Interviewed by Deepti: June 2020
When and how did you develop your passion for cooking and baking in specific? Please tell us about your journey.
I’ve been fascinated by baking for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is baking brownies for the first time with my aunt. However, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and joined Law School. That lasted for exactly 2 weeks. I realized that law wasn’t for me and moved to Switzerland to study hospitality management at Cesar Ritz College. I then decided to study pastry and Le Cordon Bleu, France. I was in culinary school in Paris when I tried my first macaron and it was love at first bite. I knew then that I would move back to India and try to make them. Le 15 took off in 2010. It has been a long journey – one of the most satisfying ones so far, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the future.
At the time, there were not any stand-alone pastry shops in India, except maybe with the exception of one or two. I wanted to bring that culture to India and set up Le 15, which had been my dream.
How did Le15 start? Is there the story behind the name of the bakery?
After I moved back to India, I was clear on one thing, I wanted to recreate a piece of my life in Paris. To make wonderful desserts, using the best ingredients I could find and serve happiness in a box. And that is how Le 15 (named for the 15th arrondissement in Paris, the
Neighbourhood where I lived) was born. I tried my first macaroon in Paris and knew instantly that this would be the piece of Paris I would bring back to India with me.
We have heard a lot of buzz about Le15’s mission macaroons and unique desserts? Do you think the Indian consumer market is ready for complicated French desserts? Do you plan to bring desserts from other parts of the world for us too?
Le15 Patisserie completed ten years in March, so we’ve been making macaroons in India for ten years. The Indian consumer has really appreciated it and the demand has only grown over the years. The Indian consumer is definitely ready for French desserts and more complex flavours. We are a French inspired patisserie and we will continue to bring French inspired desserts to India.
Can you tell us about the Le15 training institute and how can an amateur baker benefit from it?
At Le15, we do some cooking and baking classes. We usually do them at our Central
Kitchen in Parel. But recently, we’ve started doing them online on Zoom. An amateur baker can join any of our classes and learn how to better their baking skills.
Are there new stores and projects in the pipeline for Le15? What does the future hold for the baking industry given the pandemic situation?
We are taking it each day at a time and really working on the future of Le15. The baking industry is one that will always survive and thrive because people always need joy in their lives. We can’t wait to get back to our central kitchen and continue to spread joy and happiness with our product.
What are your plans for re-opening Le15 studio and café? How much are you relying on social media for sustainability in the business right now? Have you started deliveries of products?
Unfortunately, we haven’t started deliveries yet. We are waiting for the lockdown to lift and then we will reopen the patisserie.
Do you plan to experiment with Indian sweets as well? What are your views on fusion desserts?
We are a ten-year-old brand and we have been doing Indian flavors with french techniques ever since we started. This could be a chai macaron or a green chili macaron. We have a saffron cupcake, a coconut macaron which was inspired by barfi.
With growing health consciousness, how do you plan to approach and fulfil the requirement for such clientele? Do you have Vegan and gluten-free dessert options as well?
While all our macaroons are gluten-free, we always get requests from customers for specific dietary requirements – gluten free, no refined sugar, vegan, and keto to name a few for most of the desserts. To fulfil this and cater to a growing “health conscious” audience we have introduced a healthy range of desserts called Le15 Lite. This line of desserts has a combination of healthy cakes, keto and gluten-free cookies, keto mousse, and even a vegan dark chocolate macaron.
What would you tell an amateur baker who also dreams of making it big in this overcrowded market?
There are no shortcuts to achieving anything. Be patient, put in the work, and take the leap.
With Covid-19 as our new normal, how do you plan to cope up and what would be the new normal for you.
The new normal is changing on a day to day basis and we are just waiting to see what the new normal will be when we actually do start our business again. There will be a lot of
adaptations that we will have to make whether it is in terms of hygiene and safety of not only our employees but also our customers. We plan to implement all the recommended guidelines which will now become a part of the new normal.