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‘I inspire myself by everything around me’ – Chef Ruby Islam, Chocolatier and Junior Sous Chef, ITC Gardenia

This interview is part of the series for International Women’s Day.

Chef Ruby Islam is the in-house chocolatier at ITC Gardenia. She is responsible and in-charge for Food and Beverage production at Fabelle, the chocolate boutique stationed in the hotel.

She holds a Bachelors degree in Hotel Management with a specialization in Bakery and Pastry Arts. She comes with a rich experience having worked with speciality restaurants and bakeries and a luxury hotel. She joined ITC hotels in 2013 as a management trainee at ITC HMI and began with training at ITC Maurya, New Delhi post which she joined ITC Grand Bharat in 2014. She played an elementary role as a pre-opening team member to set up the Bakery and Pastry Kitchen at the hotel. She then moved to ITC Gardenia as Junior Sous Chef, Pastry and Bakery and has now taken over as the chocolatier at Fabelle.

Ruby Islam
Chocolatier and Junior Sous Chef , ITC Gardenia Hotel Bengaluru

Ruby has been a trailblazer holding her passion strong during the pre and post launch period of Fabelle, the chocolate boutique at ITC Gardenia. She has undergone an extensive training under internationally acknowledged chocolate artisan, Christophe Morel during his visit to India last year before the launch of Fabelle. Her inbuilt creativity and acumen have driven her to be one of the most dedicated chefs in the team.

Her signature creations at Fabelle are Premium Almond and Coriander Praline Tartine;
and Salted Caramel Ganache.

Chef Ruby Islam in an interview with Suman Prasad spoke in length about how she motivates herself at work, how she balances her personal & professional life, on how she chose to make a career in F&B and other interesting details.

Excerpts from the interview.

On motivating herself at work

My motivation to create always comes from being hungry, literally. I inspire myself by everything around me, recreating childhood memories, creating a wow experience every time I set out a plate by playing with colours, textures, flavours and elements of surprise; and using ingredients in a manner wherein it’s truly appreciated for what it is or where it comes from.

Would you know that Madagascar beans, one of the most celebrated chocolates today owe its superiority to nearly 50 kms radius of farm land where cocao growth had flourished since the 1930’s. It’s barely 1% of the world’s cocao growth. Farmers handling the chocolates, the climatic conditions, the Sambirano Madagascar soil enriched by minerals of the river that flows along side – give it a profound red fruity taste that tingle your taste buds to surprise.

Food always has a story to tell.

On keeping a balance between personal and professional life

The initial years in this profession requires dedicated, long hours of work. My boss/mentor/confidant once said to me “Your going to find yourself married to your job”.

Soon I realized that this type of work required me to read more, expose myself to trends, practice styles and most importantly, be patient as you truly have to be so if you want to teach yourself something new. It’s also very important to have a healthy mind to be able to think and create. I try
to be healthy, dedicate to fitness and engage in hobbies that excite me.

On what made her decide to establish her career in F&B and the initial challenges

It simply started with the want to eat! As a child I found myself lurking around the kitchen to make an attempt at the Pilsbury cooker cake without blowing it up. I love sweet. And today I head the kitchen of Fabelle- where I’m eating chocolate all day long.

The obvious challenge (considering I’m a woman) was-“Why kitchen? Choose Sales and Marketing!”

On skills which are important to be a good leader

I think to be a good leader it is important to be:

  • Disciplined
  • Have empathy towards your colleagues
  • A drive to achieve and be able to prioritize.

On the biggest issue facing women her age today

Safety – Both personally and professionally.

​On whether it is important to have an International Women’s Day

I do think so. Yes, women have lived a life- treated inferior to men. Over the years this has significantly  changed. International Woman’s day could in a way be a reminder to the world out there that we need to be treated with dignity, respect and celebrated.

Tips for women who want to make a career in F&B industry or to be more specific become a Chocolatier?​

Accept and acknowledge that its’s a hard life. A tough life that will need you to be strong towards all the challenges thrown at you, rather than succumb to it and often find you asking yourself “Why me”?

The biggest challenge of working around only men for me was communication, finding common associations and delegation. Think beyond that, follow the pursuit of perfection and inspire others with your passion.

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