Monday, April 27, 2015

Natural sunshine welcomes you to the warmth of the JW.Marriott,Mumbai,Sahar. Elsie Gabriel

Natural sunshine welcomes you to the warmth of the new JW.Marriott,Mumbai,Sahar.

                        Elsie Gabriel.

Crisp strong sunshine and warmth greet you as one walks into the JW Marriot Hotel Sahar, Mumbai.  Beams of light play with the suspended tear drop crystal chandeliers all across the multi labyrinths of the expansive front lobby. The hotel pays homage to nature and environment alright.

Visitors may be just likely to gasp when taking in the first glance of the hotel itself. Intelligently constructed to evoke the rays of the rising and setting sun, the shimmering all-glass window facades illuminate not only the entrance but your very senses.

Explains the Hotels G.M. Saeid Heidari, “We are glad to make use of the natural sunlight, not only saving electricity but also using the sunbeams to throw warm bright lights on the earthy theme used at the front entrance lobby. These rays render colors accurately, even to the point of intensifying the use of the chandeliers placed to welcome guests at our new hotel.”

Here at the hotel, direct lighting creates drama and fosters anticipation to discover the spaces within the hotel. Spanning more than 15 acres, the JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar is set to offer an unparalleled experience. Highly knowledgeable the globe trotting hotelier, Heidari, is a German by origin, has over twenty five years of  hospitality leadership with Marriott hotels across Middle East, Europe and now India, with the past three years as the General Manager for Renaissance Mumbai.

Continues Heidari, who has a good sense of humour and a very contagious energy level, which made the afternoon brunch at the in house exquisite Italian restaurant ‘ Romano’s’, a pleasure, “I hold two graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering and Law but fate has brought me to the hospitality industry . I am enjoying my experience here in India. Experience has taught me to never judge a book by its cover, we are always welcoming guests from all sectors of life with utmost respect and good service.”

Back in the lobby which has an extended coffee lounge, softer tones are echoed on the circling ceiling which resembles the ‘Queens Necklace’, an iconic landmark of the city of Mumbai. Filled with the energizing effect of intense hues, the opulent entrance invites me to the adjacent  JW CafĂ© which is an all day multi cuisine dining arena. Of course I will take you through that extravagant experience in my next naration,right now am still feeling the warmth of the natural sunlight!

It is amazing how the hotel uses sky light which is constantly moving, to capture different hues inside, this is cost effective and surely pays tribute to Planet Earth!



Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sipping Typhoo Chai means cutting carbon footprints! Elsie Gabriel


Sipping Typhoo Chai means cutting carbon footprints!

A single mature tree can absorb carbon dioxide at a rate of 48 lbs./year and release enough oxygen back into the atmosphere to support 2 human beings."
- McAliney, Mike. Arguments for Land Conservation, Sacramento, CA, December, 1993

Elsie Gabriel.


On Earth Day, we must commit to the challenge of supporting a growing global population while preserving precious soil, air and water resources. And the Apeejay Typhoo brand did just that! Healing flavors of environmentally-sustainable Typhoo tea has been termed as a green step towards cutting carbon footprints and preserving nature. Typhoo has announced the launch of the first globally certified environmentally sustainable teas to be marketed across India. The ‘Gold’ products  bear the distinct seal of the Rainforest Alliance. The Rainforest Alliance is a global non-profit that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods by transforming land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior.

This means that responsible food marketing in the country through this collaboration with Rainforest Alliance is all set to grab the attention of the ‘chai’ addicts in the country. India is synonymous with tea, it’s the common mans cure to health, bringing in zest and vitality; and ever so often than most of the time, its tea time for almost half the Indian population. Every gathering, every social association kick starts with Tea, so the marriage of good tea production certified by Rain forest Alliance heralds hope for ‘dharti’ here in India and most of all brings about healing touches also to planet Earth.

