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Meet Juhi Dalal of Zaikka By Juhi in Orange County

Today we’d like to introduce you to Juhi Dalal.

Juhi, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I came to the United States from Mumbai, India at the young age of 6. Like many immigrant families, my parents came to the states for the betterment of my future, my education, and my career. As an immigrant child, I too had to overcome the many obstacles that come along with living in a new country like language barriers, cultural differences, and being the “new kid on the block.” As a few years prolonged, I started blending into this new world that at first seemed so alien to me and now seems like home. I started a new chapter of my life at the age of 16 when I landed my first job as a hostess for a restaurant.

As I look back at those memories, the reason I got the job was for my passion for cooking and keen desire to be part of the food industry that the hiring manager saw in me. I came prepared for my interview with not a normal work resume, but rather my own food cookbook that I had created with pictures of the dishes I had prepared, along with recipes. My love for food and cooking still plays an important role in my life, which I will further elaborate on as well. Balancing full-time studies and a job was definitely not an easy task, I quickly learned the importance of organization, time management, and efficiency. I worked in the food industry for three years, and this job has taught me so many life lessons I knew would be applicable in any other job I would take up next and of course life in general. These three years that I worked in restaurants taught me the importance of patience, interaction, and communication. I started my college journey in 2013, majoring in Management Information Systems and shortly after began a part-time job at a Financial firm alongside. Being in restaurant surroundings, I transitioned into an office environment which more or less was very similar to my previous jobs.

In addition to college, jobs, and cooking, another one of my hobbies include dancing! Along with being a full-time student and working I part-time job, I joined my college’s Bollywood dance team. This was the epitome of my college experience as we traveled the country to compete in competitions and became a very tight-knit family. After four years, I graduated from college and the grind has never stopped since. The life lessons I learned as a hostess at 16 years old are the same lessons I apply at my job today as a Business Intelligence Analyst at Golden State Foods. Furthermore, my dance journey has not stopped. and is continuously growing! I currently teach Bollywood dance to students at Adaa Dance Academy, which is a renowned dance academy based in Orange County, California. In addition, I continue to kindle my cooking passion and have created my own food and lifestyle blog called ZaikkabyJuhi that displays all my food pictures, recipes, and restaurant reviews. I aspire to keep working and keep growing my food portfolio and one day publish my own cookbook that specializes in healthy vegetarian food!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has never been a smooth road, but every hurdle that came along my way has taught me an important lesson in my life! I’ve learned that through positivity, perseverance, and confidence, anything and everything is achievable! I’ve been very blessed to have supportive family and friends that guide me in what I do and in the decisions I make. Whether it’s a career change or a desire to grow my food passions, they have always been there in my highs and lows. My parents had given me the freedom to chose my own career path and have also been supportive of my hobbies, therefore it made things a little easier for me. In terms of my career, it’s not easy to find a job that one enjoys going to every single day, and I am blessed to say that I love what I do and look forward to making a difference through my work. In terms of cooking, I started off not even knowing the difference between basic ingredients, to now getting recognized by renowned chefs on Instagram. Having said that, whether it’s my job or my hobby, I’ve never looked back and always looked forward, and I am continuously finding ways to better myself.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
What began as observing a routine my mom performed in our kitchen daily, soon turned into a passion I will pursue life-long. Coming from a traditional upbringing and a tight-knit family, I admire my mom’s principles of providing the family with a fresh, home-cooked meal despite her forty hours spent outside the house. Not only does cooking play an essential role in our family, but exploring ethnic cuisines has also diversified my outlook of our society and its various cultures. As my interest in cooking continues to grow, I infuse ingredients popular in different cultures to create a singular dish with a mélange of various flavors and spices. I await weekends and special occasions to experiment new dishes and present my family with an original creation. Cooking is not only a hobby but also a stress buster. Coming home from work after a tiring day, I look forward to entering the kitchen and playing around with various ingredients to make myself a hearty and healthy meal. I simply enjoy crafting together ingredients because cooking has sparked creativity in my life. A large part of my free-time revolves around the clashing of ladles and spatulas and the sizzling of shallots and garlic. Because of my interest, I started my own food blog on Instagram.

I am known for my dishes of course, but something that sets me apart from others is that I go out of my comfort zone. I don’t like to stick to the basic, I like taking up challenges and conquering them through tasty foods. As a child, I always preferred watching Food Network over Disney Channel, and as an adult I continue to follow and get inspired by chefs all around the world. Something I am proud of is my growth over the years. Early on in my food journey, I never really believed in food presentation or innovation. But, now I have learned that there are three important principles in cooking that a good cook should always live by: presentation, thought, and taste. Therefore, I now spend extra time in making my end product look appetizing for the eyes and camera, and try to use unique ingredients as much as possible!

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
I believe patience and persistence is everything in order to again success. It really takes time and dedication in order to achieve success, whether that’s for a hobby or a profession. I strongly believe that everything takes its own time to happen, and it is also very important to have a positive attitude. I started cooking when I was 14 years old, and now I am 25! I can see DRASTIC changes in 11 years, and I absolutely know that in another ten years, when I am 35, I will be even better in what I love to do.

Contact Info:

  • Email: juhidalal_22@yahoo.com
  • Instagram: @zaikkabyjuhi

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