Padmashree Thangam E. Philip

Some are born to make a mark in their chosen field of interest. And, if the area of excellence is food, then without doubt he or she will have no dearth for respect and admiration. One such personality is Padmashree Thangam E. Philip, a graceful lady and a native of Central Travancore in Kerala, who literally made thousands to sit and think about what they need to eat and how much. She longed to become a lawyer, but it seems her path ahead was well defined than most of her peers, which she embraced whole-heartedly. 

A graduate from Women's Christian College, Madras, Ms. Philip took diplomas in Home Science and teaching from Lady Irwin College, New Delhi. This was followed by an MS from USA. 

Her illustrious career kicked off with St. Thomas School, Calcutta, where she was in charge of the Home Science Department. After her brief stay in Calcutta, call of duty made her move to Sri Lanka in 1949. There, at the Southland Methodist College, she was asked to set up a Home Economic Department. She taught there and worked to raise funds for the newly established department. Due to policy changes of the Sri Lankan government, she bid adieu to the island nation and came back to India in 1950. This was a period when India was witnessing episodes of famine, and the Union Agriculture Ministry sought the services of Ms. Philip to run one of the Annapurna subsidized chain of cafeterias in New Delhi. The objective was to provide an alternative to cereal-based meals, especially to the middle-class people.

Ms. Philip joined as lecture in the Institute of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition, Bombay, now known as Dadar Catering College, in its starting year - 1955. Soon Ms. Philip became involved with a UN aided Food and Agriculture Organization project (FAO) launched to bolster the centers activities. It was during her time in 1958 that the first batch of the three-year diploma holders passed out from the centre. All six students of the first batch went on to hold highly responsible positions in different sectors of the hospitality industry, and were also the first set of qualified teachers in the country.

In between Ms. Philip had a brief stint in US, where she was busy with radio and television programmes, and also did cookery shows for television channels, which did well to popularize some of the ethnic dishes of India.

Her return from US in 1961 was a turning point in her career. On her return to India, she was made the principal of Dadar Catering College. From here onwards, Ms. Philip took her professional expertise to a new level, were she began to write columns and features for newspapers and magazines, and started a cookery programme on All India Radio. In 1965, Ms. Philip participated in the Young World Assembly in Athens, Rome, for launching the Freedom From Hunger campaign of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation. 

Recognitions and awards were slowly starting to pour in for Ms. Philip and the pace really caught up, when in 1975, she was honoured by FAO to be portrayed on the FAO CERES medal, instituted in 1971 to honour those women who have done significant work towards the food necessities of the world. Indira Gandhi and Mother Theresa are the other two Indians who have been portrayed on the CERES medal instituted by FAO. Her pinnacle of recognition came in the year 1976, when the nation honoured her with Padmashree for her service to the development of hotel and catering education. In 1982, she was honoured with the Knighthood of the Order of "Cordon Bleu Du Sant Esprit' from France 

She retired from the Dadar Catering College in 1986, and by this time Ms. Philip had gone through some of the hectic and noteworthy assignments in her life. A host of national and international seminars, conferences, workshops, food upgradation programmes and as consultant and expert to various departments and organizations virtually turned the spotlight on her. 

To the academic world, she has penned several books, of which 'Modern Book for Teaching and the Trade,' prescribed as a textbook for the four institutes of Hotel Management, Catering Technology and Applied Nutrition in India, and the 'Thangam Philip book of baking and cuisine' written for the Ministry of Tourism are considered outstanding works. 

She was also the consultant for several projects including that of UNDP, ITO, ILO, FAO and the Kuwait Ministry of Public Health and is a fellow of the Hotel Catering and Institutional management Association, UK and a member of the Royal Society of Health, UK.

After retiring in 1986 from Dadar Catering College, she settled down at her native place, Kottayam in Kerala, but did not let up her commitments and interests to wane. These days, she has set her own standards of work, and is fully engrossed in research and writing books. 

Her association, friendship and guidance are still appreciated by her students, colleagues and well-wishers, who still seek her words of wisdom. At the age of 82, Ms. Thangam E. Philip is a persona par excellence in the field of Indian hospitality and catering industry has left a trailblazer, which few people can emulate. 

Padmashree Thangam E Philip
Pakkil P.O.
Tel: 91-481-2363514
Fax: 91-481-2563086. Email:

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