Tea With Shehnaz

Tea With Shehnaz

I first met Shehnaz when she started dating my best friend's little brother. Since then, I’ve followed her journey with great admiration as she globe-trots working as a doctor, represents NZ in powerlifting, and self publishes cook books donating all proceeds to charity. 

I managed to catch a break in her busy schedule to sit down and have a cup of tea. We discuss how she manages to juggle her many passions and her upcoming wedding in Bali!


Hey Shehnaz! Tell us a little bit about yourself…

Kia ora! My name is Shehnaz. I was born in Chennai, in Southern India, and moved to the UK when I was 2 years old. Every summer, I would visit India and stay with my grandparents, so I have a very close connection with India and essentially grew up both there and in England. When I was 9 years old, my family and I moved to Aotearoa, where I spent most of my school years and childhood in Hamilton.

Professionally, I'm a medical doctor. Currently, I'm working as a locum doctor across Australasia, filling in where there's a need. So far this year, I've worked in Auckland, Tauranga, Masterton, Canberra, and Gympie. I love the variety, the travel, and the opportunity to meet and help local communities.


When you’re not working or studying, what do you like to do?

Great question! Too much, haha! I have so many interests, including powerlifting, recipe developing, food photography, painting, and drawing.

Food is a big part of my life, family, and culture. Whenever there's a big event like a birthday, graduation, anniversary, new job, etc., we make sure to celebrate with a feast of beautiful home cooked food. We also organise a large lunch or dinner for the children at Madrasa-E-Azaam, an orphanage in India, so they can celebrate with us. My family has a close connection to the orphanage, which we support and visit every year. 


During COVID, I wanted to give back to my community, especially as India was hard-hit, leaving many children without parents and increasing the number of children the orphanage needed to support. I decided to write a cookbook called Tang, Spice, Crunch and donate all the profits to the orphanage. With the help of my family and word-of-mouth, we sold out all copies that we printed, which was 600!

Lastly, I am also a New Zealand representative powerlifter. I have represented NZ three times on the international stage and broke multiple national records, including a 160kg deadlift at a bodyweight of 55kg! It is incredibly empowering to know that, as women, we are capable of being as strong as men. Powerlifting has taught me to dream beyond what I once thought was achievable and to push past those inner barriers we all place on ourselves. It was the thing that allowed me to dream big and take the risk with self-publishing a cookbook. 


I’ve always admired just how many things you have on the go and how well you execute it all to such a high standard. What’s your secret?

Thank you for the kind words! That’s actually a great question, and it’s so nice to sit down and have an opportunity to reflect on it. I think the key to managing my various activities lies in passion and being mindful instead of “mind full”.

I genuinely enjoy my job as a doctor. It allows me to help my community, it’s very intellectually stimulating, and it gives me the chance to meet and learn about people’s lives. It also “fills my cup” and, in a way, it inspires me to really take care of myself so I can take better care of other people. That is what led to me doing other things that “fill my cup” such as cooking, recipe developing, powerlifting, hiking, etc.

Shehnaz powerlifting

What’s next for you?!

COOKBOOK NUMBER TWO IS MOST DEFINITELY IN THE WORKS! I love the idea of community and creativity, so this cookbook will also be a “100% profits to charity” kind of cookbook. I would to incorporate mental health, nutritional psychiatry, and community in some way in the next book as those are all my passions.


Also, my rockstar fiancé/best friend Robbie Evison and I will be getting married in Bali in July and then going on what we have been calling our “two-year honeymoon,” haha. We will be moving to the UK and maybe Amsterdam as well, and we will be travelling around Europe. This new adventure will inspire both of us in our creative endeavours for sure. We both love change!!

I look forward to celebrating with you soon! 
Lastly, if you could have a cup of tea with anyone, who would it be and why?

“Remy” the rat from Ratatouille. He is my inspiration, even if he is an animated character. I would just love to get into his brain and understand how he created and thinks of such unusual and beautiful flavour combinations.

Thanks, Shehnaz!

Follow Shehnaz’s cooking journey here - www.instagram.com/shehnazzy_cooks/