How This Mother-Daughter Duo Makes Magic in the Kitchen
We’re thrilled to partner with local mother-daughter duo, Anu and Anika Kumar, to bring you flavorful Indian-inspired dishes. Read about their shared passion for cooking, their favorite dishes, and their exciting experience on “Top Chef Family Style.”
Guest Blog by Anu & Anika Kumar
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Anika: I am 13 years old, a California native, love to cook, and I’m a rising 9th grader.
Anu: I am a software engineer and work full time. Born and raised in India; my husband and I moved to the US almost 23 years ago. We have two daughters and Anika is the younger one.
How did you both develop such a love and passion for cooking?
Anika: I started out when I was very young at just 4 years old. My sister was doing this cooking camp that was organized by the city and I wanted to join too. After that, I started helping out my mom with little things in the kitchen, like peeling and washing things. My real passion for cooking began when I was 7 years old and I signed up for a local cooking competition. I made it to the district finals and kept doing the competition and reaching the finals until 5th grade. I was also in the top 50 of “MasterChef Jr” in fifth grade. From when I was 7 to the present, I’ve been taking a lot of cooking classes as well as cooking at home a lot. And I’ve never looked back since!
Anu: I actually didn’t enjoy cooking as much. When my kids were little there was no Dinnerbell :). To ensure my kids were eating healthy and wholesome meals as well as to understand our own culture and upbringing through food, I ended up cooking almost daily. Over a period of time, I got better at managing my time but never got as interested in cooking until Anika came along.
What do you love most about cooking together, as a mother and daughter duo?
Anu: It started as more like helping. Anika started helping me when I was cooking but somewhere along the way I saw that she would really insist on doing things that I was not very comfortable letting her do - such as using a real knife and managing ovens and food processors on her own. I gradually opened up by giving her small chores, and seeing that she is able to handle bigger stuff. The tables started turning very soon as I saw that her ideas and experiments worked well and were liked by all. Whenever we are cooking together now – I am mostly the sous chef prepping and supporting Anika.
What are some of your favorite dishes to make together and why?
Anu: We really love making ice creams together. We also make some chicken dishes together. I usually stick to the Indian/Asian style of cooking but Anika tries to cook cuisines from all over the world. She always brings in certain twists to even the Indian dishes we make, which takes the same dish to a different level. I used to initially always resist when she drifted away from the main recipe but I have seen the results have been positive, so I trust her.
Congratulations on making top two of "Top Chef Family Style" Can you share a bit about your experience on the show?
Anika: Our experience on the show was so much fun! We got to meet a lot of really cool chefs and it is something I will never forget!
Anu: We did have a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Though it was really stressful for me at times, I saw Anika go all out and enjoy herself. It was a real treat to get to meet all those celebrity chefs and learn from them. I never thought that we would be able to make it so far on the show and was awed at times to see the depth of knowledge that Anika had in the culinary world.
What excites you about partnering with Dinnerbell?
Anika & Anu: When we learned about Dinnerbell we were really excited. We love this partnership as it is a way for our food to be tasted by people beyond our household. “Tasty” and “healthy” are the keywords at home and this partnership with Dinnerbell allows us to pass that idea along to the community. For example, raw jackfruit is not very popular in the U.S. but can be considered a meat substitute due to its stringy, meaty texture. A lot of people may not be aware of the relatively high protein content it has compared to some other vegetables. Dinnerbell’s philosophy of using local and fresh ingredients resonates with us and so we think partnering with Dinnerbell makes perfect sense.
Can you talk a bit about your inspiration behind the menu that you developed for Dinnerbell?
Anika & Anu: We wanted our menu to be something that we would enjoy at our homes. We also wanted to ensure that the dishes that we chose would be liked by people who have never been exposed to Indian food. Another thing we wanted in our menu was the uniqueness of items that you may not find in regular restaurant menus. We also thought of items like deconstructed samosas that can stay fresh even while being transported. The menu had to be healthy and is literally something that can be enjoyed on a weeknight. Most of all though, it had to be delicious!
We’re holding a fundraiser with your school, Fletcher Middle School, where Dinnerbell will donate 15% back to the school and customers will get 5% off of their orders using promo code FLETCHER from May 13 through June 10. Can you talk a bit about your school and its importance to you?
Anika: Fletcher is an amazing school with such an inclusive, tight-knit community. Everyone has been so supportive when I was on Top Chef. The teachers cheered and motivated me through every episode being aired/streamed. It is so heartwarming that Dinnerbell will give back to the Fletcher Community and share some food with them as well!
Check out the special Indian-inspired dishes that Anika and Anu crafted for our Dinnerbell Menu. Place your online dinner order today and have it conveniently delivered straight to your door so you and your family can enjoy a delicious sit down meal together! Remember to enter promo code FLETCHER to receive 5% off while supporting Fletcher Middle School, from May 13 through June 10. We currently offer homestyle meal delivery in Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, Redwood City, Emerald Hills, Redwood Shores, Stanford, and Mountain View.