The Divine Gifts of 11 Dessert Entrepreneurs To The City of Mumbai - Homegrown

The Divine Gifts of 11 Dessert Entrepreneurs To The City of Mumbai

Gooey choux pastries, flavour-filled truffles and cheesecakes baked to perfection are what make our heads turn and hearts sing, and when it comes to satisfying our beast-like appetites for the divinity of desserts, we're out to find each and every individual who's getting creative in the kitchen and pushing the envelope in pursuit of their 'sweet' dreams. They lead with three words that best describe themselves, the quotes that have inspired them, and then take us through their world of culinary magic.
On our journey of melt-in-your-mouth discovery, the first round of people we met were driven to start all-encompassing dessert businesses, replete with stores, plans and everything in between. 

I) Chef Sanjana Patel, La Folie - Passionate. Instinctive. Travel Junkie.

‘In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different' - Coco Chanel

When you walk inside a patisserie named after a French expression that literally translates to ‘intense love bordering on madness', you know you’re in for some sweet, sweet authenticity.

La Folie, the Mumbai-based gourmet patisserie, has a flair for putting its own spin on European savoir-faire to hold you captive with the resulting innovations. Having worked with pastry kingpins in the international culinary world over the course of her career, founder Sanjana Patel decided to haul all that expertise back home with her and gift to the city of Mumbai, La Folie Patisserie. Elaborate desserts - visually aesthetic and gastronomically delightful - are dusted with whimsical touches, and the odd surprise, that keep regulars and newcomers alike enthralled, and in anticipation of her next creation in the craft of chocolate and pastry-making. The ‘Candy Cake’ is one of La Folie’s signature dishes, Sanjana’s tribute to her own favourite childhood candies. It incorporates these in a 7-layered cake baked with biscuit, buttercream, mousse, marshmallow cream, ganache and glaze.

"I have dreamed of having a chocolaterie ~ patisserie ever since I was a child," Sanjana tells Homegrown. "Growing up, I used to bake from home. At the age of 16, I pursued a diploma in chocolate technology at ZDS Institute in Solingen. I enjoyed this art so much that I knew this love for chocolate and dessert-making was more than just a hobby. Following my dream I moved to Paris and pursued a Master’s diploma from Ecole Grégoire Ferrandi, one of the most respected French pastry schools in the world. My dream came true when I was chosen for an apprentice stage with Pierre Hermé, the ‘Picasso of Pastry’."

Sanjana is keen on having La Folie enter the gilded doors of the Relais Desserts International, a club comprising the best pastry shops in the world, soon and is also looking to set up her own academy in India for aspiring pastry chefs.

We caught up with her in a quick round of questions to know more:

Desserts can...

transport you to a different place. If you surrender yourself to the flavours and let the aromas take over your senses.

Personal favourite on La Folie's menu:

Truffles. With La Folie's Truffles one can discover a world of intense flavour. Exceptional single origin Grand Cru cocoa beans reverently sourced directly and processed to yield gourmet chocolate truffles that are subtly delicate, harmonious and therefore more alive. Single origin chocolate is chocolate made from beans from one region, sometimes even one farm.

The recipe is a well-guarded secret of mine, so much so that I make them in my workshop at midnight, well after everyone is fast asleep.

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

La Tarte Infiniment Vanille by Pierre Hermé. It is available at Pierre Herme dessert boutiques in London and Paris.

Pâte sablée, white chocolate ganache with vanilla, tender biscuit moistened with vanilla, vanilla-flavoured mascarpone cream. The Tarte Infiniment Vanille consists of a shortbread crust with a very rich, dense filling of white chocolate ganache, flavoured with vanilla and mascarpone cream, also flavoured with vanilla. The contrast in textures yields an impression of great lightness. In this recipe, Pierre Hermé has combined vanilla from several different provenances (Mexico, Tahiti and Madagascar) to develop a ‘house vanilla’, Pierre Hermé's concept of the ideal vanilla.

On challenges:

Procuring ingredients in India is very difficult. The constant fluctuation in the currency and hardships in arranging the right ingredients are my biggest hurdles.

On inspiration within India's food industry:

Rutu Dalmia - how she has modernised Italian cuisine.

