Shifa Sheriff is the inspiring professional behind The Culinary Cat – she’s an architect-turned-cake-artist based in Bangalore.

This venture of mine was officially born around the end of 2015 after having had an epiphany on my way home after working a very depressing shift in my first full time job and realizing that what I was really looking forward to was getting home and popping something in the oven and washing away the architect-ness of my day!

As a conversation starter, I asked Shifa Sheriff about changing career lanes to follow her dream. I have always wondered how young people these days gather courage and conviction, to follow through on inspiration from inner voices.

I’m an architect-turned-cake-artist based in Bangalore – and have been baking since early 2006. However, The Culinary Cat was officially born around the end of 2015 after having had an epiphany on my way home after working a very depressing shift in my first full time job and realizing that what I was really looking forward to was getting home and popping something in the oven and washing away the architect-ness of my day!

And here’s how the rest of the interview went with this passionate young professional who has already become a role model for young people at the crossroads of a difficult career decision.

Do young people these days have more “passion career” options to choose from, when you compare with the previous generation?
To some extent yes, there are a lot more options and creative fields out there today than there were, say, 20 years ago, thanks to the boom in technology and social media; but more than the emergence of new opportunities, I would say the awareness of such opportunities is more accessible today, which is why so many people are choosing to walk off the beaten track. Moreover, the average middle class Indian is exponentially less bound by the responsibility of finances and family commitments as compared to the average middle class Indian of the previous generation, and we’ve been granted a lot more luxury to choose such paths for ourselves today because of that.

How difficult is it for a young person to start a venture like yours? Did you work as an understudy with someone before starting venture on your own?
Well, it depends on which aspect of the business you’re talking about. In terms of technical skills required, it’s really not all that difficult to set up once you have your basics in order. For starters, today there are a dime a dozen institutes that you can get trained at without having to go to full-fledged culinary school. My learning, however, has been entirely self-reliant with a frightening number of trials and even more deadly number of errors, countless hours of sifting through the internet and more than anything, good old fashioned passion towards the industry. As for training under someone before starting out, the thought never even occurred to me to do so because I started the business pretty much on a whim that was based on frustration with my current major at the time! I did do a brief stint at a commercial kitchen in Chennai as the production manager and cake designer in early 2019 which showed me a lot of gaping holes in my knowledge of what would be considered very basic skills, having neither attended culinary school nor worked at a professional kitchen before. Funnily enough, none of these things impacted my business too much!

More on this interview with Shifa Sheriff
on my Linkedin feed

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