Romy Gill MBE: truly honoured
Hailing from an ordinary Indian family in West Bengal, Romy Gill is one of only a handful of female Indian chefs in the UK, and, more than that, she is proprietor and manager of her own restaurant – Romy’s Kitchen in Thornbury, near Bristol. In recognition of her great achievement, she was awarded an MBE on the occasion of the Queen’s 90th birthday in June 2016. We were honoured to get the chance to ask her how it feels to receive the award and to find out where she’s planning on going from here.
An ambition from an early age
While she was growing up, Romy always knew that she wanted to train as a chef. Although the restaurant industry is still heavily male-dominated, she had the full support of both her parents, and her dad always said he knew she would cope. He was right: she coped admirably, forgoing a family life and social life for many years in order to realise her dream. Romy opened Romy’s Kitchen in 2013 and demonstrates her cooking skills on a regular basis at food festivals both in the UK and overseas.
Romy’s ‘one chapatti’ rule
She also works with Frank Water Charity to provide clean drinking water for people in India and with Action Against Hunger to raise money for food and skills-training in the wider subcontinent and in Burma by holding charity events in her restaurant. Her parents taught her that if you can survive on one chapatti and give another to the needy, it will give you immense satisfaction, and that is a rule that she has followed throughout her life.
The MBE: a great honour
Romy told us how proud her parents are of what she has achieved, and, of course, of her recent MBE. She herself acknowledges that it is truly a great honour, and feels that the recognition of her work gives hope to other women in the industry. She is grateful not just to her parents but also to the rest of her family and her friends for their support and encouragement.
Future plans: MasterChef and more
As is to be expected, Romy isn’t planning to rest on her laurels and she already has multiple projects on the go. Look out for her on Celebrity MasterChef, where she’s due to appear on the infamous Chef’s Table. She’s in the process of writing a book about her journey from a child in India to a restaurateur in the UK, and in the future she aspires to help more youngsters learn the trade and teach them how to cook Indian food.
See Romy at the Dartmouth Food Festival
So far this year Romy has showcased her culinary skills at the St Ives Food & Drink Festival, Foodies Festival in Bristol, Taste of London, and Bushmills Salmon Whiskey Festival in Northern Ireland, and she will also be demonstrating how to make one of her favourite fish or seafood dishes at the Dartmouth Food Festival in October. She has been a regular at the Dartmouth Food Festival for many years, since before she was a household name, and is grateful to the organisers to giving her that opportunity before her career had really taken off. ‘The Dartmouth Food Festival is very close to my heart,’ says Romy.