I wonder how many of us would take the risk of quitting a high paying stable career to pursue a profession of our dreams. I am quite sure that not many would do so. But, Kolkata-based Sayantani Mukherjee took the other way which was full of challenges and uncertainty. Sayantani originally hails from the beautiful Indian city of Siliguri. After completing studies, she started her professional career in banking. She was a quite successful banker and enjoyed every bit of her banking job. However, for the need of her family, and, moreover, for the sake of her dreams, she didn’t hesitate to resign from her decade-long banking career. Sayantani’s long cherished dream was to establish herself as a professional baker. Cake decoration is something which has always fascinated her since her childhood days. It gradually took the form of a serious passion for her in the later years. Sayantani Mukherjee is now a successful baker. Her baking venture is “Sayantani’s Culinary Delights”. The proud cake decorating artist from Kolkata considers it to be her another baby.
We are quite happy that Sayantani Mukherjee listened to her heart’s desires and is chasing her dreams. We believe she would go a long long way. Today, Sayantani joins us in this interview session of conflatingVisions to narrate her inspiring story to our readers.
Hi Sayantani, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To begin with, we would like you to say a few lines about you.
I hail from a small town in the foothills of the Himalayas, Siliguri. It was only during my college days that I shifted to Kolkata. Before stepping into this wonderful world of baking, I have been a banker with some of the top MNCs and also a Private Banker with HDFC Bank for a couple of years before I finally decided to call it quits and giving more time to my son as balancing professional and personal life was becoming quite a challenging affair.
How was your first baking experience?
Good question. It was the experience of continuous failures when I was aspiring to bake my first tea cakes that got me where I am today, the world of professional baking. The beauty of cakes always allured me and was a great mystery which I was dying to unravel. And thanks to some of my wonderful teachers who helped me in the journey. I was only a couple of cakes old when I bagged my first order for a colleague’s daughter’s birthday. Soon word started spreading and orders started pouring in.
When did you choose to take up baking as your profession? What was the inspiration behind the decision?
It was even before I professionally learnt cakes that I started dreaming of taking up baking, especially cake decorating as my profession. I had a gut feeling that if you are able to design attractive cakes and there is a medium through which people can view them, it could work wonders. Infact, I was just about thinking of settling down looking after my family and child when I decided to quit my decade long career, never imagining, I would come across something I would love to take up so soon.
And inspite of doing my first few orders I did not know whether to expect the next one to come. But orders touchwood started pouring in. My better half then gave me the idea of starting my Facebook page in June 2015 and Sayantani’s Culinary Delights was born. It is only through my Facebook that I have promoted my business so far.
Is baking your full-time profession now?
Yes though I still get offers from the financial sector on and off. But I exactly know what I want to do.
Sayantani, tell us about Sayantani’s Culinary Delights.
Sayantani’s Culinary Delights was born one fine evening when my better half suggested it was time I had my own page on Facebook. It’s like my own baby and it’s a delight seeing it grow infront of my eyes everyday. I am a person who would give the same effort for even the smallest of orders, as for me every cake is a new opportunity. And indeed it has given me results. I try to put myself in my customer’s shoes and believe it’s the customer’s trust and faith in you which matters the most. One satisfied customer can give you ten more. This is the principle I like to follow. I work mainly with repeat customers and references from the clients I worked for, apart from new clients of course.
How is the craze for customized designer cakes in Kolkata?
Had I not stepped into this profession I wouldn’t have realized the kind of potential that Kolkata market has for customized designer cakes. People are ready to shell out money if you can give them satisfactory results. However, like all other cities, there are a set of clients who also like to compare prices with local bakeries. The challenge is to make them realize the differences in quality of ingredients used, the freshness, the taste and the finish of the final product.
Being creative is very much important in every profession. Sayantani, how do you blend creativity in your baked creations?
It’s the creativity of cake decorating that allured me to this world. For me, it’s very difficult to repeat my earlier cakes as I always want to try out something which I have never done before. I love working with whipped cream, fondant and ganache. Sharp edges are something I love working on and also drips and coloured ganache. I love using my imagination in combining various flavours and creating something unique. And it’s a delight when some clients are generous enough to trust you with the flavour and decor and are open to experimentation.
What are the signature items of Sayantani’s Culinary Delights?
Chocolate mousse cakes with rich truffle sauce and red velvet cake with traditional cream-cheese frosting, choco caramel nutty delight with homemade praline and creamy caramel sauce, chocolate overload, flavourful fresh fruit gateaux, baked blueberry cheesecake, creamy chocolate mousse cupcakes, chocolate boat pastries, chocolate and lemon tarts, stuffed and flavoured breads and buns both veg and non-veg, chocolate chunk and melting moment cookies and exotic centre filled chocolates and truffles to list a few. These are my hot sellers.
Sayantani, how is the journey so far for you as a professional baker?
It is extremely satisfying and though at times the pressure is too much to absorb when deadlines are short or the theme is too critical or the heat melts your cream and ganache and makes it difficult to work with fondant. This is a profession where you have to be home and cannot plan your day as per your wish. And yes, there are hardly any weekends free, though I must say I am enjoying every bit of it.
It’s also not easy to balance work and family when you work from home as expectations of people around you are very different. But I am extremely lucky as my husband is a great support and encouragement and my son my greatest critique and leaves no stones unturned to help me out in every possible way. End of the day, the satisfaction of clients and their great reviews work wonders. Also, every new order you do teaches you something new. I try to work on client feedbacks very earnestly to better myself everyday.
What keeps you motivated?
That I finally found out my true passion and is getting an opportunity to follow my dreams is the greatest motivation. It feels great when people appreciate you for your courage to have taken up something new, acknowledge your good work and inspire you. Few of my students have also started taking up orders and they feel I am a role model to them. If my work can be a motivation to youngsters to take up baking as a career what more do you need to keep yourself motivated?
How challenging is baking as a profession? How do you overcome the challenges?
Each new theme is a challenge and you are likely to lose sleep over it. Another challenge in this profession is keeping yourself abreast with newer techniques coming up everyday. You have to adapt yourself constantly with the changes and also maintain your unique style. Last moment orders are also a great challenge for a one man army.
I am slowly managing to take it in my stride. Balancing out your own chores is quite challenging as you cannot choose to work as per your timings because you never know when a last moment order is about to be finalized.
Tell us about your future plans for Sayantani’s Culinary Delights.
It’s a dream to open up my confectionery line one day which would cater to tailormade solutions as per a client’s unique needs and provide outstanding customer service. I want Sayantani’s Culinary Delights to be a household name one day. But I am in no hurry.
What would be your advice to those who wish to pursue baking as a profession?
Patience, perseverance and belief in yourself are the key. Even a negative experience is a learning and if taken in a positive stride can be a key to your success. You have to fall in love with baking to take up baking as a profession.
Anything else you want to share…
I am very lucky to have come across some of the best teachers who have helped me get a thorough insight into the techniques of cake decoration. I am indebted to them. It’s the correct techniques which with constant practice help you to create something flawless. I also strive to constantly experiment with newer flavours and combinations and try not to be repetitive in terms of designs and flavours. I believe in sincerity and honesty and having an MNC background in the best possible customer service.
And, one last question of this session Sayantani, if you have had one wish…
I have a wish to get an opportunity to learn from some of the best chefs and cake decorators worldwide. I have already made a secret list of such persons.
If you are a cake lover and is based in Kolkata, then we highly recommend you to get in touch with Sayantani’s Culinary Delights for cake orders. And, we are quite sure that Sayantani Mukherjee wouldn’t disappoint you!