In the winding lanes of Bandra is a cafe notorious for its sandwiches and long lines. Shepherding and coddling hungry people is no mean feat but there’s one familiar face that makes the wait worth your while. Milonee Madiyar aka Madame Vero to regulars, helms operations and Community at Mumbai’s popular eatery Veronica’s. Besides her infectious energy she’s also effortlessly stylish – making her our muse this Christmas. Here, she talks about cultivating a culture of warmth and why she’s given up wearing jeans.
How did you come about to work at Veronica’s?
I began working at 18 and dabbled in everything from travel, diving professionally to being a senior executive at a furniture design studio. However I realised I wanted to be engaged in something long term, around then Hunger Inc reached out to me for their next project. Every Time I’ve been to Bombay Canteen everyone who works there is always laughing, smiling and having a great time, which is very reflective of the company’s work culture.This wasn't an industry I had worked in before but I dived in and began working at the then freshly-launched Bombay Sweet Shop. Shortly after opening, we went into lockdown and working in hospitality remotely became quite challenging, but it always felt collaborative with a set of highly inspiring people. After spending 3 years there and building it from the ground up, I was ready for the next thing – I like the idea of waking up, going somewhere and creating something positive. After a short sabbatical spent in Bali, which reinstated my love for hospitality I returned to work at Veronica’s.
What's the secret sauce to keeping the vibes immaculate?
Much of it is about setting a voice and a vibe. We want this to be a casual space, like a deli but primarily we wanted a holistic feeling of warmth which is massively inspired by the late Chef Floyd Cradoz with whom I had the privilege of briefly interacting. Ultimately, it's never just one person, it's the team. It's important for people to really love what they do. Here, everyone brings their own personality to the table every night - you will always remember a great meal, you might not remember the person who helped you have that experience but that's what it is - it's so much more than just the plate of food in front of you - it's about consistently showing up.
What’s the best ‘Overheard at Veronica’s’?
I love how open and comfortable you can feel at a cafe, you sit back and relax – you find a friend to have coffee with and sometimes you're saying some really inappropriate shit, sometimes it's about boy problems, sometimes about the match. I started the Instagram account in order to create relatability and humour – for people to have a good laugh. The most heart-warming overheard was actually when I was at a gig and I heard the guy in front of me describe how much of a good time he has whenever he visits the cafe, it's his ideal date place, and if we’re working the floor we might send him something to the table which makes him feel special and he’s had a 10/10 success rate for most dates there.
What defines your personal style, what's your everyday uniform look like?
My personal style resembles my grandfather’s. Ever since I started building my wardrobe and discovering what feels authentic to me I’ve stopped trying to fit in, comfort takes precedence. I don't wear jeans anymore, it's either trousers or tailored shorts - my father, grandfather, all uncles wear trousers, a shirt, belt and proper shoes work. It's so important to look sharp at work. When there is a wardrobe crisis, I have my very own style advisory at home.
Your favourite christmas memory?
When I was younger my dad used to take me to a restaurant to grab hot chocolate and see the decorations, which was really special.
The best Christmas present you’ve given somebody?
One of my friends has a major sweet tooth and I also have a friend who is a great baker so I brought over a boozy tiramisu cake to her house party which was inhaled by everyone in seconds.
Your go-to snack for Midday hunger pangs?
The chefs make me an epic Milo’s scramble which is - a soft scramble of two creamy eggs with cheese, truffle and drizzled with chili oil – it's not on the menu but maybe you can request it.