The amount of oxygen produced by trees depend on the species of tree, its age, its health, and also on the tree's surroundings. According to research, "a mature leafy tree produces as much oxygen in a season as 10 people inhale in a year." The more greenery encouraged in our country , the more carbon dioxide would be absorbed from the atmosphere, making India a leader in fighting climate change through more agriculture.

"Rainforest Alliance is one of the leading stalwarts in sustainable farming and environmental cause. It is a globally accepted seal which puts the stamp of authenticity. We are delighted to announce the start of our plan to offer certified teas pan India. Our certified products are aligned with the evolving consumer attitudes; their growing environmental concerns as well as mindful living linking consumption  and sustainability. With our products sourced from estates that have implemented stringent best practices as well as rigorous standards for the last few years and a certification seal now on our Product Packs, we seek to spark a debate on the connection between Climate, Community, Consumption and Consumers.”, said Subrata Mukherji, business head, Typhoo's India operations.  “Consumers are going to be key driver as long as we are taking the responsibility of educating people regarding environment, Mukherji added.

Sustainable agriculture will protect India’s environment, biodiversity, waterways, wildlife habitats and the rights and well-being of Tea plantation farmers, workers and  their families as well. “We ensure that our farmers replenish the soils with natural manure and the decisions they make with regard to agricultural production influence surface and ground water, air quality, and soil health positively.” Explained Harki Sidhu,Consulting Programe coordinator, India.

Dominique Gangneux, Vice-President, Markets Transformation, The Rainforest Alliance said, “It is hugely progressive and commendable of Typhoo to bring a suite of products to the market that carry the Rainforest Alliance green frog seal. Committing sourcing tea from Rainforest Alliance Certified tea estates and to display the Frog seal so prominently in its luxurious as well as premium popular brands gives consumers confidence that the tea they are buying has been responsibly sourced.”


India sure does have a growing community of socially conscious consumers who want to purchase brands that enable their commitment to a more sustainable world. Said Ashok Batra, Consultant Markets transformation and Sustainable values Rainforest Alliance India, “Farmers, after all, are stewards of acres of precious land. Typhoo has acknowledged the fine conservation work done on acres of land and enabled these farmers to acquire the technologies and tools they need to make best use of their land. We must educate the community in gaining knowledge about products which contribute towards sustainability.”

As the water and land needed to produce food become more and more limited, it is essential to examine all the opportunities that will renew the resources that keep our earth strong, thriving and plentiful. Like the Media guru Bachi Karkaria said at the launch, “ It is not enough just to be a green brand to be featured in the papers, it is how much positive difference you have made in promoting sustainability and in what quantum that get one media attention. Media then surely shares its responsibility in promoting sustainability.”

This Earth Day, we should all commit to making personal changes that can help the environment, and give thanks to the farmers for the work they do. I believe that farmers are true ecologists.Congratulations, Typhoo!

“Elsie Gabriel a world wide travel,lifestyle and ecology writer, she is also a Climate Reality Mentor. She is founder of the Young Environmentalists Programme Trust an NGO dedicated over the last two decades in educating the youth and community on sustainable living,Climate change,environment education and green living habits as a certified green teacher.She is also an award winning author of the book called Get Out Get Going Outdoors . The Climate Reality Project is an organization involved in education and advocacy related to climate founded by Al Gore,the former VP of USA."

Friday, April 24, 2015

Come away enriched with lessons of culinary history with Chef Sandeep Pande.

Come away enriched with lessons of culinary history with Chef Sandeep Pande.

Elsie Gabriel.

 Many of our Indian cultures contain expressions of gratitude and thanksgiving; and celebrating the  ‘Baisakhi’ festival at Nawab Saheb, at the Renaissance Powai was extraordinarily enriching. The food festival gave thanks for all the offerings Mother Earth has bestowed on us, being treated like royalty on the eve of Earth Day was a blessing one can not forget easily.

