Nikita Gandhi has been cooking independently since the age of eight. As she grew older, her passion for cooking grew with her, and all she has dreamt of was going to culinary school.
Nikita, who is originally from Gujarat, India, was born and raised in Abu Dhabi. However, in 2011, she moved to America to study business in college – after much contemplation on whether to study the culinary arts, she opted for a safer option. To continue her involvement in cooking, she founded a student organization called UB-licious where her goal was to get college students to cook healthy food at home and stop eating out at restaurants. She wanted to show students how more affordable it was to buy ingredients and cook at home, over eating out every day.
As part of UB-licious, she hosted charity bake sales. This got her baking talent noticed and she soon received an order of 300 cupcakes from her college. This was one of her first big orders, and it gave her the push to bake in bulk, and to justify the purchase her dream kitchen equipment, a KitchenAid stand mixer. The success of her home bakery business continued as she got orders from university students, staff and faculty. She hasn’t only baked hundreds of cupcakes, she packaged and delivered them herself.
After graduating in 2014 with a degree in Business Finance, Nikita moved to New Jersey with her sister where they found an apartment that was accessible to New York City so she could intern at one of her dream pastry shops. She sent out many job applications, but failed at getting a job because she lacked that culinary school background. Rather than sit at home and do nothing, she attended the Carsten Institute of Cosmetology in NYC to learn professional makeup application, but at the same time started a food blog and a YouTube channel called â€śtheveggiefixâ€ť. By this point, it was clear to her that she would always regret not going to culinary school.
Then she got her break. She heard that MasterChef India was looking for contestants for their new season. So she flew to India and queued her up in the audition lines for the fourth season. After 11 grueling weeks and 67 televised episodes of the fierce culinary competition, Nikita emerged as the winner – she was the youngest applicant to ever win MasterChef India! This achievement marked the beginning of her real-world culinary journey to her current job, which is pastry chef at the Beach Rotana Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Nikita still takes opportunities to participate in cooking shows and demos in India, the US and the US. In August 2015, she had the privilege of preparing an exclusive meal with Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and his team for the Indian Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.
Nikita is relishing her cooking journey, but her ultimate goal is to open a restaurant.