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II) Kavita Gonsalves, The Bake Collective - Dynamic. Fun. Community.

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” ― Jane Goodall

Founded by Kavita Gonsalves and Charlene Vaz in 2012, The Bake Collective (TBC) was kicked off as as a guerilla baking exercise to use their superpowers for good, not evil - to crowdfund for different social causes.

The TBC menu as well is crowd-funded - which means it really depends on what the bakers can make in bulk for the bake sales and what they are in the mood for. In the past, TBC has had bakers bring in plum cake, chocolate cupcakes, monster cookies, red velvet cakes, brownies, cheese cookies - the works. The dynamic nature of the bake sales makes it even more exciting (as though we didn't have enough reason to attend already).

TBC has supported shelter homes, orphanages, helped purchase teaching material, furniture, books, etc. for rural schools, toys for kids with disabilities, vocational training for candidates from rural areas, funded small town women entrepreneurs (skilled artisans), helped built water-purification systems, toilets, water connections, solar-lighting systems for rural homes, arrange transport for sending disabled kids to school, welfare of street animals - the list goes on.

"TBC is purely about bringing people together in different ways, to fundraise for causes that can make a difference to people’s lives. The idea is to empower communities to change the things for the better through the simple route of baking."

While Charlene works as a Global Account Manager in an IT firm and moonlights as a chocolatier at Charlene and the Chocolate Factory, Kavita is an architect/designer and sustainability consultant. Their mutual passion to make a difference catalysed the organisation which has had an impact of more than 7 lakhs, thanks to its army of bakers and volunteers. There is also a Bangalore chapter of TBC independently run by Joyline Rodrigues, which has been raising funds for over a year now.

Desserts can…

Make a delicious difference.

Personal favourite on The Bake Collective's menu:

A personal favourite is a strawberry cheesecake brownie - which had layers of cheese filling over a brownie base with strawberry bits thrown in. The sweet acidic taste of the fresh locally-picked berries merges well with the comforting cheese brownie- absolute soul food!

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

All the desserts created on MasterChef Australia are amazing. If only we had such experimentation taking place out here in India. But anything that involves butter, cream and dreams gets our attention!

On challenges:

Slowly, over the two years since our inception in 2012, we have built a community of awesome bakers and volunteers, without whom it would be impossible to hold all our successful and fun bake sales. It’s always been a team effort at TBC - right from people volunteering to design posters, sell cupcakes to strangers, provide their venues for the bake sale, bring family and friends along to purchase the yummy treats, volunteer to click pictures and capture beautiful videos, and most important the eagerness of the Volunteers to ‘Make a Delicious Difference’.

On inspiration within the Indian Food industry: 

Jamie Oliver is pretty inspirational with how he uses food to educate people. Either for better living or training school dropouts and / or troubled teenagers for the hotel industry. But mostly, it is movements that inspire us the most- such as Open Table in Australia that redistributes food through community meals or Invitationsdepartementet  which helps brings immigrants and locals together around a dinner table in Stockholm.

III) Charlene Vaz, Charlene and the Chocolate Factory - Go-Getter. Magnanimous. Positive.

"Have the courage to follow your heart. Nothing great has been, and nothing great can be accomplished, without passion.'"

Donning many hats, Charlene Vaz is Global Account Manager at an IT firm by day and chocolatier by night. Founded in 2013, Charlene and the Chocolate Factory is the place for you if you enjoy the sweet allure of high quality gourmet chocolates. Catering to parties, weddings and chocolate-themed parties, to name a few of the special occasions they like to star in, Charlene is out to provide every patron with a sense of the ultimate chocolate experience. CCF is also making a delicious difference with The Bake Collective, with 5% of all sales being contributed to social causes supported by TBC.

Charlene, who has been working in the IT and Telecom Industry as an Enterprise Sales profession for the past 8 years now, Charlene says, "Since we were so passionate about baking, we thought why not bake to make a difference. So ‘The Bake Collective’ is an informal network of Bakers and Volunteers that fundraise for social causes. We organize Bake Sales in Mumbai and Bangalore 3-4 times a year.

"You can never go wrong with chocolate, and my passion and love for the confectionery has let me experiment with a lot of flavours, textures and combinations that tantalize your senses."

