With more and more youngsters taking to baking, we take a look at the transition from hobby to business and how young entrepreneurs are born in the process.
Tri-coloured frostings, trays of sugar-packed goodies, exquisite looking three-tier cakes and towers of macaroons! It was a sugarlicious weekend indeed as dessert junkies pranced around a green lawn jumping from stall to stall treating themselves to everything sinful, at the sixth Baker’s Showcase that was held at Sandy’s, Cenotaph Road. As buttery scents filled the sultry Chennai evening, we saw bakers from around the city getting together under one roof to showcase what they did best!
Whoever thought youngsters now don’t have the time to enter a kitchen sure had it all wrong. With college girls following their passion to the kitchen, the trend seems to have made not just bakers, but even independent entrepreneurs out of them. KP Balakumar, the found of Home Bakers Guild, Chennai, talks about how the forum has created a promising platform for young bakers to showcase their talents and how it has grown with every sale. “The Baker’s showcase is now into its sixth event. We’ve had five events so far — three in Chennai and two in Bangalore, over the past year,” he says.
From a sale number of 2000 pieces at the first Showcase, to 4,500 pieces at the last one in Bangalore, the event has gone places and earned quite a name and reputation. “I am incredibly proud that I’ve made a difference to the lives of many, many women baker-entrepreneurs!”
Sruti Bhaskar, a 22-year-old patisserie chef with The Leela, Chennai, graduated from Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. A member of the Home Bakers Guild as well, Sruti believes that passion is the first reason why someone should start a business in baking. “One question they need to ask themselves is, ‘Do I enjoy the product that I make?’. If they do then obviously they would sell,” says she. Sruti’s specialities include Casis truffle in chocolates, blueberry muffins and choco burst which she feels disappears before she even counts to three!
Bakeman Begins by Karthika Shravanthi
What draws you most to this sugar haven is probably its rather out-of-the-box name. Bakeman Begins is Karthika Shravanthi's (22) way of saying that there is no bigger love than love of food! A huge Christopher Nolan fan, Karthika says that it was around the time of the movie’s release that she took up baking. “The Dark Knight Rises had just released and decided to stick to this name,” smiles Karthika. Nine months into the business, Karthika takes orders at home and says that confectionary is the hottest business now. “Food businesses never face recession. A lot of businesses such as Bakeman Begins are mushrooming all over the city because people want customised cakes and they’re willing to pay for it.” Karthika recently quit her IT job and is all set to take off to London, to specialise in French Patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu.
Started in: 2012
Piece de Resistance: Karthika specialises in fusion bakes and loves mixing Indian flavours to her bakes. Her specialities include Gajar ka Halwa cupcakes and Kulfi Panacotta.
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The Sweet Art by Sujani Nagarajah and Yalini
To sisters Sujani and Yalini, baking is a passion. After much encouragement from their family, the duo decided to start the business on February 14, 2012. Initially the sisters took orders from their home but then in January 2013 they started their own store in Vadapalani. “Our unique selling point is that we serve freshly baked goodies,” says Sujani. “Be it eggless or sugarfree, we customise each of our orders however the customer wants it.” To add a fresh outlook for the summer, the duo decided to add buns, cinnamon rolls, doughnuts and chilled beverages to their menu. The sisters feel that the right amount of capital and genuine investors are very important. “Practical knowledge of baking is crucial,” says Sujani. “Apart from this, I think if you want to get into full-time baking, then you will need to learn how to manage your time and balance both work life and personal life.”
Started in: February, 2012
Piece de Resistance: The Sweet Art’s Classic Caramel Pudding is a hit among children and have parents calling them up to have them ready for their kids! “In our cupcakes, we have a variety called the ‘Lovebite’,” explains Sujani. “It is a chocolate cupcake with fresh strawberry fruit inside, which is the surprise element, so the sweet and sour combination was a hit with our customers!”
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The Sweetest Thing by Neha and Sapna
This talented duo spent most of their Sundays under the spell of frosting, cakes and butter. So it wasn’t a surprise when the sisters started their own baking business under the name of The Sweetest Thing in October, last year. “We’ve always felt that the love for desserts is universal,” says Neha. “So we’ve made sure there’s something for everybody. Although they function from home at the moment, plans to start a fully-functional store is definitely on the cards. Neha says that the biggest advantage is the that they are sisters and knows what it is like to work together. “Years of knowing each other has helped in making working seamless and a lot of fun!” Neha and Sapna believe that skill and pure love for baking are what’s important to start a business. “You need to constantly innovate, stay in tune and sharpen your skills,” says Neha. “Pastry is one of the most technically challenging jobs in the world, yet it needs you to be inspired and out of the box. Capital is minimal starting out, as the only investment is a good oven and ingredients.”
Started in: October, 2012
Piece de Resistance: Neha and Sapna swear by their cake pops and chocolates, which they say are a big hit with the kids. Classic desserts like bread butter pudding are what attract the adults. Their star attractions are their cupcakes that come in delectable mint-chocolate, chai latte and red velvet flavours. They also prepare eggless and sugar free cakes. So, the girls are serious when they say they have something for everybody!
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Little Miss’ Kitchen by Rivka Shahani
With a proud line of talented chefs and foodies for family, Rivka Shahani’s natural choice was cooking. After attending a one-week long baking course at the Artisan Institute of Baking, run by Lisa Isaac, Rivka started taking small orders for family and friends. By March 2012, Rivka’s business was in full steam. Ask her what her inspiration is behind the name and she proudly explains, “The name was inspired by yours truly! I’m a bit of a narcissist and I stand proud in my kitchen at 5 feet, 0 inches so Little Miss’ Kitchen seemed apt!” Rivka is of the opinion that one needs to be slow and steady to build a strong business. “Before turning it into a business, you need to really hone your skills, attend a course, experiment, practice. It helps you identify what you’re good at and what your weaknesses are.” says she. This li’l baker started in her kitchen at home, with her mum’s old oven which was unstable and had messed up temperature control! “You don’t need big money to start something. Invest in something that you’re completely sure of.”
Started in: December, 2011
Piece de Resistance: Rivka’s finest creations have been brownies that have travelled far and wide. “They’ve gone to Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore and Singapore! Recently, my red velvet cake has proven to be a favourite among customers.”
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