As women, particularly as older women who have followed the mainstream trajectory of life, we are often stuck in a very mechanical way of living, making decisions as a result of knee-jerk reactions, as opposed to heartfelt convictions. We forget, along the way, that all women possess an inner knowing, a sixth sense, if you will, that guides us towards finding our own freedoms and truth. A deep, intuitive energy that is wise and all-knowing but that we often turn a deaf ear to.
At 51, after having spent decades in oblivion from this intuition, I had the opportunity to reconnect with myself. I had an inner voice that guided me to break free from the monotony of the life I had created and instead, and to seek out the freedom and independence that comes from knowledge and studying.
Cooking was actually my true calling.
Ladies that attended my workshop found it to be a haven of joy, learning not just about food but also feeling inspired about exploring opportunities at the age of 51. As I grew more invested in these workshops, I began looking into opportunities to improve my own skills as a chef. “Mum, why don’t you go back to school?” my daughter suggested one day. Stunned, I looked into it and stumbled upon the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. At 51, going back to school with a bunch of young kids? Unfathomable. I was initially too shy to even talk about it openly. Having lived an entire life, what purpose could I now seek? At 51, I had a beautiful and brilliant daughter who is a New York Bar lawyer , a girl who makes me proud of myself as a mother. The world said that my duties as a mother had been well-delivered. Why figure a purpose when there’s no need to rock the boat? But I could not stop my inner calling and my inner restlessness guided by that universal power persisted. I knew that this was a step I had to take, I had to get out of my cocoon and explore the world of studying.
Back To School
Went back to school and training to be a chef. Returning to the classroom after 30 years was a nerve-wracking experience, but an exciting one, filled with curiosity and wonder. Not only did I have the opportunity to learn an entirely new set of skills, I also was able to live in and discover a new city, New York, on my own terms. It was the best thing that I had ever done for myself.
The experience taught me of the infinite limitations we place on ourselves, limitations that are simply stories we tell ourselves to avoid the hard task of listening to the knowing and discerning energy that we fundamentally possess. Yes, it is hard to listen to that intuition, because it often guides you down paths that you did not foresee nor can justify to nosy onlookers. Yet, this same intuition is an energy so primal and deep, that in its true power, it helps you break free from a limiting web, leading you into a whole new world. We are all knowing , all discerning women, and tapping into that energy unleashes a wisdom that allows you to live your truest life.
Discovering your Secret Superpower - Part 2
I tried to understand that restlessness and wondered if it was a desire to learn something new. And so I took up running. The desire to run a marathon had always been on my bucket list, so at 51, I began training and ran numerous marathons. I grew better by the day, won more podiums, and cooked delicious meals to nourish my body. Not bad at all, I thought. Running, at the time, surely brought a sense of purpose in my life. It was a sense of validation for my mental and physical strength. It brought a spring in my step, an endless joy, and deep confidence.
But it was only the beginning, that initial spark that built my confidence. It was the gateway to further self-exploration. As I cooked healthy meals to nourish myself for my runs, from salads to whole grains, I began becoming more interested in food. I had grown up in a family where food was synonymous to warmth and love, and since my early childhood had learned the basics of cooking just from watching my grandmother in the kitchen. Cooking had always come intuitively to me, and somewhere, I had taken this innate talent for granted. But now, through running I was able to reconnect to my love for food and cooking. Before I knew it, I was offering advice to fellow health freaks and aspiring runners. I began taking workshops and inspiring youngsters who otherwise hated cooking. I spoke about what I was experiencing – the energy of cooking one’s own meals, the fun of experimentation with ingredients, and one’s primal relationship with food. This was how I realized that food and opening my mind to the possibility was all it took to set things into motion. I got in touch with the school, sent in my essays, received acceptance, and before I knew it, was in New York!
It was too good to be true. My journey to the world of possibilities had begun, making me realize that for many years, I had perhaps ignored my innate gifts and instincts. All I had needed all along was my own permission for my life to take off.
Having trained from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York, Marina Balakrishnan is a certified plant-based chef. Marina’s gourmet sensibilities are rooted in her childhood in the Malabar, perfected by her technical chef training, and influenced by her work at various restaurants.
She has staged at GAA, an Indian-inspired Michelin star restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand, and has
also done pop ups in Geneva and Italy. She is currently involved in cheffing for private dinners and
her repertoire includes curating a three-course Ayurvedic menu at the launch of Ayurvedic product
Araqa at Foodhall, Mumbai and curating, preparing, and hosting a 27-dish Kerala sadya at Caara in Delhi.
Apart from her forte for cuisine from the Malabar, she is passionate about baking, experimenting and expanding her understanding of local and seasonal produce, reading and travelling.
She has been on the management team of Vinati Organics Limited since 2006 and balances the technical/manufacturing execution with her marketing abilities combined with new age aggression.