"Some unique flavours are Strawberry Cheesecake Truffles, Tiramisu Truffles, Cherry Marzipan fillings and Peanut butter drop of heaven," she continues. "I also strongly believe that we eat with our eyes, so the delicately crafted chocolates at CCF are a beauty to admire. And last of all, who doesn’t get excited when you see a beautiful wrapped chocolate box with ribbons which you can’t wait to open and devour? We package the chocolates in beautiful boxes that can be gifted to your loved ones and shared with all."

Desserts can... good for you.

Personal favourite on Charlene and the Chocolate Factory's menu:  

It got to be ‘Kaju Katli’ bites. It’s your favourite Indian Mithai Kaju Katli enrobed in chocolate.

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten: 

My current favourite's got to be the Orange Chocolate cake at ‘Café Zoe’. It actually got fresh orange with rich flavourful chocolate ganache which I can wipe clean in flat two minutes.

On challenges:

India has been majorly a ‘mithai’ eating nation with very few gourmet chocolate options. I would strongly like to change that and wow people with the variety of chocolates one can enjoy!

One person in the Indian food industry who inspires you/ you admire and why?

I think when it comes to Chocolate, I absolutely fell in love with Max Brenner’s Chocolates and desserts the first time I came across them in New York. Right from the chocolate syringe to the delicious chocolate-chip cookies dipped in chocolate fondue. I was in chocolate Heaven!

IV) Pooja Dhingra, Le15 Patisserie - Passionate. Hardworking. Patient.

"Everything happens for a reason."

With four years at Cesar-Ritz Hospitality Management School in Switzerland, and a year at the prolific Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, Pooja set up a classic French patisserie in the city that has become synonymous with sinful macarons, choux pastries, cupcakes and tarts. Her business has grown by 200% since set it up when she was 23, and has come far from the fateful beginnings of baking French recipes she'd learnt at Le Cordon Bleu, Paris, out of her mother's kitchen. Her latest gift to home bakers has been the publishing of ‘The Big Book of Treats’ by Penguin, written with ‘a professional’s exacting eye and a home chef’s ability to improvise’.

We haven't been able to get this one out of our heads since last year, when their special Christmas menu made the end of 2014 a little brighter.

"Le 15 took off in 2010," Pooja says. "It has been a long journey – one of the most satisfying ones so far. At the time, there were not any stand-alone pastry shops in India, except maybe with the exception of one or two. I wanted to bring that culture to India, set up Le 15, which had been a dream. I was in love with macarons and had never tasted one in India and made it my mission to make and serve them."

Here's a little bit more on the woman behind some of the nicest macarons in the city:

Desserts can...

Make you happy.

Your personal favourite on Le15's menu: 

Passion fruit macaron.

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

My most memorable dessert memory is of eating my first passion fruit macaron in Paris. I remember standing in line, buying my prized possession and then being amazed by the mix of flavours on my tongue. The acidity or the tartness of the passion fruit was perfectly balanced with the sweetness of milk chocolate.

On challenges:

Starting a business brings its own set of challenges. I started Le15 when I was 23 and there were many things that I had to learn on the job and along the way. Being a young girl in a mainly male-dominated industry was a bit challenging. I learn new things every single day, and that’s the best part of my job.

On inspiration within the Indian food industry:

Chef Manish Mehrotra because his food challenges the way you think of Indian Food. It's a different approach to cooking but still familiar flavours.

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V) Neha Arya Sethi, Sweetish House Mafia - Cheerful. Positive. Organised.

"Everything in life happens for a good reason. No matter what it is, the universe has something else better in store for you."

 29-year-old Neha stumbled upon how much she loved baking when she returned to India after a brief stint in Investment Banking, and would often turn to it when she was trying to figure things out.

"As an analyst, I was sleep-deprived and couldn't handle the stress," the finance degree-holder from the Wharton School of Business says. "I wanted to do something more than the run-of-the-mill patisserie. If you really think about it, there aren't many good cookie-places in Mumbai."

'Slowly, the baking took over' and Sweetish House Mafia was born, a bakery that kept the identity of the baker secret and delivered out of a Tata Nano, with seven basic cookies available daily such as Nutella sea salt, Chocolate chip (with and without egg), Oatmeal, Snickerdoodles (cinnamon), Peanut butter, and double chocolate chip. An eighth weekly special is also on its way, and coffee and milkshakes are up for grabs as well. Neha ensures that there are new things added to the menu every once in a while just to spice things up.

