Dubai: Meet the diabetic chef whose mission is to whip up sugar-free sweets

Harsh Kedia said there's a lot of scope for bringing in new and exotic foods in the emirate and calls it a welcoming market


Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Wed 22 Feb 2023, 7:19 PM

Last updated: Thu 23 Feb 2023, 8:50 AM

As a sweet-loving teenager, Harsh Kedia was heartbroken when he was diagnosed with diabetes at 14. But his sweet craving helped him carve out a niché for himself in the food world. The youngster started a blog with recipes to help other children like him.

Twelve years later, he is in Dubai speaking in a panel discussion at Gulfood and looking to expand his range of no-sugar chocolates, confectioneries, and nut butters under the label 'A Diabetic Chef'.

"It has been a long journey," said Harsh, speaking to Khaleej Times. "The blog turned into the range of packaged goodies I sell now. There have been constant roadblocks and challenges. But I am thankful to be here in Dubai right now."

Last year, the 26-year-old was featured on the Forbes Asia list of 30 under 30. Boasting a social media following of 100,000, Harsh has also been a TEDx Speaker and has released his cookbook titled Ultimate Sugarfee Desserts. At Gulfood, he spoke on a panel about health, nutrition and diet trends.

Hard work

According to Harsh, 'A Diabetic Chef' has been the culmination of decades of hard work. "The blog was a way to provide other kids access to recipes of the kind of food I consumed as an individual," he said. "I started taking orders and followed it with a cloud kitchen, which due to unforeseen circumstances, didn't work out. And then eventually it became a full-time e-commerce business where we now sell packaged chocolates and confectionery."

Harsh says the hardest part of the process has been the constant challenges he faced. "It can be really detrimental to your mental health," he said. "There were a couple of times when I thought of giving up. But I can't give up. I've come too far to not go further.”


As people have become mindful of what they consume, Harsh says he has seen a steep increase in demand for his range. "A lot of people try my goodies when they have diabetes or comorbidities," he said. "But also, people have become more open to trying healthier alternatives in the last couple of years. My products are all plant-based, sugar-free and gluten-free and come from a credible source. So, there is a lot of interest."

Harsh has experienced a reflection of that demand in Dubai as well. "I've been here only for three or four days, but I see it's a very welcoming market," he said. "There's a lot of scope of bringing in new and exotic foods in Dubai. So I have been meeting people who are retailers and importers."


Having enjoyed cooking since he was 8, Harsh spends several hours experimenting with his products. "I have these stints where I'm just in the kitchen," he said. "It's difficult as a business owner and a chef to dedicate time to either of these roles, but I manage to find the time. So I go to the market, buy stuff, bring it back, break it down, sometimes even burn it down and try to understand what's really happening. At times it's a 12-hour stint. There are days when I'm really frustrated. But I have to do this. I have to pull it off."

Harsh's biggest critic and supporter is his father. "My dad really has no filter," he laughed. "He'll trash it if the product is not nice. He'll appreciate it on a minuscule level if it's good. So, if he says it's a six or seven on ten, it's a ten for the rest. His favourite product has been our white chocolate with blueberries, and coincidentally, that is our highest seller. I really trust his judgement."


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