Shefs at The Leela - A unique celebration of women chefs

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts in collaboration with Dean With Us presents the latest edition of ‘Shefs at The Leela’ – A unique celebration of women chefs

India, 13th April 2023: The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is delighted to host the latest edition of 'Shefs at The Leela’ in association with Dean With Us at The Leela Palace Chennai with 4 globally renowned women chefs - Neha Deepak Shah, Marina Balakrishnan, Adhira Swami and Tejasvi Chandela. On 21st April 2023, these 4 talented chefs will come together to curate an exceptional dining experience that will showcase a menu featuring their signature dishes with a global spin.

‘Shefs at The Leela’, a unique and innovative concept to celebrate women chefs was launched last year, in partnership with Dean With Us, as a platform to promote equity in the kitchens. It provides an opportunity for talented women chefs who have carved a niche for themselves to share their journey and showcase their talent through curated dinners, panel discussions, and special masterclasses to inspire young and budding women chefs.

The brand previously hosted two very successful editions of Shefs at The Leela at The Leela Palace Bengaluru and The Leela Ambience Gurugram. It also presented an exclusive curation of the concept as a run-up to Women’s Day with a 3-day long extravaganza at The Leela Palace Bengaluru. After the astounding success of the former events, the latest edition of Shefs at The Leela at The Leela Palace Chennai promises to be yet another extraordinary experience.

Commenting on the occasion, KM Chengappa, General Manager, The Leela Palace Chennai said, “Shefs at The Leela is a celebration of talent and skill. With a series of 3 editions hosted already, it has become a platform that appreciates the achievements of women chefs and builds a community to inspire, encourage and nurture diversity in our kitchens. The response to the previous events has been overwhelming and we are delighted to present the next edition of Shefs at The Leela, at The Leela Palace Chennai.”

Spread across 2 days, ‘Shefs at The Leela’ will open with a Masterclass by the Shefs on 20th April and will lead into a spectacular sit-down dinner on 21st April curated and serviced by an all women workforce. Led by the trailblazing women chefs - Neha Deepak Shah, Marina Balakrishnan, Adhira Swami and Tejasvi Chandela, an all-women culinary production and service team of The Leela Chennai will orchestrate this delightful evening which promises to be a mélange of flavors, cuisines and cooking styles and tells a powerful story of diverse backgrounds, experiences and learnings.

Shefs at The Leela 
Dates: 21st April 2023
Price: INR 4,999 plus taxes per person
Venue: Royal Ballroom, The Leela Palace Chennai

To reserve your experience, please contact: 
Sameer Bhargava
Mobile: +91 98339 38760 / +91 89398 98370



Food Technologist, Flavourist, Chef, Content Creator based in Dubai

With a degree in Food Science & Technology, Neha started her career with Dabur India Limited as a Research Scientist. This gave her an opportunity to work on brands like Real, Dabur Hommade. Later Neha moved on to working as a Flavourist with International Flavours & Fragrances. It’s a niche career space with less than 700 flavourists in the world (In the organized market) Here she got to work on some of the best global brands like Pepsi, Lays, Nestle, Britannia and many more.  She has spent a large part of her life growing up in Mumbai. Neha developed a love for cooking at a very young age, and with time her culinary passion evolved further. In 2015, she won the title of the First Runner’s up on MasterChef India Season 4. In 2017, Neha Co-founded Meraaki Kitchen & Café White Sage, a leader and innovator of the culinary space. Her Style of cooking is an amalgamation of cuisines across the globe. Later in 2022, she exited from the restaurant business. She had recently shot for 5 cooking shows: Jashn - e - Daawat (2 Seasons with 60 Episodes each) & Made in Gujarat (45 Episodes), with FoodXP & TravelXP with about 500+ Innovative vegetarian dishes. “With the Intent to create GOOD FOOD created from my best memories, I started creating content in April 2020 I believe that cooking brings you close to your soul, and my platform showcases the ease of cooking good food at the comfort of your home”, says Neha.
TRAINING HIGHLIGHTS: Dabur India Limited as a Research Scientist

Pastry Chef and a Chocolate Maker based in Jaipur
Founder of Dzurt Patisserie & Cafe and All Things Chocolate, Jaipur

(Dzurt is a patisserie situated in the heart of Jaipur city and has been running successfully for 9 years now).
(All Things is a handcrafted chocolate brand where they make bean to bar chocolates. She Co-founded the brand 6 years ago with her business partner Kuhu and since then they've been selling our chocolates pan India and have made customised chocolates for brands such as: Gucci, Burberry, Paul & Shark, MAC, Pero, etc.)

