Swati Elavia: Her Monsoon Kitchens Flooding Fine Indian Food for Foodservice and Retail Markets Across the United States

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Swati Elavia

BOSTON- You may be already buying Indian food at major supermarkets that are produced at Swati Elavia’s Monsoon Kitchens, Inc. In 2019, she received the “Small Businessperson of the Year” award for the State of Massachusetts and was proud to represent MA at the ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Ms. Elavia is President and co-founder of Monsoon Kitchens, a purveyor of fine Indian foods for foodservice and retail markets in the United States. Prior to co-founding Monsoon Kitchens, Ms. Elavia worked as a research nutritionist at General Mills in Minneapolis, at the Women, Infants and Children program in St. Louis and at the Hill Haven nursing home in North Carolina.

During her various jobs, she developed an understanding and appreciation for the food industry, its supply chain and the regulatory requirements that help create safe food products in America. She became passionate about combating hunger in the United States and has a deep empathy for the dietary needs of children and seniors. One of her goals for the near future is to create nutritious meals for Indian-American seniors.

Ms. Elavia was awarded the “Heroes in Action” award by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics in 2017. In 2019, she received the “Small Businessperson of the Year” award for the State of Massachusetts and was proud to represent MA at the ceremony in Washington, D.C. In 2021, she received the Distinguished Alumni award from the Department of Foods and Nutrition at M.S. University of Baroda.

She is an active member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, National Association of College and University Foodservice, International Deli, Dairy and Bakery Association and Natural Foods Association. At the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, she is also a member of dietary practice groups such as Vegetarian Nutrition, K-12 School Nutrition, Culinary Nutrition and Nutrition Entrepreneurs.

Ms. Elavia’s interests in the field of business are vast and range from innovation in food manufacturing, food safety, nutrition labeling, product design and marketing and nutrition education of foodservice management professionals. In field of Nutrition, she is most interested in women’s health, nutrition and weight management and chronic diseases. Ms. Elavia has completed certification courses in Weight Management in Children and Adolescent as well as Weight Management in Adults.

On March 6, Ms. Elavia will be honored as one of the 20 Outstanding Women of 2021 during the 18th Annual Woman of the Year Awards ceremony— to be held virtually this year. To buy a ticket, please click here.

Ms. Elavia was born in Agra, India and completed her high school education in Indore. She earned her MSc in Food and Nutrition from M. S. University of Baroda, India and Ph. D. in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

During high school, she threw shotput for her school track and field team. She was captain of the NCC (National Cadet Corp), in which she participated in her favorite activities of riflery, judo and para jumping. This experience compelled her to take calculated risks and develop fearlessness of the unknown. While in college, she took leadership roles including being General Secretary of the Faculty of Home Economics as well as the Food and House Monitor of her dormitory. She believed that the change only happens when one participates in the process.

Ms. Elavia lives in Boston with her husband and has three daughters and two grandchildren. Her biggest joy and pride come from watching her three daughters live their lives with joy, humility, and integrity. She loves to spend time with her best friend and the biggest supporter, her husband with his incredible sense of humor and wisdom. Ms. Elavia’s other passions are collecting cookbooks, cooking, traveling, knitting, embroidery, Bhangra dancing and visiting with friends. If Ms. Elavia were not leading a Samosa army in America she would be in the Indian armed forces.

Q/A with Ms. Elavia:

INDIA New England News: Please tell our readers about your work and what you enjoy most about it?

Swati Elavia: We create homestyle and wholesome Indian foods for foodservice and retail markets. In addition to managing the company, I most enjoy product formulation, customer interaction, innovation in food technology and packaging development. Promoting Indian food with chefs across America has become our mission. I love talking about the history, recipes and benefits of Indian food and ingredients to culinary staff of our customers. Daily, I love staying in touch with my team members, especially during the pandemic. I appreciate our human capital the most.

INE: If you are engaged with any charity or non-profit, please tell us why this group and what do you do for them?

SE: Stop Hunger Foundations and Doctors without Borders. I have made financial contributions and have had occasional assignments with the Stop Hunger Foundation. Unfortunately, the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic and heading a small business has limited the time I have to spend on these charitable organizations. I am hopeful that I will be able to dedicate more time to these groups.

INE: What are your hobbies and interests?

SE: Collecting cookbooks, cooking, traveling, embroidery, knitting, Bhangra dancing and visiting with friends.

INE: In what way you feel you have most positively influenced or served the local community and your company/organization and professional field?

SE: I have not spent much time consistently in the local community because of my travel schedule, but I have contributed to my field by doing cooking classes, seminars and webinars for customers and students to educate them about Indian foods, vegetarian diets, and nutrition labeling. Since we are a small company, I work closely with my team to develop their understanding of various aspects of our business, help them develop professional skills beyond their comfort zone and empower them to make decisions that are beneficial for them and the company.

INE: Your rare talent?

SE: Making face of Hanuman – the Monkey God; whistling.

INE: Your favorite books?

SE: Fountainhead, Pride and Prejudice, all cookbooks

INE: Your favorite quotes?

SE: “The way to get started is to stop talking and begin doing” by Walt Disney.

“A woman is like a teabag. You never know how strong it is until it is in hot water” by Eleanor Roosevelt.

“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game” by Babe Ruth

INE: Who inspires you the most?

SE: Julia Child and Kiran Bedi.

INE: Your core value you try to live by.

SE: Authenticity and flexibility.

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