How Can Home Chefs Scale Up? Insights from India Cake Fest
India Cake Fest, a two-day festival at Sheila Raheja Institute of Hotel Management (SRIHM), organised by Enquo Experiential Communications, was not just about cakes, though they were certainly in prominence. The event featured various workshops, competitions, meet and greet opportunities with celebrity chefs and a panel discussion on the theme - 'Scale your passion'.
Siddhi Shetty, baker, artist and owner of Pamplemousse Cakes
Baking artist Siddhi Shetty had the audience transfixed with her demonstration of painting on cakes and making edible flowers and decorations. The proprietor of Pamplemousse Cakes in Andheri, Mumbai makes her own hand-crafted edible flowers from gum paste and uses natural food colours like cocoa dust.
Chef Priti Punjabi from SRIHM kicked off the panel discussion by asking the audience, comprised mainly of culinary students, about the meaning of 'passion'. The most entertaining answer came from a devoted husband who said, "Passion is being here because my wife is a home baker."
The panellists for the discussion were Rajeshree Naik, Co-Founder, Ping Network; Chef Rakhee Vaswani, Owner, Palate Culinary Studio; Rajesh Sanghvi from Delta Ingredients, Tushar Khakhar of Agency09 digital agency and Saloni Malkani, Co-Founder, FBAI.
Chef Rakhee Vaswani (right) said she was always more enamoured by her neighbours' cooking!
"To scale up, add an accreditation," advised Chef Rakhee Vaswani. She would know, having learnt cooking at the tender age of 11. "Curiosity is the first step to wisdom. You need to be a sponge and absorb whatever you can," she added, while also affirming that a home baker "is the first person who would convert her passion into a profession with ease."
The discussion veered to how a digital presence has being nearly as important as good kitchen skills for home chefs hoping to make it big.
Rajeshree Naik, Co-Founder, Ping Network (extreme right) offered three important tips
Rajeshree Naik kept it pithy with three short tips. "First, hone your skills. If you're not good, the Internet is not good to you. Second, experiment with people and cooking. Thirdly, do it in the language you know because regional languages are much bigger than English." In May, India Food Network is launching IFN Homemade, which aims to make it easier for home chefs to be known.
Rajesh Sanghvi spoke of the importance of choosing the right ingredients, even for home chefs. "How many of you know the difference between pure and compound chocolate?" he asked. "Most desserts contain chocolate and many times it's compound chocolate as it has a higher melting point. But pure chocolate will always taste richer and is more beneficial for your health as well," he said.
Cakes on display at India Cake Fest
Saloni Malkani captured the audience's attention with her story of finding a small-time baker via her stunning photo of a whisky cake on Instagram. "Sitting at home, you can create a brand for yourself. Conduct to the right people by joining a community. Post everyday and set small, realistic goals," she advised.
Tushar Khakhar reminded the audience that the rules of passion and business haven't changed even with the digital revolution. "Your website is your virtual office. Social media like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are amplifying mediums but years down the line, you can only pull out information from your website. It makes you find-able on the Internet," he emphasised.