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4 Indians in the world’s top 50 gastronomy gamechangers list

The '50 Next: Class of 2022’, unveiled in Bilbao, includes Risha Jasmine Nathan, Vinesh Johny, Anusha Murthy and Nidhi Pant

Chef Vinesh Johny, the founder of Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts, is part of the “Empowering Educators” list
Chef Vinesh Johny, the founder of Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts, is part of the “Empowering Educators” list

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Four young Indian innovators have been named among the world’s top 50 leading gastronomy gamechangers. The prestigious list celebrates the next generation of leaders creating sustainable solutions for the global food and drink industry.

The ‘50 Next: Class of 2022’, unveiled at the first-ever live awards ceremony in the Spanish city of Bilbao on Thursday, includes Delhi-based forensic scientist Risha Jasmine Nathan, Bengaluru-based Vinesh Johny and Anusha Murthy, and Mumbai-based Nidhi Pant. Singapore-born Indian-origin food entrepreneur Travinder Singh also makes it to the top 50 for his food tech start-up that turns food waste into beverages.

They join innovators selected from across 30 territories in six continents as the next-gen leaders of gastronomy. “My research, which I completed in New Zealand in 2020, was about using food and vegetable peels and converting them into beads, which could suck up heavy metals from drinking water,” says Risha Jasmine Nathan. The concept has made it to the “Science Innovators” category as a sustainable solution to tackle the issue of water contamination in the developing world. “My goal is to use the science of toxicology to work towards creating a safer and healthier world,” she says.

Also read: India’s top 10 young chefs

Nathan, who will be taking up a post of a lecturer at the Anglia Ruskin University in the UK later this year, is now researching the topic in more detail, hoping to change the lives of millions who still don’t have access to clean water.

Chef Vinesh Johny, who makes the 2022 class in the “Empowering Educators” category, is the founder of Lavonne Academy of Baking Science & Pastry Arts in Bengaluru, India’s first specialised international baking school. “The school is primarily trying to make sure that we get world-class pastry education for the students in India,” said Johny, who founded Lavonne 10 years ago.

He got into the culinary sector to do something skill-based, which was not very academically oriented. "I fell in love with the art of pastry making. Nurturing young talent in our industry by giving them practical and hands-on experience in the area of culinary arts, pastry making, and even sustainable methods of sourcing produce is of paramount importance,” he adds 

Also read: Making a case for pastry chefs in India

Also in the same category is Anusha Murthy, who along with co-creator Elizabeth Yorke is behind ‘Edible Issues’, a food collective that fosters conversation around the Indian food system via community engagement and workshops. Aside from the joint venture, Murthy is also building a cooking robot to help consumers eat more healthily.

The ‘Trailblazing Activists’ category of ‘50 Next’ includes Nidhi Pant, founder of S4S Technologies, an acronym for Science for Society, which has created an electricity-free, solar-powered food dehydrator that helps to alleviate vulnerable communities from hunger and helps farmers preserve crop yields. Pant’s technology is particularly directed at women, as S4S trains landless female farmers to use their machines and equips them with marketing and finance strategies.

A list rather than a ranking, ‘50 Next’ celebrates people aged 35 and under from across the wider food and drink scene to complement the annual rankings of ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’.

Also read: Meet the chef who has won Trèsind Studio a Michelin star

It is based on research by the 50 Next group and academic partner Basque Culinary Center (BCC), headquartered at San Sebastian in the Basque Country, an autonomous region in northern Spain famous for its culinary arts. “50 Next reflects the variety of profiles that shape the present and the future of the gastronomy sector,” says BCC General Manager Joxe Mari Aizega.

“50 Next is an inspiring and necessary event at a time when gastronomy and the entire food industry value chain is facing its own revolution. And we want that revolution to happen here,” adds Unai Rementeria, President of the regional government of Biscay. The list is now in its second year and the first to be unveiled at a live in-person event following the covid-19 pandemic lockdown.

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