 A wide variety of grains, vegetables, herbs and nuts go into the breads and food items from the various country farms to celebrate the seasonal festival of life on earth. The Nawab Saheb showcased just that and much more; as Executive chef Sandeep Pande took us on a journey of culinary research. In the world of sleek celebrity chefs and master chefs, his down to earth knowledge sharing about the rustic lanes and villages of Punjab which actually gave rise to the festival, was a relief. Chef Sandeep traveled into the inlands  and farms of the Punjabi villages collecting resources, masalas, know hows and ofcourse culinary lessons himself.He has hand picked the combinations and earthy recepies.

When you hear Chef Sandeep Pande speak, you want to listen, his deep research treats the epicenter of ‘food’ as a medium to connect with people. It is a culinary journey of his explanations that lead you to respect and savor every bite that his offerings set the table for. And then you realize once again, that it is the medium of food that binds us all together on this planet after all.

And he’s had excellent success. His dynamic makes him an intriguing food expert, and a good source for understanding what festival food is all about.And why we all should care to celebrate the harvest of life at the beginning of the solar year.  

Of course, he downplays the whole thing. His gourmet journey began with the Oberoi group and then he collected world class culinary experience from the Far East , Middle East and the European world to come back to India . He excels in Mediterranean, Indian, Thai and festival food. Chef Sandeep Pande was also involved in milestone gourmet dates abroad like hosting MICE Functions, conducting international food festivals, and trained in Michelin starred cuisine restaurants. Chef Sandeep Pande obtained his Masters in Hospitality Administration from the Cornell School of Hotel Administration after completing his Post Graduate Diploma in Kitchen Management, and Diploma in Hotel Management and Catering Technology. He is also a senior member of the UAE Culinary Guild and a member of the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals, USA.

The Nawabi food is served through out the year so indulge. Relish the dishes once prepared for the Indian Nawabs . Indulge in the dishes like Dum ka Murgh,Biryani Oudhi and Dal Khaas Nawabi.Ofcourse I loved the huge Achari lobster,Jhelum ka jheenga, Amritari machli with many vegetarian offerings like Jalandar de tikke, Sarso da saang,Missi roti and lachcha paratha.

During ‘Baisakhi’ the farmers give 'thanks' to the creator for their fortune and pray for a better crop the following year. I enjoyed the 'Baisakhi di Raat' at Nawab Saheb at Renaissance Mumbai Convention Centre Hotel & Lakeside Chalet Powai, you should try the gourmet journey too.

I, for one, came away rich with the Akshay Tritya celebration sweet desserts, sprinkled with gold and silver edible leaves, another parallel festival being celebrated at the Lakeside coffee shop on the same floor.  Meet chef Sandeep Pande and come away educated with many lessons in culinary history. He is not only a powerhouse of gourmet journeys but an excellent chef!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Building bricks from renewable raw materials-The BOHECO Boys!Climate Change fighters in their own right.Elsie Gabriel


Building bricks from renewable raw materials-

The BOHECO Boys!

Climate Change fighters in their own right.

Elsie Gabriel

We all talk about sustainable building materials, eco friendly crop based materials contributing to  low carbon emissions but the BOHECO Boys walk the talk; and talk the walk, literally through Hemp….

I believe these boys originally from the H.R.College of Commerce Mumbai have come a long way. And how! So, if you must know Hemp is a crop, a very domesticated crop, used since time immemorial for everything from food, clothing, rope, paper and plastic to even car parts. Research has outlined that hemp is incredibly versatile and can be utilized as cooking oil and cosmetic products as well.

So how are these boys climate change fighters in their own right? Well, for one, they provide relief to the atmosphere by researching and conducting a new green economy rather than invest in an already established polluting easy job, they  uplift socio-economic standards of local farmers, identify and utilize the untapped value of natural geographic advantages. In a time of high unemployment, they have endorsed that hemp could provide farmers green jobs, motivating cultivators to keep growing this ancestral crop, and most of all producing biodegradable bi products from Hemp which contribute to  environmentally sustainable industries, thus fighting global warming and climate change.

