Aug 17, 2016
The story of a pregnant woman craving brownies was just the push Kainaz Messman and her mum needed to start a patisserie in Mumbai in 2004. Twelve years on and after being crowned the ‘Queen of Brownies’, she is now ready to give the city a taste of her family burgers. In an interview with India Food Network, Kainaz Messman shares the story of her signature dessert, her favourite cafe in Mumbai and her latest venture, Three Chicks & A Bear.
How did you chance upon the idea of Three Chicks & a Bear? Why did you name it so?
Our family has a genuine love for burgers. We have wanted to serve well-made, generous, meaty burgers for a very long time. Our name is the depiction of the family behind the business. The matriarchal head and her two daughters are represented by the Three Chicks. Dad and his glasses have been woven into the story as a Bear.
Tell us about the new place – the food, the vibe, and who are you targeting?
The vibe is casual, we want the place to be relaxed, and the food to be enjoyed. We also want people to grab their burgers with both hands and require a wet wipe to clean up after.
Pastry chefs are now stepping out of their comfort zone and venturing into food with cafes, restaurants et al. What are your thoughts on the trend?
Pastry chefs have a background in food, which probably precedes their specialisation in pastry. A professional qualification is not a minimum requirement, and it does not provide any assurance of success. Anyone, trained or self-taught, can make a success of their venture provided they get the balance of quality, quantity, taste and price right.
When you started out, Mumbai hardly had a pastry scene to boast of. How has your journey been so far? Tell us what inspired you to bake.
I grew up in a sweet-smelling house. My mom supplied cakes and desserts from home, Theobroma is, but an extension of that business. We did not have a 10-year or 10-month plan. We put together a menu of some of the items we like to eat, renovated a small property and hoped for the best.
Did you have a plan or it just happened that brownies became Theobroma’s signature dessert?
A pregnant lady in our building craved brownies and begged mum to bake them for her. That is how we got started. Several months later, a family friend was served a dry brownie and complained to the restaurant owner, he suggested that they get their brownies from us. This started our commercial journey with brownies. We then experimented and had fun with them and created a range of brownies when we opened Theobroma. Brownies are still the cornerstone of our business and outsell everything else many times over.
In a market as saturated as Mumbai, what does it take to survive as an entrepreneur?
Maintaining product quality to ensure customers return, and selling in sufficient volume to cover the rent.
Any plans to venture out of Mumbai?
We are working on it, and we hope to open in Delhi this year.
Can we expect some classic Theobroma desserts at Three Chicks & a Bear?
The space in Lower Parel is being shared by both brands. Three Chicks & a Bear has a small offering of desserts that is unique to the brand, this includes Warm Cookie Dough and Croissant Bread Pudding. All Theobroma products will also be available there.
1. Your favourite dessert in the world is…
2. The dessert capital of the world is…
3. What is your secret to a perfect brownie?
Baking it right. It is a balance between the correct timing and temperature.
4. Three ingredients you cannot do without…
Chocolate, Vanilla, Cream.
5. If you were to pick a dessert from a Mumbai cafe (other than yours), what would it be?
Kala Ghoda Café. It’s small and sweet, serves good quality food and coffee.