Tara Sondhi On Starting A Home Bakery & Its Challenges
While there is a rise in the number of home-based entrepreneurs in the baking or patisserie business, 24-year-old baker Tara Sondhi believes there’s always scope to look for innovation and diversity in order to keep a brand going. Delhi- based Sondhi started — ‘Blissful Bakes by Tara’ — from her kitchen and plans to open her own cafe.
In a conversation with SheThePeople.TV, Sondhi talks about her venture, challenges she faces, her ambitions, and more.
On becoming a professional baker
Sondhi, who has had a passion for baking since her childhood, religiously followed shows like MasterChef Australia/USA/Hell’s Kitchen/My Kitchen Rules etc. Her hobby eventually led her to study a three-year course at the ITC College in Manipal: Welcomgroup Academy of Culinary Arts.
“I wanted to learn more about culinary and patisserie, so I applied to Le Cordon Bleu London and was awarded the Grande Diplome Certificates (which included both Cuisine and Patisserie). I learnt French bakes and cuisine and then after I completed the course, I came home to India and kept baking for family and friends. Soon after, I knew that this is something I love and enjoy doing and that’s how ‘Blissful Bakes by Tara’ happened.
Brand’s signature products
While brownies are her personal favourite, some of the signature products of her brand include Pavlova Eggs with Lemon Curd, New York Baked Cheesecake with a Lemon Glaze andLemon Drizzle Cake.
Challenging baking ideas
The quest to perfect a particular dish time and again is what Sondhi feels is what it takes to be an innovative pastry chef. “Making a proper quiche – the base/blind baking is something that needs a lot of practice on my end. I am more into the sweet side of baking but I have been getting requests to start savoury, so once I get my hands set on the quiche dough baking, I think that I would have accomplished my challenge.”
“The main challenge in this day and age is the amount of competition there is for home bakers in India”
Sondhi believes that though the rise in home-bakers is positive, it also adds pressure to revive a brand’s existence from time to time. “These days wherever you go, the demand for home baked goodies is only multiplying, and, especially with the new and upcoming variations like keto diet, gluten-free diet etc.”
Scaling up operations of the brand
Sondhi, who, at the back of her mind, has always had a dream to open her own cafe and bakery one day, feels there are certain accomplishments which only happen at the right time and therefore, she adds, one should never rush into things. “I am just taking it one step at a time for now — trying to build an audience of consumers for showcasing my products, using the means of social media and word of mouth. Slowly, I would love to expand into the wider range and then eventually I wish to open up a cafe/bakery,” she shares.
“There’s a lot more to baking than what people actually think – it requires immense passion, skill and commitment”
Her advice to those looking to make their careers in baking is exactly what she practises every single day in her kitchen. “It’s not going to be easy, you will have many challenges along the way. However, you have to be very precise and accurate when it comes to measuring ingredients, following recipes etc. Keep in mind that it’s your passion that should never die. What’s important is to remember that it’s always going to be a fun ride once you get down to it.”
Push from the digital world
She credits the social media platforms for the rise in the popularity of her brand. “The digital world has been my main means of reaching out to potential customers. I am constantly experimenting with new recipes and adding them to the website/page for it to reach a larger audience in real time.”
“With every ounce of confidence that increases within a woman, there’s an inspirational story ready for other women to follow and realise that they, too, have it in them to fulfil their dreams and achieve greater heights”
So what does Sondhi feel about women balancing work and home?
“As more and more women join the professional work force, a gradual change will take place within society. In fact, we are seeing this change take place even as we speak. As women gain confidence, they will inspire other women and men to explore newer avenues by which they contribute to the development of the society and of their personal growth. This will set in motion a virtuous circle that will step by step remove the stigmas that are attached to women.”
What inspires her?
“While I don’t have any specific women in mind, there are certain qualities I admire in women like reliability, hard work, their fight for independence, their ability to encourage other women, and open-mindedness.”
How can one imbibe innovation and maintain an originality at the same time in the food industry?
“Molecular gastronomy is at the forefront of the food technology and a great interest is being shown for this worldwide”
“In the food industry, entrepreneurs can be encouraged to experiment with the fusion of different cuisines, not only within their country but across continents as well,” she adds.
Advice to aspiring entrepreneurs
For any entrepreneur of any scale, the most significant pointers to keep mind are the most simple ones. “Enjoy your work, be passionate about what you do and why you do it, look for mentors and remember entrepreneurship trait is neither male nor female: it is gender neutral.”