The need for crops and plants to grow, for trees and healthy cultivation to continue has never been greater. Given all of these benefits these boys are surely true environmentalists.

It is also believed that the Hemp fibre requires very little water to turn into cotton cloth. That’s cutting production carbon emissions by half already.

 The BOHECO boys are still researching on a variety of low carbon building materials from Hemp. As well as reducing the environmental footprint, Hemp will be stronger than steel they believe.It was the first time ever I saw the Hemp bricks.Hopefully these will contribute to more sustainable green buildings.

“Hemp plastic is completely biodegradable and let's the Earth breathe,” Says Jahan Peston Jamas co-founder of  BOHECO,  India’s first industrial hemp company which now works with the Indian union and state governments to reform the agriculture industry with natural fibres, Adds Jahan,“Hemp can be used to make nearly 25,000 products including textiles, oil, milk, paper, biodegradable plastics, tofu, flour, protein powder, bio-fuel and construction material.”
I have known Jahan as a school kid, winning the trophy for his school at a tough debate competition,ever since he rocked the stage and shook the audience with his powerful articulate deliveries, I knew this boy would go far.Ofcourse Sarla Jamas, his Mother is his true motivator and guides all the BOHECO boys through thick and thin,sharpening their skills to continue being strong professionals.  


 Team BOHECO is presently composed of  seven full time co-founders and first generation agri-entrepreneurs,  with undergraduate, post graduate and PHD academic qualifications, they are a very enterprising lot.

Master Chef Vicky Ratnani cooking with BOHECO Hemp oil.
BOHECO began with handloom fabrics but today the Hemp Couture is actually BOHECO’s in-house fashion brand. Now they work with local industry and farmers to manufacture innovative agro-products for pharmaceutical, construction, energy, paper, food,cooking oil, textile, lubricants, automobile, oil and cortage industries from the industrial hemp crop and now are working to use this model pan-India for poverty alleviation, empowerment and rural development.

 Educate. Cultivate. Elevate’  is their mission statement, they are green advocates in every sense.

 Research shows that Henry Ford spent more than a decade researching and building his Model-T car which was not only constructed from hemp but was also designed to run off hemp bio-fuel? These BOHECO boys are here to stay, and carry on the legacy of Hemp which I believe, Ford would have saluted them for!

The BOHECO boys make a safe, strong and clean future for the environment, always researching and developing. Well this year 2015, on April 22nd which marks the 45th anniversary of world EARTH DAY , the BOHECO boys could not have paid a better tribute to planet Earth!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Underprevileged kids eat at Eagle Boys Pizza as Sweetza comes to town! Elsie Gabriel

                                   Eagle Boys Sweetza comes to town! Shares pizzas with special kids!

Ever dreamed of the perfect chocolate dessert pizza on a date night at home?? Well now you can simply order home the newest gourmet delight to hit the city with Eagle Boys Sweetzza’s. You can opt for guilt free indulgence as the dough is so fresh and ingredients locally bought. Less carbon footprints involved in every bite. Pushpa and Gaurav Uniyal at Primerose Lake Homes main road, Powai offer the freshest vegetarian pizzas with exquisite variations for those who don’t venture into meats. They offer vegan pizzas too, simply ask. But you have to try the choco Pizza, an all gooey, chocolately and lip smacking affair, well now that I have got you drooling, you simply have to try it, one single bite can be heavenly! The dessert pizzas are a relatively low-stress dessert, and are wonderful for large crowds and parties.

This Australian owned and operated network brand began as a single pizza store in New South Wales and has grown to become one of Australia’s largest pizza makers and now reaches out to India.

The network takes pride in offering a variety of products including gourmet pizzas, gluten-free, low fat and healthy options. A growing number of stores are now serving Halal accredited offerings.

