Founder of everyone’s favourite, The Table, Gauri Devidayal on how she found her calling

THE TABLE of culinary dreams

She has switched careers, jumped countries and hopped on to the entrepreneurial wagon,
bringing her passion for food to fruition.
In conversation with Gauri Devidayal on what it takes to be your own boss, and follow your own dreams

On first glance she seems demure, but insightful. Look closely enough and you see a spark in her eye that ignites every passion and dream she has. From reading law at university to achieving a chartered accountancy qualification in London. From spending the next nine years as a tax  consultant with reputed companies like PwC and KPMG to today being on the way to building her own delicious food empire—Gauri Devidayal is a true inspiration. For those of you who do not know her, she is Isprava’s friend, and founder of everyone’s favourite South Bombay restaurant, The Table.

How did it all begin? “When I met my husband Jay, he was toying with the idea of opening a restaurant inspired by San Francisco— where he lived for 15 years. My involvement was supposed to be limited to helping him with all the legal and financial aspects. The next thing I knew, I got more and more involved in the business, and today he and I jointly run our F&B company which now includes: two restaurants, a bakery, a culinary event space, a catering business and a farm”. Talk about impressive!

But what’s really inspiring is the way Gauri loves being an entrepreneur. She truly embraces it, with all its positives and challenges. She quips,“The thrill of taking risks, making decisions and seeing them translate into a successful outcome is inexplicable”. Being your own boss, apart from the thrills has its benefits too: it means you can venture into endeavours outside your typical day to day work. Gauri did just that with her engaging pod cast show that she recorded last year: about the making of a restaurant. She also gets to spend quality time with her 6-year-old daughter since she can be flexible  about when and where she works from.

But entrepreneurship has its set of challenges too. And making a switch from the corporate, structured lifestyle can be daunting. “I think the biggest challenge about moving from being an employee to a leader is that the buck stops at you. Earlier I had a boss to fall back on. Now I am that boss. One has to continuously be energised to motivate and guide the others.” Leaders do delegate, but what Gauri quickly understood is that she needed to know everything about everything, even when she wasn’t doing everything herself. From HR to finance, accounting to operations, from business development to PR and marketing—it is a steep learning curve, even if it’s in an industry you know of or have worked in. And that definitely wasn’t the case for Gauri, who moved from the world of finance to the extremely competitive culinary space. “Although I worked long hours even in my life as a tax consultant, the long hours you work as an entrepreneur come from taking on so much more responsibility and financial risk.” Does working with your husband make it any better? “Of course it sounded like a fun idea since we were newly wed and we were happy to spend all the time in the world together. But it also meant that we never really switched off from work, and it could sometimes be a challenge to separate the personal and the professional.”

But if their flagship restaurant, The Table, is anything to go by—the power culinary couple are doing wonders! And it’s not just the amazing food and service, it’s about the entire experience that is promised to you from the moment you enter its doors. The Table was inspired by the food Gauri’s husband Jay was exposed to during the 15 years he lived in San Francisco. The idea was to create a casual yet chic space that momentarily made you forget where you were, and give you flavourful, ingredient- focused comfort food. Now it’s their ninth year of operations, and we think it is safe to say it’s won a place in the hearts of both seasoned and newbie foodies of the city. Besides its unique food and drink offerings which have always reigned in quality, it is the sustained sense of kind-hearted and intuitive hospitality that is one of the biggest reasons for the loyalty that has been garnered over the years.

When asked about travel—Isprava’s favourite topic, Gauri quickly replies, “It is one of the things Jay and I latched onto about each other  immediately—our love for travel. Most of our holidays revolve around food. We’re one of those couples, who as soon as the plan is made, and possibly even before flights and hotels are booked, restaurant reservations are on in full swing. Our travels have definitely inspired what we’ve done at our establishments, whether it is the cuisine, chefs who we’ve met and invited over, or the ingredients and even the crockery shopping!

Point noted. Our next trip is surely going to revolve around food! Is yours too?