‘You set up a hypothesis and then come at it from different angles’

Breaking down his larger ambition into smaller goals allowed cookbook author and recipe developer Nik Sharma to understand the skills he needed to build a career in the food world.
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Nik Sharma used to be a molecular biologist, cooking on the side after long days at work. He didn't immediately try to become a best-selling cookbook author who weaves food science into recipes, which is exactly what he does today. Instead, he began setting goals for six months to a year at a time, to test if he was on the right track.

‘One of the things that you're taught in science is that you set up a hypothesis and then come at it from different angles, to see if you get the same answer. With my cooking, I try to apply the same approach,’ he says.

He started out setting small, specific goals that would help him build the skills and résumé necessary to develop a career that stood out in the crowded food world. Once his food blog, A Brown Table, began gaining traction, he decided to get professional kitchen experience in order to be taken more seriously by readers and experts.

He took a part-time job working at a patisserie. There, he realized that good photography was key to standing out, so he worked for a food business, photographing chef-prepared meals and learning how data analytics could provide insights into impactful images. 

He wanted to write for major food publications, but he knew that they'd be looking for published work beyond his blog, so he began writing for local media outlets. This attracted the attention of bigger publishers – like The Guardian's Feast magazine, where he became a columnist. Eventually, his skills landed him a book deal; Season is based on his identity as an immigrant, bringing together the food cultures of the east and west. 

He came full circle with his second cookbook, The Flavor Equation, which combines food science with cooking skills and is geared toward the home cook. ‘Understanding what you have as your skill set, what your audience wants from you and how you package and deliver that is very important,’ he says.

For our ‘25 big lessons from small business’ series, we scoured the world to find inspiring people to share the lessons they've learned from running their own companies. Click here to read the other stories.

This special feature was first published in Courier issue 45, February/March 2022. To purchase the issue or become a subscriber, head to our webshop.

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