Hospitality and F&B Consultant, Restauranteur, Author, Chef
Abhijit Saha is a Hospitality and F&B Consultant, Restauranteur, Author, Oenophile and Celebrity Chef. He is the Founder & Managing Director of Ace Hospitality & Consulting and has over three decades of national and international experience in the Food Service and Hospitality Industry. Chef Abhijit Saha was the coach and mentor of Team India for ‘Bocuse d’Or Asia-Pacific’ 2018; Guest Judge of ‘MasterChef India’ and continues to be the Senior Judge of Young Chefs Olympiad for the last seven years. In 2019, he was honoured with the Indian Federation of Culinary Associations’ (IFCA) highest accolade, the ‘Exceptional Achievement Award’. He has been featured as one of the most influential people in the Hospitality & Food Service industry by several prestigious publications in India.
Thomas is a chef with nearly 15 years of professional cooking experience, and arguably a lot more if you count the early start he got in his grandmother’s kitchen in Kerala. The first phase of his career was centered around European cuisine, starting out as a line cook at Le Bernardin, New York City’s famed three Michelin star eatery in 2009. But in 2014, a culinary expedition across India made him rethink his entire approach to food. He went on to helm the kitchen at The Bombay Canteen as Chef Partner, finding inventive ways to showcase indigenous ingredients through contemporary regional Indian cuisine. In 2022, Thomas decided to bring together some of his passions—storytelling, working with local produce, and nurturing connections between people within the Indian food system—and founded The Locavore to do good through what he knows best: food. Apart from chasing culinary adventures, Thomas also moonlights as a karaoke singer, and tends to his sprawling collection of house plants in his urban jungle of an apartment.
Food Historian, Raconteur, South Indian Culinary Ambassador
Rakesh Raghunathan is a South Indian culinary ambassador, whose vision is to showcase the rich heritage of the region to audiences across the world. He brings a unique perspective and experience of
the south Indian cuisine, while also seeking to turn the spotlight on the custodians of these traditional knowledge systems. A food raconteur, armed with a wealth of anecdotal history, and a deep insight into socio cultural practices, Rakesh has taken food to the
realm of the performative. His presentations are a multi-sensory and aesthetic experience with an element of romance and drama thrown
in, as he draws his audiences into a space where food and art converge seamlessly.
Arup, who comes from Assam, has worked as a professional chef for over 25 years in the hotel and restaurant industry. He worked primarily with the Oberoi Group of Hotels for 18 years and was the personal chef of Mr. P. R. S. Oberoi, Chairman of the Oberoi Group. He had the opportunity to don his chef’s hat for Mr. Mukesh Ambani and Mr. Ratan Tata, which are a few highlights of his career. Arup has traveled across the globe and is well-acquainted with global cuisine and culture.
Film Maker, Lighting Designer, Writer, Culinary Consultant
Jenny has done many things in her life from making films to making hand made paper and designing lights. She loves cooking and she travels to expolre food cultures and often writes on her food jouneys. She's published a cook book "Love to cook, Cook to love" in 2015 and was a concept and menu consultant for Go Native, a chain of organic food restaurants in Bangalore based on sustainable, slow food principles. Through all these meanerings, what's remained consistent is her interest in the environment and her for love Nilgiris, where she now resides.
Founder - Director, Keystone Foundation & The Nilgiris Foundation
Pratim Roy started his career at Development Alternatives, New Delhi. He founded Keystone Foundation along with Sneh and Mathew in 1993 where he works on advocacy, fundraising and organisational development. He developed the Keystone Programme in the Nilgiris with a focus on Conservation, Enterprise and Livelihoods. One of the key members of the Save Western Ghats Movement, Pratim is a Rockefeller Bellagio Residency Scholar-Practitioner in Italy and has done an Environmental Diplomacy Course in Geneva organised by the UNEP and the University of Geneva.
Nari Shakti Awardee, and Jamnalal Bajaj awardee, Sneh as she is known, is an authority on Livelihoods and Income Generation with tribal communities. She was founder of Non Timber Forest Produce Exchange Program, a South and Southeast Asian network. She dreamt and created steps for the People and Nature Centre. An economics honours master's degree from Lucknow University, set up a handmade paper unit in Delhi with marginalized women. Sneh has been instrumental in creating Keystone Foundation through programs, buildings, field centres and developing people. She believes in practice. Very keen on ecology, geography and the confluence of development and biodiversity. She has over 30 years of National and International experience.
