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Humans of leap — Monika Manchanda
In 2009, Monika Manchanda decided to take a career break. Here’s how she went from being an engineer to a well-known food influencer.
“Food has always been a big part of my life, but my love for cooking only came later. My career started as an engineer. In 2009, the IT industry was going through a slump. Handshakes were being offered & I accepted a severance package. I was exhausted at the time. I had a 6-month-old baby & was working across 3 different time zones. I also suffered from postnatal depression. So I thought I’ll go on a 3-month break to see where the world takes me.
That’s where my serious exploration of food started. First, it was baking. I baked so much that my family would say ‘please stop, we can’t eat this anymore!’ After some time, orders started coming in. Then a café reached out & asked if I would supply them. Before I knew it, I was a proper home baker — supplying cafés & corporate clients.
It was a tough time in my life. Food really helped me ground myself. But I didn’t think I’d make a serious career out of it. I was also greedy. I’d had a taste of an IT salary & I missed it! Initially, I felt awkward about it. We’re conditioned to think that wanting money is bad — especially as women. That was something I wanted to rid myself of.
I knew that home baking wasn’t going to get me there. I considered going back to corporate, but just then, I landed a food consulting gig. A restaurant asked me to create a dessert menu for them — my 1st exposure to a commercial kitchen. I enjoyed it so much! I knew I wanted to venture out on my own.
I took courses to learn about food science. And then I became a full-time food consultant! As I was learning & experimenting with food, I also started blogging about it. It took off! Then came instagram & the influencer space.
Now I design menus for restaurants & work with brands to create recipes — as an influencer & beyond. I’m working on a recipe book with an international brand, for example. I’m also the co-founder at LiveAltlife, a startup focused on the reversal of lifestyle diseases.
My memories of life & of people are often intertwined with food. I think it’s because, early on in life, I was fed by people with so much love. I’m amazed at where this love has taken me!”