In India, where it is drilled into children that a career beyond conventional engineering and medicine is a big gamble, making a mid-career switch is still unheard of. Many millennials in the city are not afraid to invest in themselves and follow their heart. Chucking ‘traditionally lucrative professions’, they are turning their eye to their passion, in this case – baking. A buzzword at the moment, with tons of bakers cropping up in the city, culinary arts is no longer seen with a jaundiced eye by concerned parents, but rather with renewed interest. With the city’s food industry offering dynamic opportunities for baking mavericks, everyone wants their finger in the proverbial pie.
Baker on the hill
Aditi Punetha plunged into a career in the corporate world after graduating with a degree in Computer Science from CBIT. But, the nine-hour working days eventually got tiresome and Aditi, who often sought solace in baking, turned her attention to whipping up confectionery items as a potential career. Her stray thought kicked off a highly successful baking venture called Baker on the Hill which has attracted a loyal clientele over the one-and-a-half years it has been around.
“My mother and sister used to bake frequently so I was inspired by them in a way. Fortunately, they were supportive when I told them that I wanted to quit my job after nine months of working in the corporate world,” says Aditi. In a day, she spends 9 to 10 hours working on cakes, fruit truffles, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, muffins, macaroons, et al. “It’s far more satisfying to spend hours baking a cake or pies than working at a desk. And the joy you see on the faces of your clients when they see an idea given form is priceless,” adds Aditi.
While she had off-hand experience with baking, her decision to take it on professionally required a fair understanding of how the field worked. “I went to study everything about baking at Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts in Bengaluru and then worked with The Westin, Concu, and Bombay Canteen restaurant to get hands-on experience. That really helped me understand the nitty-gritty, things to keep in mind, where one can go wrong and how to avoid mistakes,” adds Aditi whose follower base and clientele is courtesy Instagram. She now takes baking classes for people as passionate about baking as her.
The Willow Bake Shop
Twenty six-year-old Sujit Seshadri always had a dream to open a small dessert store. That dream came true three-and-a-half months ago when he and two others opened The Willow Bake Shop in Banjara Hills. The quaint patisserie which is named after one of Sujit’s favourite novels The Wind in the Willows has very quickly become popular among youngsters and the old alike for its mouthwatering sourdough pizzas and breads, sandwiches and a smattering of coffees.
“I trained to be a veterinarian doctor and worked for a year. I was happy doing it, but I had always been into baking so I thought why not give it a try and see where it goes,” says Sujit. Understandably, it took a fair amount of convincing with his parents to let him take the gamble and eventually they were on board with his idea. “My friends also supported my decision as they have been eating what I have baked over the years,” adds Sujit who enrolled in himself in a six-month course at the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts in Bengaluru.
Together with his partners Chaitali Pednekar and Md Imaad, he creates delightful made-to-order cakes, breads and other savoury delicacies, and the trio carved a niche for themselves in the city’s foodscape.
Pastel Baking Co.
Rasvin Sawhney is running a very successful baking company called Pastel Baking Co. in East Marredpally where she bakes mouth-watering cakes and cupcakes at her baking studio that her father built for her. Not feeling contented with her job at an MNC, Rasvin chose to take a turn in her career and walk towards her passion which is baking.
“I have always been baking with my mom since childhood. After I finished college, I worked at a corporate place and tried to pursue an MBA but it wasn’t keeping me motivated and I wanted to do something to explore my creative side. It was not something I would picture myself doing for the rest of my life. And so, I took up a small baking course and did some experimentation on my own as well and so that’s how Pastel started,” the 26-year-old baker recalls.
Having started to bake around four years ago, Rasvin was always appreciated for her products by her customers and family which catapulted her to fame in a very short span. Now, Rasvin is more than happy with her profession, and is packed with orders throughout the year, which sometimes demands her to work for 16 hours at a stretch. She also plans to open a store of her own taking her delicacies to more people.
With a philanthropic motive and sheer passion towards baking, Carolyn Joyce gave birth to Eclaire Pastissierie to raise funds for her social work. By raising around 20 children, who manage the shop completely today, Carolyn started Eclaire in 2014 to support these children and bring them to a better stage in life.
“Carolyn always had a passion for baking since childhood. When we had to start a business to motivate and also raise funds for these children, we chose to open a bakery. Through the funds raised by the bakery, we could decorate a better picture to these kids who once wanted to be auto drivers and constables, and elevate their hope and desire,” shares Carolyn’s husband Rajiv.
“Baking was always her go-to job. Going through a lot of training and courses in the field, Carolyn has brought many new recipes to Eclaire that left the customers craving for more. Her cheese cake was the most famous,” says Rajiv.
Eclaire is now managed by a few of those 20 kids. Carolyn, who is presently in the banking sector in the US to manage her family responsibilities, looks forward to getting back to her passion – baking – again.