Ankita's story reminds us that there is always room for improvement. One would think that New York City's vast selection of specialty stores and markets would satisfy any craving for ingredients from a specific culture, like Ankita's native India. But it turned out that there was a need for more accessibility, and Ankita turned it into a business opportunity with her subscription service mealkits from Saffron Fix.
When did you know that you wanted to work in food?
I realized I wanted to work in food while I was pursuing my MBA at NYU Stern. I frequently wanted to be able to cook with certain spices and herbs that I grew up eating in India, but were completely inaccessible to me in New York City. My friends often asked me to cook something special for them, but instead we just ended up going to yet another restaurant with the same old 'curries' on the menu. That's when I decided to start a meal-kit that will make Indian and other ethnic spices and ingredients more accessible. Now, with a Saffron Fix meal-kit you can cook a complete meal, full of bold and exciting flavors, in around 30 minutes!
How did you get your current good food job?
I started Saffron Fix, along with Madhuri Sharma, in 2014 when we launched a Kickstarter project together to test demand for this product. We raised more than double our original goal in only 2-3 days, and were overwhelmed by the demand! This year we re-launched the company as a subscription service, and we now ship to 21 states in the Northeast.
How did your previous work or life experience prepare you for a good food job?
I grew up surrounded by talented cooks and eating delicious food. That love for different flavors, spices, ingredients etc. has subconsciously been a part of me, and I think I am getting a chance to channel it and share with a wider community now via Saffron Fix. We are making it extremely easy even for novice cooks (like myself) to cook delicious meals, since our ingredients come pre-chopped and spices are pre-portioned.
What was the greatest obstacle you had to overcome in pursuing your Good Food Job dream?
Starting a food business, especially one that deals with fresh and perishable produce, can be logistically and operationally very challenging. We were able to get around those challenges by approaching the problem in small pieces, and attacking them one by one. When you look at the problem as a whole it tends to overwhelm you with it's complexity, but by persevering and tackling it one challenge at a time, it can be very satisfying and productive.
Name one positive thing that a former employer taught you that you continue to appreciate?
That there is no alternative to hard work. Yes, you can work smart, and be efficient with your time, but at the end of the day, if you don't work hard, it will be very difficult to succeed.
What can you identify as the greatest opportunities in food right now?
There are a lot of opportunities in the ethnic market, with potential for a lot of new products. There are also great opportunities for tech innovation in the logistics segment.
If you could be compensated for your work with something other than money, what would it be?
Honestly, it's so rewarding to see people coming together over a meal, while trying out a new cuisine from a different culture. But aside from that, a fresh home cooked meal every day with my favorite dishes and recipes would be priceless!