"Sweetish House Mafia started off as a mobile bakery," she recalls fondly. "Selling freshly baked cookies out of a blue and white printed Tata Nano. The cookies were an instant hit amongst the younger crowd of Mumbai. Add to that the name, the fun of the chase of the Nano (deliveries were only announced on Facebook and Twitter), and the anonymity of the baker, SHM became a runaway success. But, unable to cope with the crazy demand, it was decided that SHM would set up shop. A year and a half later, here we are with our first store in Lower Parel, with the hopes of opening many more in the city and then, eventually, across the country."

Desserts can... 

Always lift up your mood!

Personal favourite on Sweetish House Mafia's menu:
I think everyone's favourite is also my favourite - the Nutella sea salt cookies! I like basic chocolate chip cookies but this takes it to a different level. The melty Nutella nestled on the inside, the ribbons of melted dark chocolate chips on the periphery, add to that flecks of sea salt splattered over the surface and you get the perfect balance of sweet and salty. One bite into those fresh cookies and you get an explosion of flavours. Absolutely divine!

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

I love dessert in general so any and all dessert is amazing to me. But the most memorable one in recent history would be the profiteroles I ate in San Gimignano, Italy. Profiteroles are basically choux pastries filled with chilled vanilla cream, and doused in hot chocolate sauce. The mixture of the hot sauce, chilled cream, bready pastry and the dreamlike setting is absolutely fabulous. It is as much about the experience as it is about the dessert.

On challenges:
Sourcing my premium ingredients what with the crazy import rules. It's very difficult!

On inspiration within the Indian food industry:

Rahul Akerkar for introducing Mumbai to modern European cuisine and maintaining Indigo's standards for all these years.

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Our hunt for the most delectable desserts born out of entrepreneurial drive witnessed the crossing of paths with a number of delightful home bakers well, each with their unique journey leading to their dessert dream. 

VI) Nishita Kamdar, Jar Designs - Ambitious. Creative. Driven.

"Keep it simple!"

26-year-old Nishita Kamdar is an architect by profession, and baker by passion. With her own architecture company under the name Studio Nishita Kamdar, her Home Bakery leads a happy co-existence under the name Jar Designs, born as an antidote to the stresses of her primary profession.

"Architecture is a completely exhausting profession, and three years into it I realized I needed a stress-buster, or something to come home to and help me unwind," she tells us. "I thoroughly enjoy eating out and trying out different cuisines and food. Much to my surprise , the options for eggless or vegetarian desserts were extremely poor and scarce in the city. It was this need to unwind and desperation to eat a good eggless dessert that made me start Jar Designs. Its been 17 months since we started and our only motto is to prepare the freshest desserts and give the customers a product that's honest and true to itself."

Desserts can... 

Make or break your meal.

Your personal favourite on your own menu:

It's tough to choose one... but if I have to, it has to be the seasonal Special 'Strawberry Colada'. This was an accidental flavour, but has received some of the best response. We use fresh strawberries sourced from Mahabaleshwar. The dessert consists of 12 layers (yes!) and has a sweet, sour, tangy, fruity kick to it . I do use a secret ingredient which completely elevates the flavour... and I choose to not tell people about it till they have eaten the Cake.

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

The Vanilla Pana Cotta with an orange reduction at The Table in Mumbai is delicious! Also, the Caramel Custard at Bade Miyaan in Colaba is perfect. I hate desserts which are overly sweet, sugary and buttery... a dessert that I crave for everyday would be the waffles from Belgium; simple, perfect and satisfying... and true to itself!

On challenges: 

A lot of times, customers ask for sugar work and overly sweet desserts .. It takes me a while to explain to them that desserts need not be loaded with sugar and can taste equally great even without it!

We are extremely particular about the quality and freshness of our products and spend a lot of time just keeping products in check.

On inspiration within the Indian food industry:

I do follow Shilarna Vaze (AKA Chef Chinu) quite diligently. Her husband and she run their catering business under the name Gaia Home chef (droolworthy food). Her show on Food Food, too, is effortless, easy and fun to cook. Why complicate food when it can be simple and still taste good?