She always knew she wanted to be a Chef. The world of pastry was introduced to her much later. When she spent her university years in London, she got to try pastry in a much different way to what was being given to her in India back then. But once she was bitten by the Pastry bug there was no looking back. She has spent most of her schooling life in a boarding school, Mayo College Girls School, Ajmer. Post school she knew she had to get a culinary degree but, in those days, culinary schools didn’t have degree courses and so just to be safe she graduated from Royal Holloway University of London, UK and got a degree in Business Management. She got a lot of appreciation for her baking skills there and so post-graduation she did a course from Leith School of Food and Wine, London. That opened a lot of gates for her and she started believing that she was meant to be a chef. She applied to her dream school Le Cordon Bleu, Paris and got in. Later she came back to India to open her own Patisserie in Jaipur - Dzurt. 
Master’s in Chocolate Making from EPGB, Barcelona, Spain

Chef, Culinary Consultant based in Chennai

Having been raised by a family whose primary love language is food, Adhira spent most of her childhood perched on the kitchen counter watching her family prepare the most incredible dishes. To her, observing her family of versatile cooks, who could make an Italian meal as well as a traditional Tanjore rasam, was one of her greatest learning experiences. She was encouraged to cook at a very young age, spending most of her school days in the library where she read cookbooks cover to cover, or in the art room, engaging in mixed media and acrylic work. On pursuing her higher education at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago on a merit scholarship, she understood that she needed to combine her passions for both art and food in some way. She later enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu to pursue the prestigious Grand Diplôme at their London institute. Having refined her skills under the tutelage of their esteemed staff of Michelin chefs, Adhira graduated with superior certifications in both classic French Cuisine & Patisserie. She then moved to Spain to learn the fundamentals of Spanish cuisine, which has greatly influenced her style of cooking. On understanding the importance of nutrition through a Nutrition and Healthy Living program that she completed at Cornell University, she returned to London to pursue the Diploma of Patisserie Innovation and Wellness at Le Cordon Bleu, with the hope of integrating these evolving concepts back into her work. She continues to be a culinary consultant, while delivering creative and cultural dining experiences with a collaborative mindset. She is committed to learning and evolving her niche, while staying true to her love of art, culture and food.


During one of her projects as a chef in the Maldives, she developed a multiple course fine-dining French menu, as well as a dietary restrictions patisserie menu. She found herself gravitating towards recipe development, as she was able to use her love of both art and food to deliver creative culinary concepts and presentations, drawing from global flavours, contemporary European techniques and personal experiences, describing her niche as ‘borderless cuisine’. On returning to her hometown in Chennai, she began working as a professional culinary consultant by developing recipes for hotels, restaurants and pop-up dining experiences, with the goal of introducing new cuisine concepts through kitchen takeovers, ticketed events and culinary workshops, going on to break hotel booking records for her events.  

Certified plant-based chef, having trained from the Natural Gourmet Institute in New York. founder of Oottupura, a Keralite all vegetarian meal delivery service in Mumbai

Marina’s gourmet sensibilities are rooted in her childhood in the Malabar, perfected by her technical chef training. She has also worked on pop ups at New York with Marti Wolfson and Stefanie Sack, plant based health supportive chefs . She has staged at Gaa, an Indian-inspired Michelin star restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand under Michelin Star Chef Garima Arora. She is the founder of Oottupura, a Keralite all vegetarian meal delivery service . She has done several pop ups in India and abroad . In 2022 , she took the concept of traditional Sadya meals and did pop up in BKK at Here , a restaurant helmed by Chef Garima Arora . She also did her pop with Chef Ritu Dalmia in her restaurant Cittamani in Milan Italy . She believes that Keralite vegetarian food is imbued with rich and deep flavours . It is her endeavour to spread the beauty and flavour of this traditional cuisine all over.
CUISINE FOCUS: Vegetarian Keralite
TRAINING HIGHLIGHTS: Gaa, an Indian-inspired Michelin star restaurant in Bangkok


Food & Travel writer and culinary researcher, Independent Chef & Events Specialist

A trained hospitality professional from the Institute of Hotel Management Aurangabad, Akanksha Dean is the first and only Indian chef to train with Massimo Bottura at Modena, Italy; the top chef’s three Michelin-starred Osteria Francescana is still considered the best restaurant in the world. Travelling for local food and culture has taught her to develop a completely original perspective on everything, by rewarding innovation and fresh thinking. Akanksha recently won the Magicka Award for the ‘F & B Concept Curator Of The Year’, with ‘Shefs At The Leela’ being one of the highlights.

Award winning Journalist; Food & Travel Photographer; A Catalyst and an Events specialist

Awarded as the ‘Best food writer in the country’ by the Indian culinary forum, WACS and the ministry of Tourism Dean is a familiar name in Travel & Food writing. Her passion and work take her on various travels within India and across the world and her by-line is familiar to discerning readers of newspapers and magazines. Rupali recently won the Magicka Award for the ‘Top Food Influencer of The Year’.

About The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts

Headquartered in Mumbai, The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is owned by a Brookfield Asset Management-sponsored private real estate fund and operates eleven award-winning properties in major cities and leisure destinations across India. These include the flagship hotel in the capital city of New Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Udaipur, Jaipur, Gurugram, East Delhi, Mumbai, Gandhinagar and now Kovalam.  The Leela celebrates each hotel through its unique location, art, culture and cuisine with thoughtful services, celebratory rituals, and immersive experiences. The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts was voted the World’s Best Hotel Brand twice in a row by Travel + Leisure, USA, World’s Best Awards Survey, 2020 and 2021.  The brand is well poised to embrace the next phase in its growth trajectory with upcoming projects which includes a leisure resort in Ashtamudi in Kerala. An epitome of true Indian luxury hospitality, The Leela is committed to providing guests with unforgettable stays in settings that capture the essence of India. The brand has a marketing alliance with US-based Preferred Hotels & Resorts and is a member of the Global Hotel Alliance.

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Media Contacts:

Anjali Mehra