Managing Director, Last Forest, Founder Director, Keystone Foundation
Founder-Director of Keystone Foundation, also the Managing Director of Last Forest Enterprises, a social enterprise incubated by Keystone. Was on the Board of International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movement (IFOAM-Organics International) for 2 terms. Was also a member of their International Committee on Participatory Guarantee Systems (PGS) which encourages the development and adoption of simple and different approaches to guaranteeing organic produce. Also part of the team to initiate the PGS in India, which the Govt of India now recognizes and promotes.
As a member of the Fair Trade Forum – India, oversaw the umbrella branding exercise of retail stores within the country. Last Forest is also a guaranteed member of World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO). Last Forest runs a chain of 4 stores and a Slow Food restaurant. On the Board of Slow Food India and continue to build links with this movement.
Advisor to Keystone Foundation & Aadhimalai (APPCL)
Robert has over 28 Years of professional experience in applying appropriate technologies in beekeeping, research, and implementation of sustainable & hygienic forest honey collection practices. He has been instrumental in training and capacity building at social enterprises on sustainable pre and post-harvest handling of NTFPS, value addition of honey, and beeswax. His passion is to design and incorporate rural technologies for pre and post-agriculture harvests, processing, packaging, and forwarding. He has also played a key role in promoting organic food farming among indigenous and rural communities including PGS India organic certification across the nation.
He is the recipient of the Sir J.C Bose life time achievement award by the Indian Science Monitor for his contribution to the fields of appropriate technology, reviving of traditional organic agriculture, and promoting apis cerana beekeeping
He was also shared the Sri Jamunalal Bajaj award in 2013 for appropriate technology for rural development by Sri Jamunalal Foundation.
Postdoctoral Research Fellow & Project Manager,
Dr. Harisha R P
Dr. Harisha RP is a conservation biologist at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and The Environment (ATREE). His primary interests include enterprise-based conservation, natural resources
management, sustainable livelihoods, documentation, and promotion of traditional ecological
knowledge (TEK). Currently, he is involved in invasive species management programs and working on Non-Timber Forest Produce (NTFPs) species research in MM Wildlife Sanctuary, Karnataka. He holds a Ph.D. in Traditional knowledge of wild foods.
He has published six peer-reviewed research papers in international journals, 10 Popular articles in Down to Earth and International Society of Ethnobotany Newsletter, Three book chapters in Taste of India, the indigenous food system in India. Two handbooks were published on NTFPS sustainable harvest methods and Forest Rights Act 2006. Publishing soon; a Coffee
table book on Future Foods.
Janagi began her journalistic career a little over a decade ago in 2007. Her assignments for Keystone’s monthly newsletter, Seemai Sudhi, take her to several neighboring villages-Attadi, Kodithurai, Mel Kuppu, Keezh Kuppu, Kozhikarai, Athipadiga, Bhaviru in Kozhikarai, Kunjapannai, Mandharai, Thudikarai, Vellarikombai, Sundapetti, Koovakarai, Kakagundu, Arayur, Aanakunji, Kovilmattam, Banagudi, Kallur, Anil Kaadu, Pacha Kaadu, Pudhur. Janaki walks to all these villages, most of which are difficult to access for outsiders. Sunshine or rainfall, she makes her rounds to these hamlets, talking to villagers, memorizing the places that require street lights, electricity or roads that need fixing. Keystone began its community newsletter Seemai Sudhi in 2007 to cater to adivasi folks living in the Nilgiris. The monthly editions carried news from neighboring villages and served the purpose of bringing the community together. Although successful initially, the newsletter is currently a tri-monthly. When it was started, Seemai Sudhi had 22 women reporters and 8 male reporters. It currently has only 8 women reporters, including a 12-year-old girl. The foundation also has its own radio channel – Radio Kotagiri – that hosts interesting shows ranging from farming techniques to healthcare and other awareness programs. Janaki amma has been a part of Seemai Sudhi since the beginning. Janaki’s community- the Kurumbas -are known for their healing powers and their knowledge of sorcery. Janaki’s knowledge of forest medicine is also helpful during her trips. People come to her for small ailments, and pregnant women often seek her advice. Janaki also encourages people to visit a healthcare centre instead of ignoring certain illnesses. She also acts as a messenger between hospitals and villagers, keeping tabs on child births. She also informs mothers about vaccination drives, makes a mental note of water woes in the villages and passes on her knowledge of concocting medicine from herbs.
Malliga hails from the Irula community. She started as a worker at Aadhimalai and went on to become a coordinator for the Pillur region in the NBR where she manages official meetings, and gatherings of community people, and supports procurement. She also contributes her time to FRA work. She's a political activist.