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VII) Neha Chaudhary, Onesta Confections - Simplicity. Perfectionist. Dreamer.

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."  - Steve Jobs

After honing the skills she acquired at the French Culinary Institute in New York City further at the J. W. Marriott, Mumbai, 29-year-old Neha Chaudhary's dream has been to start a gourmet line of quality desserts and chocolates in Mumbai.
Nursing a love for cooking from the very beginning, she started off her journey baking for friends and family, before going on to train at the FCI in the States and travelling to Italy for further education. She believes that food is synonymous with joy and the ultimate way to someone’s heart, and we must say her passion for chocolate and drive for perfection has set her firmly on the path to bringing a smile to every patron's face.

"Onesta means 'honesty' in the Italian language," Neha tells us. "Here, we are passionate about baking! We work tirelessly to create quality confections and desserts. We believe in fresh and honest ingredients and avoid artificial flavours and preservatives as much as possible. We believe that food unites; whether it is us to ourselves, or to the people we care about.  We strive to create heavenly foods of excellent quality to satisfy our customers with every single bite and enhance the magical effect that food has on our minds and moods."

Offering a wide selection of pristine chocolates, cupcakes, cakes and popcorn in Mumbai, Onesta Confections' products can also be customized and made to order for parties.

"Food is one of the simple joys of life and our goal is to spread this joy and love through our products."

Desserts can...

Make you feel that everything is going to be okay

Your personal favourite on your own menu:  

Yikes! So many! I love the combination of dark chocolate and orange so I can pop as many of the Orange Truffles. Hazelnut is also another weakness so every time I make Hazelnut Praline, I have to eat the trimmings and edges!

Indian Masala Popcorn. The inspiration was the old movie theatre popcorn that is available at the older cinemas. I missed that a lot! Now its become a staple snack for when I am hungry and no time to eat.

Plain cheesecake -  I never ate a lot of cake but I remember eating the cheesecakes at Marriott and they were divine! I have loved them since and I just had to have the perfect cheesecake on my menu!

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

I like Antonio Bachour's work. He is the Executive Pastry Chef at St. Regis in Miami. I find his plating style unique. He uses a lot of techniques. It's simplistic yet so beautiful. I love the sound of his flavour profiles. I would love to try some of his desserts soon.

On challenges: 

I have started a business and just winged it. Everyday is new, as an entrepreneur, and you learn something new each day. It's challenging and exciting. The biggest challenge is not creating an amazing dessert, but maintaining quality control.

On inspiration within the Indian food industry: 

There isn't one! There are many.

Chef Jacque Torres, Johnny Iuzzini, Antonio Bachour.

Chef Jacque Torres is our college dean at ICC. It was my first time being exposed to so such delicious dessert and chocolate. I love working with chocolate, and I remember watching in awe as he worked with it.

Johnny Iuzzini - He was one of the chefs who inspired me when I just got into this field. I met him when I was studying at ICC. He had just won the James Beard Foundation Award for 'Outstanding Pastry Chef'. Firstly, he is very attractive! I was lucky enough to spend sometime with him and work with him. I was so excited to learn in his kitchen! He inspired me to go after the things that I want and I have never forgotten that.

Antonio Bachour - Virtually inspired by him everyday through social media. I like his style of work, and his play on colours and flavours.


VIII) Hormuz Mehta, Bun Men - No Bun, No Fun.

"Something my dad had told me while growing up - be a mochi (cobbler) if you want, but be the best one!"

Hormuz Mehta and Kunal Bhammar gift to the city is 'Bun Men', offering choux pastries filled with flavours ranging from caramel to pistachio, with a smattering of wordplay with names such as the Dark Lord buns, Hazel's Nuts and Pista-la-vista.

"The whole journey's been an experience to cherish," Hormuz Mehta tells us. "Having full-time jobs yet chasing a dream to start a one-of-a-kind cream buns store has been daunting, yet great. We started off not knowing how to go about things, but in time have learnt what the industry has to offer and how to create a product acceptable to the Indian market. We are constantly learning from feedback and market conditions and learnt from our past mistakes. We are a small team that is trying to maximize our limited knowledge in the F&B space competing with well-established players."

