Please tell us about yourself
My name’s Madhura and I’m a twenty-one-year-old hospitality graduate from IHM Mumbai, India (BSc, Hospitality) . I’ve been madly in love with food for all my life and have been studying to become a professional chef for the last three years.
What did you want to do next?
Ten months ago I started writing my letter of motivation for my dream culinary school. I had it all planned out. Getting done with my undergrad, enrolling at a brilliant culinary school abroad, learning how to make gorgeous food for the next nine months, and then being married to the white coat for the rest of my life.
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However, my letter of motivation seemed a little too drab for someone who was so certain about their future. The 500-word long essay was laced with every possible synonym for ‘passionate’, yet lacked a little something. That’s when I realised that the commercial kitchen wasn’t really my calling.
How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and interesting career?
But was it even possible? To do something with my love for food at this point, besides being a chef? To my surprise, it was! From food writing to food anthropology, I sifted through course after course. I moved to the hemisphere of food science only a while later. I started looking into nutrition, product development, quality/safety management, and related fields. I zeroed down on food quality and safety because I found this multidisciplinary field (which is still in its infancy as an independent field study) to be very interesting. Studying about the economics, law, and science of food somehow seemed like the perfect thing to do.
I got down to writing a letter of motivation once again. This time around, I chucked aside the thesaurus and put down a mighty good, heartfelt essay. I applied to four universities and waited for what seemed like a lifetime to hear from them.
I was beyond thrilled when I got an acceptance letter from Wageningen University. I mean, what could be better than studying at a university that is ranked as the best in the WORLD for agriculture related sciences? I hadn’t thought it was possible even in my wildest dreams!
A lot of people questioned my decision about moving to the Netherlands for pursuing a postgrad degree; probably because it is not really a popular destination among Indian students. It was tedious to explain, but everyone who enquired was fed with some mind boggling statistics about how such a tiny country manages to be the second largest exporter of agro products in the world. The ‘do more with less’ philosophy of the Dutch intrigues me beyond words!
I began my MSc in September and I am very excited (and nervous). I’ve been inconspicuously sliding into the inboxes of alumni to enquire about the university and the Dutch way of life (hey, a girl’s got to do her homework) and I really hope that the amazing things I’ve been hearing are all true. Fingers crossed!
Tell us about your internships
EUFIC is a non-profit organisation that offers accessible, appealing and actionable science based information on food and health to empower consumers to make better decisions about their diet and lifestyle.
I work in the capacity of a food safety communication intern at EUFIC. I apply my knowledge about food safety, law, and communication to develop material that helps consumers better understand complex food safety related issues. My main project here focuses on organic food production in the EU. I also assist with communication and dissemination activities related to various EU funded food projects such as Protein2Food, Oleum, and Strength2Food.
For my MSc thesis, I worked on a project titled ‘Business Accountability for Human Rights Violations in the Assam Tea Industry’. It was an empirical and exploratory thesis, carried out using research methods in law and business studies. The aim of the project was to examine how international and domestic law can be applied to ensure that businesses sourcing tea from the region of Assam take responsibility for the human rights violations in their supply chains.