Salima Moosabhai

Salima Moosabhai will be getting her Bachelor's degree from New York City College of Technology’s Hospitality Management program next June. A native of India, Salima talked to us recently about why she decided to go into the culinary field and what her plans are for the future.

James Beard Foundation: What made you decide to pursue a career in the culinary arts?

Salima Moosabhai: I must have been around five or six when I saw a hotel for the first time. (At the time we never had enough money for food, not to mention going out for a holiday.) But this hotel was being built right across street from where we lived near the slums. After it was completely built I urged my mother to take me there. She hesitantly did, but the doorman wouldn’t let us go inside. I started to cry, and just at that moment the hotel’s manager happened to pass by. He took us inside and personally showed us around the hotel. Since that day I have wanted to be a part of the hospitality industry, to make my mark by helping others just like that man helped me. The memory of his generosity made me pursue a career in hospitality.

JBF: Who has most inspired you to achieve your goals?

SM: My mother was born into an orthodox and rural Indian family and was never given an opportunity to get an education. However, that did not discourage her from sending me to school and helping me come so far in life. It is from her that I have acquired the courage to stand still in a blowing storm. She has given me the values of conviction, integrity, and sincerity. She is the one who inspires me to overcome all the obstacles in life and aim for my goals.

JBF: What do you plan to do after you graduate?

SM: Since my area of focus is management, I would like to become a general manager of a hotel. After graduation I would like to serve the hospitality industry with loyalty, dedication, and passion. I would like to fulfill my mother’s dream and the dream of all the women in India like me who get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to prove themselves to the world, and in return get a chance to do something and give back to society. Going to hospitality school is the best decision I have ever made in my life. I couldn't be happier.

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