Other decadent delights they offer include Berry Me Bananas, Crazee Caramel and Red-I-culous.

Desserts can...
Make the world a sweeter place.
Personal favourite on your own menu of offerings:

My favourite bun is by far the Crazee Caramel. Chocolate is a universal favourite, however the caramel bun we have is unique in the offering. It's salty and sweet, topped with a caramel drizzle and butterscotch balls. Truly divine.

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

The red velvet pancake at the Griddle in LA. It's a mammoth fluffy red velvet pancake which is topped with oodles of cream.

On challenges: 
We have realised that a very small percentage of the Indian market is experimental. We offered a variety of flavours which were truly delicious, however, customers still prefer their usual favourites like chocolate and hazelnut. Something they are familiar with. Our concept by itself is a unique offering, so educating the consumer has been difficult. It will undoubtedly take time [for it to catch on] when a new concept in introduced. Donuts, when launched ten years ago, were alien too at the time; today, however, Indians widely accepted.
On inspiration within the Indian food industry:

Rashmi Uday Singh for her simplicity and tech savvy-ness. 

IX) Aishwarya Jalan & Shruti Jalan, Cheesecake Republic - Explorers! Dreamers! Enthusiasts!

"Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all." -Julia Child

“We, Aishwarya Jalan and Shruti Jalan do solemnly swear, that we will faithfully execute the duties of creating the most mouth-watering and irresistible cakes as set out in the charter of the Cheesecake Republic. A republic solely dedicated to the nurturing of all things cakey in every form conceivable. Additionally, we will also to the best of our ability cook up, distribute and encourage the consumption of cakes and spread their awesomeness across every man, woman and everything else in between, so help us God.”

Sisters Aishwarya, a textile designer, and Shruti, graphic designer/art director, combined their love for baking and eating - along with encouragement from their family and neighbours - to form Cheesecake Republic, a Goregaon-based endeavour that delivers more or less all across Mumbai.

They describe Cheesecake Republic as, "A place where cakes are worshipped and paid the highest form of flattery. Where every ingredient is as fresh and as wholesome as nature intended them to be. From the most exotic of fruits to the meticulous attention to hygiene, each and every step is a labour of love and that’s what makes our cheesecakes a work of art."

These girls have their eyes on the prize, kicking off the venture in April, 2012, with only cheesecakes and then gradually going on to expand the menu to include sponge cakes, pies, tea-time cakes and other treats halfway to sin. They have also started with savoury cheesecakes so keep your eyes peeled for new additions.

Desserts can...

bring happiness. Happiness is dessert.

Personal favourite on your own menu:

CHOCOLATE SQUIDGY CAKE: Once you eat this you are sure to get dessert coma. It doesn't get better, and we say this, when we really really mean it. Airy chocolate genoise layered with drambuie mousse and whipped cream, finished with Belgian chocolate ganache and dusted with cocoa powder. 'To die for' is an understatement!

The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:

Not eaten, but seen in pictures and heard of much, we would love to travel to Patisserie Pain de Sucre, Paris, for their tarts and other desserts.

On challenges:

The culinary explosion in India is still quite new. The common man still wants what was in the market 5-10 years back, especially where there is cake concerned. They are a little sceptical about trying something new. I think changing their mind and making them try something new, is one of biggest challenge we face. Also another challenge we face is making people understand that it is a home set up, but it is as professional as any top-of-the-line bakery.

On inspiration within the Indian food industry:

Someone we really admire in the food industry would be Riyaaz Amlani. He is hugely responsible for bringing the Indian food scene to such great heights. He has given this country great food, new concepts, new inventions and also has been successful in catering to all ages. From hookah to coffee, fine dining to chilled out brunches, from aperitifs to desserts, and from fancy bars to an affordable bar loved and infested by teenagers, this man has shown us all. A great inspiration and a man of pure genius.

X. Rachana Shah Sony, Second Helping - Inventive. Taste Worshipper. Perfectionist.

‘Life is uncertain. Eat dessert first.’- Ernestine Elmer

36-year-old trained visual artist Rachana Shah Sony had never thought of food as a career option but a love for fresh food and encouragement from her two gurus, her mum and her sister (both of whom are amazing cooks), nudged her towards her natural inclination.

