Taking the Plunge #3 // Guest posts by dynamic entrepreneurs who left behind everything they knew to follow their true passion. Stories of hard work, failures, friendships and full on love for what they do.
From the moment you step into Ministry of New, it's hard to miss the wafting smells of fresh espresso. If you follow your nose, you'll find yourself at our in-house café managed by Savor Experiences. Kanu Gupta, who founded Savor, started his career in finance before realising he had to follow his heart - and stomach! This is his story about taking the plunge.
"Moving from finance to the experience space has offered me the ability to savor every moment of this precious life. By making this move, I learnt first hand that it IS possible to do what you love, what gives you purpose and create real value in the world"
I was born in London and raised in the Middle East. My parents were avid food lovers who were perhaps the reason I started to think about food as much as I did in my life at all. We had two unsaid rules on the dinner table. One was that you had to try everything at least once, and, as a family, we never order the same thing on the menu! We travelled solely for food, and these experiences have fuelled my passion for what is now, luckily, my vocation. For us, every meal was an experience replete with stories about distant countries and wild ingredients. This communal quality of eating is where I discovered so much about my parents and later my friends who would host me at their homes. The dinner table has the power to slow down time, heighten your senses and lower your guard. I continue to believe the greatest form of travel is to be at someone’s dinner table. That’s how the idea of the Secret Supper Club (our underground dining club) eventually came about.
While I was working in finance at Goldman Sachs, I felt like I was a spectator in life's processes. I am forever indebted to the skills I gained during that decade but I am very excited to now be building a career centered around something that gives me profound meaning and purpose. When I was 27, I moved to Goa and worked in the kitchen of Lou Lou, a Belgian chef who owned a little four bedroom hotel in Aldona. It was here that I learnt about the art pursuing perfection. No detail is too small in creating culinary experience that your guests can immerse into. From the moment they step into your restaurant to that last wave goodbye, and hopefully long after -- after all we are in the memory business. We never repeated a single dish during my four months and each candle-lit dining table was a memory I will never forget. I think this is where I learnt how to focus, cook with produce around us, and never forget, a dish can never be better than it’s ingredients.
Today, Savor is led purely, and often to its disadvantage, by passion. We offer a vast menu of experiences ranging from the Secret Supper Project to the café at Ministry of New. This café is a place where we are able to experiment and interact with members on a daily basis. We work on weekly specials that range from Vietnamese to Rajasthani, and source local ingredients to prepare simple but wholesome meals. The café has also developed into a space where members come to hang out, connect and linger over a cup of coffee, or take a break and share a pizza with someone. It’s got a warm energy and communal nature, and is exactly the kind of space we are drawn to.
Moving from finance to the experience space has offered me the ability to savor every moment of this precious life. By making this move, I learnt first hand that it IS possible to do what you love, what gives you purpose and create real value in the world. We work with an incredibly talented team of chefs and artists to whose lives I feel we are able to bring a different creative dimension. People are always the key; our greatest asset and our biggest risk!
Before you go…
What are your top productivity tips?
Focus, break down goals into small tasks, be present in everything you do and for everything you take on - give it everything you have.
Three words that describe you?
I would rather provide this quote that is my life mission: “A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both." Francois Auguste De Chateaubriand.
What did you want to be when you were growing up?
Never really thought too much about it, but it was a doctor for a little while - but I wasn’t really worthy.
What are your daily rituals?
Early to rise, I think the best in the morning. Structure and discipline are key.
Three pantry staples you always have on hand?
Garlic, salad leaves and eggs.