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Inspired BlogThe Secret Life of RV: Chaitali Barve

We can’t brag enough about our biggest competitive advantage: our people. They’re some of the smartest, most talented, most interesting people on the planet – and we’re not exaggerating. In fact, if you knew even half the things our employees are up to in their spare time, it would blow your mind.

The Secret Life of RV reveals some of the coolest things our employees are doing outside of work. (Read: THIS is where we blow your mind.)

Secret Life: Chaitali Barve

Senior DQL Developer/Chef Extraordinaire

Chiatali has been a part of the Bankrate team for almost six years. As a data administrator, she helps transition our data into a readable format for our analysts and data scientists.

When she was in high school, she won a cooking competition and earned her spot on a TV show starring Indian celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor. Now, she caters events and teaches cooking classes in her free time.

Q: Hi Chaitali! What’s cookin’?

A: Hi there! Nothing much right now.

Q: Not to grill you with questions right away, but can you tell us about your culinary roots?

A: Sure! Growing up in India, my family would host a prayer service in our farmhouse every five years. It was a huge event – almost 1,000 people would come. So, it was tradition that the women of the house would help cook the meal. One year when I was 7, my mom and my eldest sister both got sick. My dad didn’t expect me to do much without them, but I stopped by to help the chefs roll out dough. Before long, my dough was coming out in perfect circles. I cooked with them for hours – until my mom started to wonder where I was!

Peas pass us a plate of this!

Q: Ah, so you always knew you had the chef gene?

A: I had no clue that I had a knack for cooking. My mom would never let me into the kitchen – “Don’t touch the hot pans.” But after that day, she said, “You’re gifted – just go for it.” That’s how it started, and it never stopped after that. Cooking has helped me in a lot of ways. I cook for my friends, for parties, and even for weddings. I love it! When I’m exhausted from work and kids and home… Some people want to sit back and relax. I want to cook a whole meal. My husband hates it. Guess who has to eat it!

Q: Let’s put that on the back burner for a second. How did you end up on TV?!

A: Once I discovered my talent, I started participating in all kinds of cooking competitions. When I was in 12th grade, an Indian TV show held a competition in the city of Pune. They said the winner of the competition would get to do a show with this renowned chef, Sanjeev Kapoor. To my luck, my dish was selected and I got to do an episode with him. 

Q: That’s grate! What was on your winning plate?

A: They gave us very specific, strange ingredients to use. One was a thin noodle – we call them Vermicelli in India – and that had to be our main dish. Those noodles are very thin and don’t have much flavor. Just getting my dish to taste like something was a challenge! Luckily, I used to eat them with my mom at home, so I knew how to play around. When you know your ingredients, it’s easy on you.

I partially boiled some of the noodles and made a cutlet, then mixed it with vegetables. The meal looked like an egg with peas inside, so I fried some of the noodles to make it look like a nest. That’s just what came to mind at that moment. We had an hour and a half to do everything – the presentation and the cooking, all of it. The idea just struck me: a bird’s nest. 

Q: Sounds like your nest was a hoot. What was it like getting to work with Chef Kapoor?

A: I was too young to realize what was happening to me. It was overwhelming to get that exposure and see a chef like him, someone so renowned. Sanjeev is very opinionated – he’s one of the really popular chefs in India! I was so honored just to be there and work with him, and to see how this whole industry works. 

We’re not drooling, you’re drooling.

Q: Amazing! So how did a young culinary star become a data administrator at Red Ventures?

A: I came from a very career-focused family. My parents had double PhDs and my sister was pursuing her medical degree. I was always into computers, so engineering seemed like a natural fit. My dad was always worried that if I tried to make a career in cooking, I wouldn’t be able to earn myself a living. So, he pushed me to focus on that first. He said, “Once you have your degree and some experience, you can do what you like.” And I always believed him. He never stopped me from cooking or competing on the side – but in India, you just don’t have as much exposure. 

I went to school for my Bachelor’s in India, and got some teaching certifications at a nearby culinary institute. (It kept me very busy, but I never wanted to lose the knack for cooking.) Then, I moved to New York to get my Master’s in Computer Science – and I met my husband. He was offered a job in Florida, so we moved south. After that, I found Bankrate!

Q: How does your work on the data team blend with your cooking hobby?

A: Whether I’m cooking or working, there’s always something new to be learned. When you teach cooking classes, you get to work with different sets of people and try new recipes every day. Here at Red Ventures, I’m the student ― I recently mentioned to my manager that I wanted to transition to the ETL side of the data team. Ever since, he’s been sharing online Learning & Development classes with me, sending me to company presentations so I can learn, and has assigned me new projects so I can get more experience. There’s so much opportunity to grow, whether I’m in the kitchen or in the office.

Q: What can we find you whipping up in the office?

A: I’ve been on the data team at Bankrate for 5.5 years. I used to monitor and troubleshoot issues that came into our legacy systems, but now I’m transitioning to our Data Warehouse side. We turn data into a readable format so our data analysts can make their reports and our data scientists can study market trends. We are the keepers of the data.

Q: Nice. When you’re not baking out the data, how do you keep your cooking cravings satisfied?

A: Now, I do my own stuff. I’ll rent out kitchens and do cooking classes or birthday parties. I’ll go to people’s homes and do a cooking event for parties and stuff. I would love to teach a class at Red Ventures. 

Pictured above: Chaitali’s chefs-in-training.

Q: Um, we would LOVE that. Before we go, what’s your favorite quintessential “Florida” food?

A: Everybody says the shrimp here is awesome. People love the shrimp curry I cook, but I don’t know how it tastes ― I’m a vegetarian!

Q: Thanks for chatting with us, Chaitali!

About the Author:
Sarah Harris | Communications Strategist
Sarah Harris

Sarah joined the Red Ventures creative team in 2018 after graduating from North Carolina State University. (GO PACK!) When she isn't whipping up killer content for the Corporate Communications team, she can be found posting pictures of the many frogs that live around the Charlotte campus (there are like, a lot).

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