1. Please tell us about who you are and what you do.
Sana: My name is Sana and I am born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan. Currently living in Bucharest, Romania with my Family.
I am a pharmacist by profession and have been associated with hospital pharmacy for few years but also had many years associated to different schools in Bucharest for teaching science and other subjects. Although I enjoyed most of my professional life and have blessed with a lot of friends during these years, but during all these real satisfaction was felt when I was in kitchen working on something new or improving a recipe. The sense of achievement and happiness I felt after I complete a tasty recipe with my own blend is unimaginable.
Ever since I was a little kid I have had this immense passion for cooking (and eating) and as you would have imagined I was a chubby kid and was attracting a lot of comments about my weight. Well no comment could change my habits but eventually what I managed to developed within myself was a habit of searching and exploring for delicious but healthy food options with which I can maintain my health while keeping my eating habits.
I believe in experiments and adaptation, so every recipe I cook, I add something of my own and I have seen good results all along. So there is nothing really authentic, the food is about love, taste and fun so why limit it to a piece of paper and a set of instructions. I would encourage all of you to explore the world of food without any pressure, and cook the way you like it.
2. Share your backstory with us. How did your business or organisation come about and what was it that switched you on to this area in the first place?
Sana: I always had this in the back of my mind for being a chef and owning a restaurant or a food related business and I also did some courses for my interest but it never occurred to me that I will actually do it in near future, Couple of years back, I was following a usual routine of working a regular job in different schools (which by the way I also loved) with less pressure until my habits of cooking and letting my friends taste it start getting serious appreciation and I actually started getting offers to make food for small gatherings.
When I had my second child and i decided to leave work (for me my family is highest priority), this time in hand made me think more clear about this path and then I slowly and gradually start entertaining request from friends and colleagues and then the referral start growing.
A serious turn was when I was asked by an official sports organisation to be their official cater for their international and local tournaments, I appreciate the trust they made in me and I always stretched myself to keep the quality and taste up to high standards.
3. What do you think or hope the future has in store for you and your business? Where do you see yourself or your organisation five years from now?
Sana: Well, I hope as many other food businesses to grow it to a level where I can make a difference, to have my name recognized as a renowned chef and to be a house hold name in Romania, I want to introduce and to be the face of Indian/Pakistani food in Romania (especially I want to break the myth that this type of food is always too spicy for Europeans). I want to be at a position where I can influence other women like me who are still thinking at the border line of job and business to cross and take a calculated risk at the business domain.
I haven’t think of that long but I believe in smaller milestones, in order to keep me motivated along the way for e.g. if you would make a bigger target to reach the top of mount Everest then you may be demotivated during the way with difficulties, but if you will make shorter goals like climbing a few hundred feet everyday then you will keep motivated with achieving your target every day and eventually achieve a greater goal.
4. How has lockdown been for you and for your business and what have you done that has helped you personally and professionally?
Sana: The lockdown actually gave all of us sometime out from the daily rat race and as I said gave me time to think more clear about this direction to choose it as a career path. Although most of the businesses fight for survival during this period, the business model I had was actually growing in this time of lockdown because everyone was staying home, dine outs were a dream, takeaways and deliveries were the main source of entertainment. I made a lot of study and experiments during this time to master my recipes and to understand the model. I always believe that when one door is shut then we are able to look for and find many other open doors.
5. What’s your take on Bucharest and Romania. What are the highs and the lows in your opinion?
Sana: I have been in Romania for 8 years now and all this time I stayed in Bucharest and from few years in Pipera Ilfov, I travelled to many cities in Romania, being a capital and metropolitan city I would say Bucharest is a lively and happening city with a lot of activities to do for every interest, I love the parks in Bucharest, there are also quite a lot of museums and big malls (as I love shopping).
For Lows, I could mention the traffic during busy hours, and the way taxi drivers drive 🙂
6. What is your must do/must visit/favorite thing to do or show off to visitors here in Bucharest and Romania at large?
Sana: In Bucharest I would recommend parks, parliament building and the areas around it.
Outside Bucharest, there are many favourite places and recommendations like Sinaia Peles Castle, Busteni (Cantacuzino Castle), Parcul Bucegi, Transfagaras (Balea Lake), Mamaia beach, I love Brasov City centre.
7. What is your number 1 recommendation now for a book/film/series/app/ or gadget?
Sana: I remember watching a very motivational 2015 movie (inspired by real story) called “Joy” it is a story of a woman (played by Jennifer Lawrence and real life character Joy Mangano) who tried to follow her dreams and struggled hard to achieve them and make her family grow with her even with a lot of obstacles, after her success she supported many talented women like her to follow their dreams. I recommend all the girls and ladies to see this movie.
8. If you could eat in any restaurant in all of Romania and have dinner with anyone in the world (not a husband/wife/relative) which restaurant would that be and with which person?
Sana: I am a kind of person that implements stuff and take action and I love meeting people who have the same spirit, I don’t follow any specific persons, but I think I will love to have dinner with the personality who can share their life struggle and have achieved their goals despite hardships and opposition, but not stepping over others.
Restaurants there are too many to say, but I like a Lebanese restaurant named “Four Seasons”. I like the food and ambiance and would like to go there again for a mindful discussion.
9. Sum up your business in one sentence, what it is and why should people engage with it.
Sana: My business is about cooking with passion, its about experiment and breaking the norm of following a recipe. “Kitchen Hut” represents my kitchen which feels home for me.
10. Describe your Romania in one word.