This panel will examine the evolving convenience food industry with a South Asian twist.
Sukhi Singh: With humble beginnings in her grandmother’s kitchen, at the age of seven, Sukhi remembers recreating a dish after seeing it cooked “only once”. She never needed recipes and had a natural gift and passion for Indian cooking. Fast forward over the years and Sukhi is now a trained teacher, with her husband in the air force, traveling across India and learning first hand about the country’s diverse, regional cuisines. She spends time with families in their kitchens absorbing the culinary techniques and traditions of each region. In 1985 Sukhi moved to the U.S and expanded her teaching to the culinary arts. A natural entrepreneur with the support of her family, she began cooking in a rented kitchen and selling products at local farmer’s markets in the Bay Area. In many ways a classic immigrant journey — the entire family pitched in, demand grew, and a business was born. In 2005, Sukhi’s three children, who grew up in the family business, returned after years of following their own professions. Banding together they brought their collective expertise to grow every aspect of the business. As a result, Sukhi’s Gourmet products have flourished to the delight of people who love Indian food as well as those who are new to the cuisine. The family’s dedication is steadfast but remains true to Sukhi’s original vision of bringing flavorful Indian cuisine into the homes of people who love good food.
Payal Saha, Founder and CEO of The Kati Roll Company Inc.
Ms. Saha is the main force behind The Kati Roll Company, and its success is the direct result of her vision and perseverance. A Sociology graduate, she was a producer in one of India’s top ad-film production houses. When she arrived in New York in 2000, one of the things she missed most were kati rolls. Since none were available, she decided she would make her own. She went back to India to receive training in various kitchens, researched recipes, raised capital, and in 2002 opened the first TKRC store in NYC’s Greenwich Village.
Mani Krishnan: “Very rarely do people discuss the intricacies of making food. It is one such chance encounter with Dosa that resulted in the birth of Shastha Foods” says Mani Krishnan, a serial entrepreneur with four decades of experience in building global operations. He wanted to find a solution to the challenge of making Dosa Batter the traditional way, with consistent quality and taste, in a completely foreign environment. The experiments led him to create Shastha Foods Dosa Batter, a ready-to-cook product for busy homemakers that he now calls “24-hour effort in a 32 Oz. container”. His single-minded efforts during its early stages and ability to manage both production and marketing established Shastha Foods as a benchmark for quality in its field. Fast-forward two decades, Shastha Foods is the largest manufacturer of wet batters with more than 16 varieties sold across USA and Canada. The Indian Crepe batter is all-natural with no additives or preservatives and naturally fermented to maintain pro-biotic qualities. They are also naturally Gluten Free. Additionally, Shastha Foods caters to a wide audience with 500+ products, ranging from heritage and traditional rice, non-basmati rice varieties from all corners of India, Indian millet varieties, coffee, spices, and other daily essentials. These are sold through a large network of retail stores and E-commerce channels. His dream “to put Dosa on an equal footing with pizza and burgers” may soon become a reality through his efforts to enter the mainstream market and make Dosa a household name.
Moderator: Sanjog Singh spent her formative years in Mussoorie and the Doon Valley in Northern India. In 1987, Sanjog and her family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area, soon after, her mother Sukhi Singh started a venture, Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods with the help of the family. Sanjog got her an early introduction to the food business as part-time help in the family business. After finishing her schooling at UC Berkeley, Sanjog ventured out in the world of consulting and marketing, only to return in 2006 and join her mother full-time.
Sanjog Singh has spent the last 17 years in marketing at Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian Foods and seen the company through its transformation from a family-run business to a nationally recognized consumer packaged goods (CPG) company.
Beyond her professional engagements. Sanjog is a mom of two teenage boys residing in Berkeley. Sanjog finds joy in spending time outdoors, hiking or kayaking with her mini-dachshund, Simba.