London: A prominent Indian-origin chef and social entrepreneur said she squealed with joy when she opened a royal envelope that turned out to be her invitation to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding at Windsor Castle next month.
Rosie Ginday, born in the UK to Punjabi parents, is among 1,200 members of the public to be invited to the royal wedding on May 19 in recognition of the impact they make in their community.
The 34-year-old Ginday is the founder of 'Miss Macaroon', a business that not only produces and sells small biscuits called 'macaroons' but also uses its profits towards employment training opportunities for young people.
The Birmingham-based enterprise impressed the royals when they visited the city last month, and also got a taste of some of her macaroons.
"It's really exciting to receive this invitation and be acknowledged in this way. They are using the occasion to shine a light on organisations working to improve their communities, which is fantastic," said Ginday, who is looking forward to taking some of her macaroons to share with guests at a picnic that is planned on the wedding day.
Her company's 'Macaroons that Make A Difference (MacsMAD)' training courses enable long-term unemployed young people to build their confidence and skills to become work-ready. The MacsMAD trainees leave the eight-week course with a five-year plan, up-to-date CV, extensive interview practice, industry contacts and help to apply for jobs.
"This adds an entirely new and unique flavour to the macaroons, and one that can truly be savoured and enjoyed beyond the mere eating of the Miss Macaroon product itself, changing the world one macaroon at a time," reads Ginday's company mission statement.
She created Miss Macaroon in 2011 from a desire to combine her passion for social enterprise and premium quality baking. She trained as a high-end pastry chef at University College Birmingham and moved on to working in Michelin starred kitchens across Britain before turning into an award-winning businesswoman.
Her business model is based on creating hand-crafted and gluten-free macaroons, as well as bespoke logo-printed macaroons for other businesses and designer brands for branding and event purposes.
She also owns Birmingham's first macaroon and prosecco bar, which opened in the city in October 2016.
"My personal reward is that, as well as seeing young people flourish in what is a highly competitive industry and work confidently and diligently in the pressurised environment of a professional kitchen, I know my customers are also investing in these young people with the purchase of our products," she said.
Ginday will be among a select few guests to make the cut for a very different kind of royal wedding ceremony being planned by Prince Harry, the fifth in line to Britain's throne, and his American actress fiance Meghan Markle.
The Kensington Palace has said that in a departure from usual protocol no "official list of political leaders" will be compiled, which means British Prime Minister Theresa May and US President Donald Trump have been left out from the ceremony at St George's Chapel in Windsor Castle.
The couple have also announced that guests should consider donations in place of wedding gifts, with Myna Mahila Foundation, an organisation that works with women in Mumbai's slums to provide them with employment opportunities, among the handful of charities chosen for the purpose.