explore new food outlets. I had recently discovered Zomato, and as I am very passionate about food, I started sharing my experiences and writing reviews for the places I dined at.

I started reading about different cuisines, their ingredients, taste, presentation etc. to enhance my knowledge. Writing and reading about food gave me comfort, pleasure and satisfaction.

3. What does your typical day look like?

My day is anything but typical. I am a very energetic and hyper person like I have the kind of energy that pisses people off :P When all my friends wake up and want their coffee, I would wake up and just start talking about my plans for the day. If there are 24 hours in a day, I want to be busy, occupied and productive for 25 of them (yes you read it right).

I am a true Baniya, I hate wastage, be it money, time or effort, I want everything to be utilised to its optimum. That's why I don't like to sleep a lot, I feel it is a waste of my time. I would rather read, learn or make something at that time. I moved to Mumbai in 2018 for my job. I stay in a flat, even though I have a cook, I am a bit of a control freak and a perfectionist.

So my days start with giving instructions, lots and lots of instructions to my cook. I have taught her many dishes in 2 years, mostly salads, soups and healthy meals, so my mornings are a bit easier now. For me, breakfast is a MUST! It is like fuel to my engine, I cannot start my day without it. And I am a horrible person when I am hungry, hangry rather. So I have my breakfast and leave for the office.

My work is also very interesting, I am a consultant, so I talk to new people and work on new assignments every day, and that's great because I need novelty and variety in my life. I am like that little kid who gets bored with their toys every day and wants something new. My work requires a lot of talking, which you all would have established, I love to, I mean c'mon see the length of my answers.

I am that kid who used to never stick to the word limit in her answers even if it calls for negative marking. After office, I come back home and mostly cook dinner on my own, go for a walk, or watch something on Netflix. But here is the thing, I cannot just do one thing at a time, I have to have to multitask, so if I am watching something, I will either pull out my craft and make something or surf the net to find new inspirations for my recipes/content.

This is the biggest reason I cannot watch trending K-dramas on Netflix, they need 100% attention! I cannot do anything while watching them and trust me, I tried! Watched 2 episodes of Crash Landing on you but I gave up. So to sum it up, my typical day is BUSY!

4. When did you first decide that you wanted to create and write content about food, i.e. for blogging?

I was always passionate about food but not as ambitious as a person. I was still trying to discover myself and find a way to channelise my energy and talent in college when one of my closest friend (now mi Amor) suggested that I start clicking pictures and share them on Instagram. As I used to also run a craft venture actively back then, he also came up with the name TheCraftlicious (Craft + Delicious).

So in 2016, I started my Instagram and Facebook page to showcase my love for food and craft. But, law school was time-consuming, and I was not able to do craft much and used to cook more, so he asked me to change the name to The Quixotic Chef. I also created a blog on WordPress, where I shared easy recipes as I wanted to share something that students like myself can make in no time.

After seeing my work on Instagram and Zomato, I got an invite for the menu testing of a new restaurant in Ahmedabad. It was my first experience of being invited to a bloggers table. And it was amazing! I met other bloggers, we exchanged numbers, had a great time, made beautiful memories, bonded over our love for food and became friends!

This day was the starting of my blogging stint, I started getting invites for bloggers table almost every week. I learnt a lot from my blogger friends, I even hosted one myself. As I used to cook and bake as well, I started getting requests to host a session to teach and share my recipes. And I never say never! So I did!

I hosted my 1st bakeshop in my hometown Jabalpur, then hosted an Eat Clean Cookshop there again lastly before leaving Ahmedabad, I took an Eat Clean Cookshop there too (You all can check out the pictures on my page, scroll down please, it was a long time back :P) Then I moved to Mumbai, took me a while to find my place here as it was a new city. But within 6 months, I built my network and started reviewing places again.

I get invites to review new restaurants or try their new menu. I have discovered so many new places, cuisines and even things about myself. Blogging helped me find myself, find things that I didn't even know about myself, made me do the thing that I didn't think I could. It made me so confident!

We live in a world where social media is an integral part of our lives, and your followers on social media determine how good/great your work is. But don't let this fool you, it is not a numbers game, it is not a competition. Do it for yourself, for your happiness and satisfaction and not external validation.

5. Is there a dish you particularly associate yourself with?

Jalebi. I am desi like it's shaped, I am also confused and go around and around. It is difficult to understand the origin and end of a jalebi, and it's difficult to understand what I say because I start with a story but end with another. I am sweet, the life of the party, no celebration is complete without my presence (that's what my friends and family say). Everyone loves me (well almost, everyone :P)

6. Which is your favourite book, and why?

Favourite book?? Mmm, I don't have a favourite book, but my favourite genre is Cookbooks! I love reading new recipes and trying them! It excites me the most! And if I have to name my favourite cookbook it would be, Pooja Dhingra's Can't Believe it's Eggless! If you love baking and don't own a copy, you are missing out on a lot! Go get it, Now! #notsponsored.

Interview By - Suhani Mangleek

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