The father and daughter are polar opposites, bound together by their passion for good food
He owns an enviable collection of vintage cars, a classic car restoration facility, has an engineering degree and is a celebrated media mogul.
At 29, Viveck Goenka’s daughter, Rachel, has proved her own mettle, but in a different sphere altogether. She owns and runs The Sassy Spoon chain of fine-dine restaurants, along with its offshoot, a pâtisserie and bakery chain called The Sassy Teaspoon. Rachel is fresh from launching her newest offering, House of Mandarin, a Chinese restaurant in buzzing Bandra. The diner, a joint venture between Rachel, Head Chef Subhash and Executive Chef Amit Bhatia, features contemporary Chinese delicacies such as Roast Pork Puffs, Aromatic Crispy Duck and Jasmine Tea Smoked Organic Pork Ribs.
Although cooking was a childhood hobby, Rachel started her professional career working with media and advertising companies. She would have stuck to that if it wasn’t for that nagging feeling to do something on her own. “Culinary school always held my interest. I decided to take the plunge and haven’t looked back since. It’s liberating to find what you really want to do with your life,” she says.
The next few years were life-changing. Rachel moved to Ireland to study at The Ballymaloe Cookery School, where she trained under celebrity chef Rachel Allen. Later, she went to Le Cordon Bleu in London, to specialise in the art of pâtisserie. Both had a deep impact on her ensuing career. “Rachel Allen’s cooking style is very homely,” she says. “Le Cordon Bleu, on the other hand, was all about precision and clean cuts. It’s helped me to have learned both styles, even though I lean towards the rustic.”
Along with Chef Irfan Pabaney, who has helmed big-ticket restaurants such as Hakkasan, Under the Over and Indigo in the past, Rachel launched The Sassy Spoon in 2013 at Nariman Point. It was an instant hit.
Viveck Goenka says Rachel’s “passionate focus on great food” sets her apart. He remembers her as a bright, inquisitive child, evolved into a focused professional. Her drive inspires him too. “It’s from her that I have learnt not to wait until tomorrow if something can be done today,” he admits.
But it’s not all work in the Goenka household. Viveck says that Rachel and he are “partners in crime” who enjoy family vacations and long drives. Viveck shares Rachel’s love for dogs (they have 10 at their family home in Goa); and his daughter has inherited his passion for cars. He owns one of the largest collection of vintage cars in the country—Indian Fiats to rare marques including a 1929 Mercedes Nurburg.
While her father is a simple man who, we are told, wears non-fussy white shirts and beige trousers almost every day, Rachel is effortlessly fashionable. “I can go from classy-chic to whimsical to casual in a matter of minutes,” she says, showing us her enviable shoe collection, peppered with YSL, Jimmy Choo and Gucci. Her walk-in closet is a chic haven, studded with Dior, Bulgari, Chloe and Gucci. She counts Sabyasachi, Rohit Gandhi + Rahul Khanna and Pankaj & Nidhi among her favourite Indian designers.
Viveck Goenka is a man of few words, even as Rachel brightens up a conversation with her friendly, effervescent vibe. Opposites in many ways, love for food forms the glue for the father-daughter duo. “Food is the one love you will never fall out of,” says Rachel. “We’re growing at a massive rate—foraying into Asian cuisine in Mumbai and Pune, and expanding The Sassy Teaspoon brand across India. We also plan to scale our Pune resto-bar, Baraza Bars and Bites,” she reveals about the venture that is perhaps just as sassy as its young, ambitious owner.
Lead image courtesy: Vinit Bhatt
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