Anjum Anand on her spice journey, saving money, and spa days


SBS TV chef Anjum Anand who hosts Indian Food Made Easy and Anjum's Australian Spice Stories grew up between two cultures. She was born in Britain to Indian parents and was fascinated by her mother's recipes.

Anand's food journey saw her launch The Spice Tailor, which thrived during lockdown in the UK as people felt inspired to cook with new flavours.

Her relationship with Australia began on her honeymoon. She has since filmed her Spice Journey here and brought her family here on holiday. Melbourne's coffee culture is responsible for making her a coffee snob.

andjum anand

What is your spice story?

I was born in England of Indian origin, we travelled back to India regularly and stayed with different families, mainly my father's. When we came home I always very fascinated by the Indian side of me. Many years later I did a business degree because my mother said as I was a woman I needed to make a career for myself if I didn't just want to be a housewife.

After I did the degree and spent time working in a business I didn't love, I kept coming home and cooking Indian food. I thought it was important to love what you do every day, not what you do on the weekends, and that's been my story for the past 20 years.

What was your first job?

In my teenage years, my dad had started his own business - a little office for embroidered badges and buttons for cricket clubs. I would go into the office every summer to help in the warehouse putting things away, and with the importing of badges, so I always worked. When I was doing my business degree I had to work over summers.

I worked in the finance department of a financial company in Spain, and in an advertising company in France, and then when I graduated I thought I wanted to have my own company like my father, so started a small company that brought flat packs into the UK but I absolutely hated it.

Then I found my way into food and working in restaurants, hotels and catering companies to get as much experience as I could. I wasn't always paid for all of it and it's still like that.

What's the best money advice you've received?

The best advice was 'If you do what you love, you'll be successful at it'. In the food world work is not greatly remunerated. It's better now with the celebrity chefs but 20 years ago it wasn't.

But I loved it and with a passion and I wanted to talk about how great Indian food is. I've written eight books, filmed many series, and started The Spice Tailor.

I've always been a saver - it's a very Indian thing. Even when I got pocket money I would squirrel away 20%. That's always held me in good stead, and still does.

What's the best investment decision you've made?

I haven't spent a lot of time investing in shares. I realise that's not my forte. The biggest and best investment is my business, money, time, and emotion.

You're very all in when it's your own business. Not only has it grown, but it's given me so much. You put yourself out there and you learn and you grow, and for me that's been really positive in areas I wasn't so confident in before.

What's the worst investment decision you've made?

When my husband and I got married we went on a holiday to Thailand. We had a small flat and we went to an "antiques" market and there was a Buddha's head and we went into the shop and it was ridiculously expensive even in Thailand but it was our first piece of art.

We bargained it down 50%, it was antique with certification. We went to a Chinese restaurant in London two weeks later and they had the same piece. I'm wary of anything arty but as long as you enjoy it while you have it you're ok.

What is your favourite thing to splurge on?

I like good quality things but don't buy so much. About seven years ago when I was in the thick of building The Spice Tailor and just had my second child, I was getting teary and overwhelmed and my husband said I needed to get away.

I booked into a spa for six nights and it was the best money I'd ever spent. Now I try and find a week every 12 to 18 months to go to a spa somewhere and spend a week of pampering and getting back in control.

If you had $10,000 where would you invest it?

I'd probably save it but then I think there are so many exciting food brands that I see coming up and get excited by - and have said if we had a bit of those brands this is what we'd do. I'd like to find a niche brand we were interested in and we could add value to as well.

What would you do if you only had $50 left in the bank?

I would be very disappointed and angry and probably blame my husband and myself - I'd cut every expense I could and hustle very quickly to see what I could do today. I would create a very quick action plan after all the emotional bits.

Do you intend to leave an inheritance?

I would like to but I'm not sure if when my kids grown up they'll feel the same. I feel they're always safe if I'm not around - if I could afford it I'd like to make sure they have a roof over their heads and they could make good decisions on what's right for them, not out of desperation.

Would you like to see any changes with the way people look at money post-COVID?

I think that Covid had a really interesting impact - what I see is people giving more and being kinder and understanding that money isn't the be-all and end-all. And I see a lot of businesses that people invested everything in, and then lost them during Covid. I think people will save more for a rainy day now but this was a really rude awakening.

People talk more about happiness and spending more time on relationships. I see a real softening of the rat race environment but I do see softening of people who are now spending time with people they love.

Finish this sentence: Money makes...

... me feel secure and makes me feel that I have options.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.