A baking specialist creates cakes, cookies, biscuits, pastries. S/he can work at the pastry substation in a hotel or restaurant or have his/her own business.
For a specialist, the presentation of a product is as important as its taste and flavour. A cake, therefore, has to have the perfect icing, which does not only taste good, but has to look tempting enough too. From fruits like strawberries to passionfruit, to mangoes... the creativity of a baking speciality can be unfettered provided he or she is talented enough. Many baking specialists like Kishi Arora, however, want to focus more on flavours and has even tried basil with desserts.
What do they do?
Jamaican Mamba: A dark, moist fruit cake with Tia Maria. Chocolate Grinch: Nutty fudge with hints of toffee, caramel and French sea salt. Mocha Madness: Bittersweet chocolate cake with mocha custard. Chocolate Cheesecake: A wicked amalgamation of cream cheese and dark chocolate. Ahhh!
Now, before we chocolate and crème puff addicts get overly excited and spill morning coffees over our newspapers and go rummaging in our refrigerators for that last bit of Toblerone, let us say a short, sweet prayer for the wonderful people who create all these sweet temptations and keep us so contented with our lot...
Kishi Arora, who runs Foodaholics (the tempting confections featured above are from her menu) and Arshi Jhautia, owner of Cravings, both based in Delhi, love to get down and dirty with the sweet stuff.
The two ladies were also influenced by talented (female, mind you) cooks in the family during their childhood. Jhautia’s mother had a fascinating array of cakes popping out of the oven, which had Arshi yearning to pick up the bowl and start doing her own whipping and churning. Arora, who grew up with her grandparents in Delhi because her parents were in Singapore, got her inspiration from her naani conjuring up exotic dishes in her kitchen.
The initial steps were taken far away from kitchens, though. Jhautia, who did her graduation and postgraduation in history from Delhi University before getting a degree in law from there, has no formal qualifications when it comes to baking. While she was doing a course in interiors, something told her she was on the wrong path and soon she started thinking of her own venture — which is how Cravings was born. It started off as a very simple affair, “using mom’s old English ovens and a few cake tins”. Marketing was done by word-of-mouth. She didn’t advertise, but soon most food guides published by top newspapers started giving her kind reviews — which worked very well for her.
Arora joined the Shri Ram College of Commerce after passing out of the Air Force Bal Bharati School. It was only after getting her degree that she toyed with the idea of doing something with food, took a loan and went to study at the Culinary Institute of America. “I had in the period after college handled my dad’s business in Delhi and decided I did not want to spend my life in front of a computer and so dropped the idea of going to the London School of Economics or Australia — as planned earlier.”
“Food was always a passion and I was very inspired by cookery shows on TV, especially Yan Can Cook,” says Arora. “So, at home in naani’s kitchen, I would put things in glass bowls and pretend I was doing a live demo for a TV show and talk to myself and the cook. My maid thought I was quite loony...”
Baking happened entirely by default. A vegetarian, Arora hated the thought of “butchering” chicken and other live things and went in for something that didn’t require her to harm any living creatures.
She launched Foodaholics after stints at Four Seasons California and Singapore and doing food consultancy in the US. Then, a friend wanted her to help him introduce doughnuts in India. “After doing various flavours for him, I realised doughnuts were not the end of the world and wanted to do something of my own.
The business took off on a nice note and today I am very happy with my own little community, where I interact with people, have a fan page on Facebook.”
She pampers her clients by giving them flavours to die for and customises cakes for them. “I can do a cranberry cake with cream and blueberries for you, or even do an audacious dessert with basil leaves... flavours are something I like to focus on, and people really go for the unique stuff,” she says.
Arora invested Rs 50,000 in her business and works from home – a three-storeyed house, and delivers “everywhere” in Delhi-NCR.
The busy season for both Arora and Jhautia begins around October — during festive and wedding seasons. Jhautia has at times averaged about 200 cakes a day and Arora says she has done 3,000-3,500 cakes thus far... each recipe carefully selected by her. “No two cakes of mine are the same,” she says proudly.
. Creativity. You have to be innovative and creative to come up with interesting recipes
. You have to have good managerial skills to lead teams if working in a hotel or a restaurant
. You have to have a sound head for business if running your own venture
How do I get there?
A degree or a certificate course in baking after Class XII helps. Experience counts so that you can either join a restaurant or apprentice with a good chef.
A degree in hotel management is the best route to the profession.