Chennai-based Keerthana Pasupathy is an extremely talented person. Apart from being a creative home baker, she has handled many other portfolios across different sectors quite efficiently in the past few years. She has remained a media person, a Radio Jockey, a freelance VJ, an award-winning Emcee, a dubbing artist at different times in her life. And, Keerthana embraced success in all such roles. In 2011, she started her journey as an entrepreneur and launched her home baking venture Choco Philla in Chennai. Choco Philla which initially was into handmade chocolate business gradually diversified into customized cakes business. Presently, it also offers 5 exclusively designed baking courses for all budding bakers. Freshly Baked Bread Varieties, Dark Chocolate Cake, Jamuni Vanilla Cake (Gulab Jamun Cake), Mothichoor Vanilla Cake (Ladoo Cake), Fresh Strawberry Cake, Rose Milk Cake, Pistha Cake, Banoffee Pie, Japanese Cotton Cheese Cake and Rich Fruit Plum Cake are some of Choco Philla’s signature products.
Today, in this session, Choco Philla’s founder Keerthana Pasupathy joins us to share her story.
Hi Keerthana, nice to have you in this session at conflatingVisions. Please tell us a few lines about you.
Hey Guys. Thank you so much and it’s definitely my pleasure to be here. I am a go lucky girl, with hands full of work and thoughts full of food. An Entrepreneur, A media person, erstwhile Radio Jockey, Freelance VJ, Award winning Emcee, Dubbing artist. So that’s in short about me.
Wow Keerthana, you are blessed with so many qualities! What inspired you to start baking?
I personally love cooking and anything related to food. I believe it’s in my blood. My grandfather owned a very popular restaurant in Egmore Chennai, which was then so popular even among celebrities is now no more. That’s a bit of history. Now to the present, Choco Philla as the name suggests (Choco – Chocolates, Philla – Love in Greek) initially started as a chocolate company. I used to experiment a lot with baking at home alongside Mum who is one amazing cook. One fine day, I realised that the craze for home-made chocolates in Chennai market is definitely not as high as that for cakes and other bakery products that are being consumed in large quantity by people on daily basis. They were also not that healthy considering the kind of ingredients and the amount of preservatives that went into it.
In my products, I don’t use any kind of preservatives as such and use high-quality ingredients (No Compromise ever on this). In gradual course of time, a variety of Cakes, Cupcakes, Muffins, Breads, Buns, Puffs, Desserts, and a lot more got added to the menu.
How old were you when you first baked something? How was the outcome?
I don’t really remember my first baking experience. I started baking when I was still in school and Mum was around. But, during my 12th-grade vacations, I remember experimenting on the Choco Lava Cake which was so popular then and my little brother was just crazy about them. That’s officially my first solo try from sourcing the ingredients to putting everything together and baking. Mum was off to work and my brother was in school for his annual exams. I wanted to surprise him. The outcome was actually a hit. It didn’t turn out to be oozing and gooey but ended up as a super soft yummy chocolate muffin. A keeper recipe, in fact, it still is!
Tell us about something more about your baking venture Choco Philla.
At Choco Philla, we do take regular, customized, bulk and party orders. I also teach baking. We have five exclusively designed courses for those who want to bake for family or even want to take it up as a serious business.
Being creative is very much important in baking. In what ways do you try to be creative?
In every single way possible. From introducing new flavours to decorations to design ideas. Every single thing. Honestly, these days clients are more creative. They come in with crazy ideas and to put it all together is very challenging and equally exciting.
What are some of the signature items of Choco Philla?
Our Freshly Baked Bread Varieties, Dark Chocolate Cake, Jamuni Vanilla Cake (Gulab Jamun Cake), Mothichoor Vanilla Cake (Ladoo Cake), Fresh Strawberry Cake, Rose Milk Cake, Pistha Cake, Banoffee Pie, Japanese Cotton Cheese Cake, Rich Fruit Plum Cake.
Actually, every single thing on the menu in each category is Choco Philla’s signature items. Every single thing is yummy.
Narrate some of your success stories.
Every single cake has its own success story. Since I do more of customized cakes to get the end result like what the client had expected is a success by itself. Above all having repetitive customer base speaks of our success.
What are the present challenges in this baking business?
Challenges in a very healthy way is to see a lot of home bakers growing every single day. It is real good in one way, but at times newbies don’t really know how to price their products. Their only motive is to grab a lot of orders, end of which they quote really less, honestly which a loss for them, which they don’t understand and customers tend to compare our products’ rates with theirs. But once ordered with us, they never look out for other options.
What are your future plans for Choco Philla?
Positively to own a store in a prime location in Chennai.
Please, share some baking tips.
- Measuring and sieving your ingredients is a must. Eyeballing never works.
- Get your basics right. Invest in learning the art.
- Invest in an OTG.
- Never open the oven door during the first 20 minutes of baking.
- Ensure all your ingredients are in room temperature before starting, unless otherwise, the recipe calls for.
- The temperature’s given in the recipe may not suit your oven. So play around and find out the suitable temperature for your oven.
- Never give up.
Anything else you want to share…
Baking is an art. Once you enter this art, you would never want to look back. And the taste of homemade goodies is irreplaceable. Happy Baking!
Keerthana, one final question of this session, if you have had one wish…
To bake a cake for Superstar and Ulaganayagan and having them cut it together.