Why a Michelin-star Chef quit his fancy job to become a Software Developer

Ashish Huddar has a Bachelor of Science in Hospitality from Pune University. He would work part-time jobs in Pune as a Chef. College hours would be from 8AM to 4PM and then he would go cooking at a Cafe from 6PM to more often, late midnight. He even bagged an internship at ITC Maratha Hotels in Mumbai.

Masai School Ashish Huddar

“I had learnt a great deal from their chefs and how a 5-star hotel or kitchen runs. I was in Bangkok for an internship, and I also went to Denmark to work at the popular Noma Restaurant, a michelin-star worldclass Scandinavian restaurant.”

But the fanciness in this life didn’t entirely suit this 23-year-old Chef who is now a software developer.

Tryst with the kitchen

Ashish Huddar comes from the southern part of Maharashtra. He works as a Software Engineer at Bengaluru-based IT Sales acceleration company Zomentum.

He was a big-time sports enthusiast and still plays Badminton everyday. His parents were both working. Ashish’s father is a retired Central Government employee and his mother a school teacher. Him and his elder sister had plenty of time to kill at home, so he would try his hand at cooking and picked up interest by taking up some challenging recipes.

Towards his 11th and 12th, he started to pursue culinary arts and would end up practicing and experimenting with different recipes after his 12th. Ashish eventually became a Chef and made it to the league of restaurants and hotels. But it wasn’t a fair and easy ride either. First, his parents were reluctant of his decision to become a chef, and insisted he become an engineer. Ashish however already made up his mind and wanted to go ahead with his decision regardless.

After working at Noma in Denmark, Ashish returned back home to Mumbai and picked up a job at a restaurant which shut down due to COVID. He later ran his own business for a little while and learnt everything in continental cuisine. But Ashish was already restless by now. Having tasted success first-hand as a chef, at some world-class hotels and restaurants, he learnt that it comes with its own fair share of challenges and hiccups. He asserts that the job could get really stressful with long hours and work-life balance was never there.

Since he now had time on his hands, he wanted to switch careers and move to doing something more meaningful and keep himself intellectually active.

Ashish goes on to say that he had software development at the back of his mind for quite some time where he felt he could apply and use his brain and put it to problem solving. He wanted work-life balance and a place where he could challenge himself intellectually. The family wanted and expected the same from Ashish eventually and they were more than happy to have heard his decision to become a software developer.

In his pursuit to become a developer, he started researching coding bootcamps all over. Ashish recalls the bootcamp revolution in the west and how it has just hit India as well. Besides, for Ashish, there was no other option since he wasn’t a typical engineering graduate and coding bootcamps was his only alternative.

Life at Masai School

“More than anything, I knew I was a lazy guy. I needed some kind of discipline in my life and wanted to take my life more seriously. So it was a great platform for me personally. I had my doubts initially since this was an entirely new career path for me. But the staff at Masai reassured me that all I needed was the skills, the attitude more than degrees.”

What really attracted Ashish most was the military-style coding curriculum (9am to 9pm for 6 days a week). He got on a call with Cofounder and SVP Yogesh Bhat and felt that the system was serious enough and it was the right place for him.

Ashish took the Full Stack Web Development full-time course where he had learnt HTML, CSS, JavaScript, MongoDB, ExpressJS, ReactJS and NodeJS, apart from Data Structures and Algorithms.

“Some people may feel the faculty would take things faster than they should but believe me, the instructors knew exactly what they were doing. They are very helpful to the students whenever needed. Whenever I had a doubt, the instructional associates were there to rescue. They would never give you a direct answer to any of your questions but would rather put you in the right direction of thinking so you would find the answer yourself.”

Towards the end of his time at Masai School, Ashish was pleasantly surprised to find himself a job offer almost immediately after the course. He is now a Software Developer at Bengaluru-based Zomentum. The salary he now makes as a developer comes with more than a 100 percent hike, in contrast with what he was making in the hospitality industry.

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