Ketki Barfiwala, a Chartered Accountant by qualification is now a full-time professional baker. She has a cake studio with the name Caramella in the beautiful city of Mumbai. Presently, apart from meeting the needs and requirements of customized home baked cakes of clients since August 2014, Caramella also conducts baking classes quite regularly. By now, you must be wondering how did the shift from Chartered Accountancy to professional baking took place for Ketki. And, it is quite obvious to think so!
To tell us in detail about the journey, Ketki Barfiwala, the founder of Caramella, joins us in this interview session with conflatingVisions. The conversation turns out to be an inspiring one and if you are looking for some motivation to pursue what you love, then this post is for you!
Hi Ketki, welcome to this interview session of conflatingVisions. To start with, please tell us a few lines about yourself.
I am a chartered accountant by qualification. But, my love for food and the urge to create and bring to life flavour palettes that I would love to eat led me to create Caramella.
What is your memory of early association with arts?
I started making chocolates at the age of 10 after a small summer course. What started as a summer hobby turned into a passion over the years.
When did you decide to make a career in baking?
Not long time back. In fact, I am actually a Chartered Accountant by ‘profession’. While I was studying, I would bake regularly for my friends at college, tuition classes, and work. You know, this birthday, that occasion, and so on. But it was their response that made me realize how much I enjoyed baking. I started getting orders, and decided to pursue it full time, and voila! Caramella was born.
Now, apart from running the bakery, I also conduct baking classes in Mumbai and teach aspiring bakers, which I absolutely enjoy.
Did you ever go to baking classes at a baker school to learn baking?
I did attend various baking classes and baking workshops held around the city but not any formal baking school.
I recently also attended a chocolate making workshop in Brussels.
Please tell us about your home bakery Caramella.
Caramella is an Italian word meaning candy or sweetmeat. I did not want a generic name for my brand. At Caramella, we aim to use the freshest local produce, free of preservative and our products are always made to order, which means no pre stored or days old dessert. Most of our menu is egg free and gelatin free. We are a back end kitchen located in Santacruz and we deliver all over Mumbai and Navi Mumbai. We also are a teaching studio.
Ketki, tell us something about your baking classes in Mumbai.
I conduct basic baking classes on Cakes, Cupcakes, Desserts and Chocolate Bakes. I have upcoming Cheesecakes, Macarons and Chocolate workshops.
How is the demand for baking workshops in Mumbai?
Mumbai is a great market for baking workshops. We are lucky to have access to a huge audience that is not only willing to learn but also shows a keen interest and considers this to be a professional activity.
How was the feeling when you got your first order as a professional baker?
Overjoyous. Well maybe overwhelmed. The order came from a dear friend who is a huge inspiration and constant support.
What are some of the signature products of Caramella? Which one is your personal favourite?
The Chocolate Taj Mahal, Nutella Modaks, Hazelnut Nutella Cake Jar, Caramel Sea Salt and Chocolate Cake are our signature products.
My personal favourite has to be the Raspberry White Chocolate Cake Jar. Our cake jars are our signature products. They are perfect gifts as they are portable and customizable. I also love the Hazelnut Feuilletine Dessert and Apple Crumble Pie.
Being a baker, what are some of the challenges in life? How do you deal with them?
Since we have a very humid weather here in Mumbai, the biggest challenge with cakes is executing and delivery since we deliver all over Mumbai. Also, the constant comparison on price points with generic bakery chains is deterring. But the thought process is changing and the audience does realize that they pay for the quality, cleanliness and time involved in creating the product. Slowly but steadily, awareness is getting created.
Another very important part about having a baking business so to say is the business aspect. I am truly passionate about baking but the business comes with multiple aspects besides the baking itself. Often, making yourself available to each aspect is a challenge.
Narrate some of your success stories.
We got featured in the Bombay Times in an article by food critic Rashmi Uday Singh for our chocolate Taj Mahal.
What plans do you have to scale up the operations of Caramella?
Well like any other entrepreneur, I would like to see my brand flourishing and up on hoardings all over the city! The plan is simple, we will keep doing what we do best and give our clients the best quality of products at reasonable prices and warm customer care because the secret ingredient is love. And, we make love edible!
Anything else you want to share…
For further inquiries, you could also write in at firstname.lastname@example.org. We work only on order basis, so as to provide the best quality desserts, which are baked fresh according to a client’s specifications and parameters. Furthermore, we also customise the orders to suit the client’s budget and requirement. All our products are eggless!
We currently operate from our kitchen in Santacruz and deliver all over Mumbai.
And Ketki, one last question of this session, if you have had one wish…
Oh well, my wishes are many! But let me just say I wish I get to bake all the time and not worry about the business aspect of it!