"I was happily running a graphic design firm when I baked some  cupcakes for my sister-in-law," she recalls fondly. "I put the pictures on Facebook and they landed me my first order. The orders started pouring in so much so that soon I had trouble running both the businesses. I had to choose one. And I realized that this was where my true passion lay.  What started with buttercream cupcakes morphed into an extensive range of designer cakes, cupcakes and cookies. I also started catering for intimate gatherings and corporate workshops/seminars of 10- 50 guests, serving authentic and fusion Italian, Mexican and Thai food."

Being a J. J. School of Arts graduate, she uses her skills to conceptualize and create innovative design themes for cakes, cupcakes and cookies and suffice to say, no one is unhappy with the change in her course, least of all her clients!

Desserts can...
Make you so very happy.
Personal favourite on your own menu:
Customised cupcakes - We serve a wide range of cupcakes, both customised and non-customised, with regular and inventive flavours. While doing customised cupcakes, we work either on the brief given by the client or, if the client is not sure what he/she is looking at, we have a brainstorming session with them so that we can arrive at just the right theme for the occasion/person. For e.g. I recently made cupcakes with MAC cosmetics, Furla bag, coffee mug, a cat and a chocolate bar. Here, I use my creative and visualising skills that I learnt at the art school. The satisfaction of creating edible miniature art pieces is amazing.
Orange-Hazelnut mousse cake with chocolate truffle - this is a decadent chocolate cake filled with layers of creamy orange hazelnut mousse, with tiny bits of orange rind that compliments the sweet hazelnut mousse. It is covered with smooth and silky chocolate truffle and finished with mousse rosettes.Roasted almond, cashew and butter cookies - Butter, and loads of butter. The cookies are made with pure butter and roasted almonds or cashewnuts. We do not use margarine or nutralite. The sweet-salty taste lingers in your mouth long after the cookie has melted in your mouth.
The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:
It was the blueberry cheesecake at Moksha café at Royal Palms. Cheesecakes are tricky and they did such an amazing job - really creamy with the perfect balance of blueberry and cheese. And it just melted in my in mouth.
On challenges:
India is still an upcoming market for desserts, so not all ingredients and materials are easily available. The supply of high-quality stuff is not consistent. There's also inflation. In such times, keeping the pricing consistent also becomes a challenge.
On inspiration within the Indian food industry: 
Vikas Khanna, because he is cute. (laughs) He rose from the bottom to such dizzying heights and is extremely innovative with his food.  His is an inspirational story.
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XI. Sonali Gonsalves, Sonali's Cupcakes - 'Sugar-addict, foodie and exercise-fiend'

 "Regardless of whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right."

Sonali Gonsalves is always on the hunt for innovative ideas and new ways in which to take it up a notch with her products. The 27-year-old home-based baker attended a two-day workshop while studying for her Master's that led to the genesis of Sonali's Cupcakes.
"Sonali's Cupcakes is a business which allows me to be creative and make people happy at the same time," she tells us. "We have as much fun conceptualising our themed cupcakes for birthdays as we do for bachelorette parties, and any themed occasion, as our customers love gobbling them up! We can pretty much customise anything in 2D, as long as the image fits on a cupcake! We are constantly adding new, delicious products to our ever expanding menu, like our new Dessert Jars - 'Love in a Jar'."Their current flavours in these Dessert Jars include Chocolate & Nutella Jar, Strawberry & White Chocolate Jar. After hearing about these, we just had to catch up with her to find out more:
Desserts can...
Complete you.
Personal favourite on your own menu:
The Double Chocolate Cupcake. Chocolate cake yumminess with my homemade chocolate ganache topping.The most amazing dessert you've ever seen/heard of/eaten:
The Tab Tim Grob at India Jones at Nariman Point, Trident. It's a Thai dessert made with water chestnut and sweetened coconut milk flavoured with Pandan leaf; it was like nothing I had ever tasted before.
On challenges:
Making sure the Sonali's cupcake you eat is always the same. Consistency is very important to us.
On inspiration within the Indian food industry: 
Chef Sanjana Patel of La Folie for her attention to detail, perfect desserts and my mum.
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Words: Aditi Dharmadhikari

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