I opted for the Country side Veg Pizza and the Hawain delights, which were light and easy for an early dinner. There are loads of other pizza recipes out there just awaiting a hungry audience. The electric oven the outlet uses here at Powai uses low consumption, again treading gently on the power conservation. In about flat 3.5 minutes a pizza is out of the over, using no oil at all, all pizzas here are baked.

What makes the Primerose Lakehomes Pizza center a joy to visit, are the people behind it.Pushpa and Gaurav are both bankers but pamper their passion in the gourmet world, by personally being involved at the pizzaria. Gaurav bakes without battering an eyelid and supervises every flake of ingredient that goes into the pizza, its the passion for excellence which eventually gets a top class pizza on your plate. Pushpa is an entrepreneur who has dived into pizza making, fully confident that this is the pizza world which makes the world go around for kids, and good healthy pizza can also be fun.

The tomatoes and chicken penne is surprisingly classy and served hot with a good portion. Of course the new dish which is to die for is the baked vegetarian scrolls, sublime with zero calories, well almost, try it!

I am not a big fan of pizzas of any kind,coz I dread the cheese,ofcourse its a persoanl choice which comes with one's personal diet plan and age; but believe me I came away a convert!
It was wonderful to launch with some special children from the underprevilged society to come and taste the pizzas.The young always like pizzas and Eagleboys made the summer holidays special.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Lent and Climate Change….I believe….As Easter heralds new life...

Made Easter eggs at home, pass down the tradition...
Lent and Climate Change.I believe we have a lesson here.As Easter heralds new life, reflect on the carbon footprints we are leaving behind rather than focusing totally on simply fasting .Sacrifice and save electricity, curb food wastage, use less water, less paper, plant more trees even beyond the 40 days this season..
Mom donating food...

Its Easter this Sunday, I have already made my first batch of Easter Eggs for my children at home. As an adult Christian I willingly, on my own did give up some meals during the 40 days of fasting called Lent to eat at night mostly. But year after year as I grow older, I feel there is a deeper meaning to Easter as I age as a an older Mom now. Of course the children have watched me make the eggs at home year after year setting a tradition, am hoping that they will carry this on with fervor instead of buying the best brands available outdoors.But more than the curries, bunnies and Easter lilies blooming,which ofcourse is the essence of the festive celebrations alright, I would like to believe thats it is a time to reflect on our food habits during lent. It is a time to curb, restrain and develop self control, attributes which will go a long way in making us strong personalities later on in life. In a quick fix world and instant coffee age we can lead by example alone. We can not preach.


These 40 days of lent which get over this weekend, hopefully we have lost a few kilos but we can learn to curb food wastage. Most of us are incredibly fortunate to have access to such bountiful food and I feel the greatest way to show thanks and appreciation for it is to honour it by eating appropriately sized portions and tasting every bite. I believe,again its a personal choice,Fasting alone is not Lent—we must reflect about how much food goes into the garbage and landfills, so much methane gas is produced when it rotts, so much water and money goes into making that food, we can not control wastage in restaurants and parties but we can control wastage at home, to start with. Food wastage and climate change go hand in hand. The bigger the garbage bag ,the more carbon goes into the atmosphere. With people still dying in the recent flash floods when its not even monsoons here in India, what more proof does one need that climate change is for real.This is what lent is about, for me atleast so as you celebrate Easter again this year think if you have added to the global crisis of food waste or not.

Use your left over food wisely, recreate them into new dishes and dont be ashamed to serve small portions and take refills again, hand down the habit of food waste management this Easter and celebrate the spring festival with gratitude that we eat 4 meals a day when it is not Lent, Easter refreshes us and renews us, So think hard again, that we can not leave behind our food wasted footprints for the next generation to ape. Or have we sacrificed enough for Mother Earth our only Planet? Take a look around you and see,it is true that we can 'change Climate Change',through our Lenten habits! Happy Easter!!