Whenever there is any occasion in Odisha, people’s top choice would be the catering service provided by this 75 YO- Santoshini Mishra caterer due to the magic in their recipes. Her menu includes veg and non-veg, ranging from paneer butter masala to chicken and from veg to chicken biryani. She is a resident of Sambalpur, Odisha. Her adventure began when she had to prepare food for others to survive. Previously her husband, Gopal Krushna Mishra, who formerly owned a pan store, was the family’s sole bread earner. But owing to a heart ailment at 38, he was forced to sit back at home; that is when Santoshini was left to face the entire burden. She wasn’t prepared to give up or complain! She used to go out and cook from home to home to care for her family during a time when women were not allowed to work. She took up all household duties independently and looked after her entire family, including her children’s education and her husband’s medical care. Santoshini, who lost her husband almost ten years ago, adds, “It wasn’t easy” to bear the reality alone!
She is still working on it but has started her catering service serving people around the state. Whether it’s a wedding, birthday, or any other event, most people in the city prefer the delectable food prepared by “Santoshini Mama”.
“Being an accomplished cook, I decided on this profession 36 years back. My mother was a great teacher to me when it came to cooking. I had mastered the art of cooking by the time I got married, and at family events, I frequently used to make food for 30 to 40 guests.” said Santoshini.
“At that time, most catering companies were run by males, so I encountered a lot of resistance from my family and society. Finding a wife for my son was particularly challenging because no one wanted to give their daughter to a household where females go out to work. However, I never gave up on my job or my hope.” said the firm lady.
“I did not allow the criticisms to stop me because my job enabled me to provide food and educate my children,” adds Santoshini.
“I prefer to handle all aspects of the task myself, from planning to culinary supervision. However, if it gets busy or there are too many orders to complete, both of my sons would help me,” Santoshini says, adding that she intends to work till the end of her days.
Santoshini Mishra, who defied gender and age norms, is now admired for her perseverance and hard work and inspires many in society. Santoshini’s workforce consists of 100 people, predominantly women. She believes that women in society shouldn’t stay behind the veil; instead, they are meant to walk out of the door of customs and earn their bread. The firm old lady wishes to cook for State Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik if given a chance.
Santoshini’s single-mindedness and power took her from scratch to success, which also throws light on the fact that age is just a number and not a restriction.