Food. The one thing all of us – and I mean all of us – secretly live for. Yes yes, we know you’re supposed to eat to live and not the other way around, but we all know that’s a lie by pretentious people with small appetites. Don’t believe us? We here at The Yellow Sparrow have selected a few of our favourite people related to the food and beverages industry, who whip up such delicious, delectable delights, that will have you drooling for more.
1. A Frenchy Affair
Pooja Dhingra, Le15
Pooja Dhingra’s love story with baking started when she was six years old, when she made brownies for the first time. She would take her baked goodies to school, where they would be wiped out in no time. So when she decided to pursue law in college, it was only a matter of two weeks till she realized her true calling lay not in amendments and by-laws, but in the hospitality sector. She packed her bags and took off to Switzerland for hotel management studies and later to Le Cordon Bleu, in Paris, France where she did an extensive course in baking. It was in the most beautiful city of the world where her relationship with macaroons started.
She realized that those petite desserts were pretty much unheard of in Mumbai, where she belonged to, so she came back and made it her mission to describe to India what macaroons really are like- through her dessert parlour, Le 15, which is now associated with macaroons and is one of the most famous patisseries in Mumbai. She currently has four branches of the patisserie across Mumbai, but plans to open two more this year.
Her patisserie has several standard macarons flavours that are available all year round, and releases some special flavours during festivals or limited selected flavours that are inspired by her travels across the globe.
She says being a woman and in a male-dominated was not easy for her; she had problems starting out, finding suppliers and real estate agents who wanted to work for her but she was never one to give up, she viewed everything that came her way with optimism. It worked for her –she is now super successful with Le 15 being frequented by celebs, sportspersons and politicians alike, and has been featured in the Forbes 30 under 30 list and has also released a book, The Big Book of Treats, which was declared winner in the category of ‘Best French Cuisine’ in the World Gourmand Awards 2015.
2. Such A-Mason Chocolate!
Jane Mason, Mason & Co.
Who would like standard chocolates filled with preservatives and artificial flavours made from poor quality cacao beans when there are fine exotic chocolates, crafted to perfection, free of emulsifiers and chemicals, made from organic cacao beans in India, which help farmers sustain themselves? That’s Mason & Co. chocolate for you. Started by Jane Mason, who came to India from France with serious chocolate love, she began making homemade chocolate for her family and friends after she faced a “chocolate drought”. This expanded to being a firm when she realized India, indeed, is a country severely deprived of variety in good quality chocolate. Chocolates are produced in a small artisan factory in Auroville, Tamil Nadu using cacao beans that have passed their quality check and set standards.
What is all the more special about her is that she gives back to the community as much as she takes from it, if not more. She sources beans from three farmers (two in Tamil Nadu and one in Karnataka) and visits their fields often, teaches them new methods of farming and gives practical advice on how to improve the quality even more. The chocolate is organic, vegan and healthy. They also believe in full transparency; you can trace your chocolate to the farm that produced the cacao beans it was made from.
Jane Mason is one of those rare entrepreneurs who has not been sucked into the profit making dimension of business that has conquered the heart and soul of most firms. She has kept organically grown ingredients and the development of the community around her of utmost importance; her chocolates aren’t made to make money, they’re made to spread love.
3. A Maestro of Mixology
Yangdup Lama, Cocktails & Dreams
Darjeeling-born Yangdup Lama’s CV is the stuff that dreams are made of.
He started his career at the Hyatt Regency in New Delhi, where he worked for about four years. Apart from having received numerous awards throughout his career like The Best Bartender of the Year, the mixologist and bartender has been a consultant and beverage trainer for hotel chains like Taj, Oberoi, ITC and Park Hotels and a master trainer for programmes like Johnnie Walkers Bartenders Club and Bacardi Bar League. He is the owner of Cocktails & Dreams, India’s first Speakeasy bar and has also published a cocktail book by the same name. He has also launched a beverage school, Cocktails & Dreams Bar and Beverage Management, which provides bartending courses for those with a flair and passion for bartending.
He also provides consultancy services to beverage companies, bars, restaurants and professionals and is currently responsible for designing drinks at PepsiCo and is a cocktail trainer at Angostura Aromatic Bitters. Did we mention he was bartending for a dinner that Bill Clinton was invited to by the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh? And he has bartended for Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor’s wedding?
Yes, now you know what we were talking about when we mentioned his CV?
He’s exceptionally talented, with brilliant and unparalleled creativity. He knows exactly what tastes fabulous with which ingredient and what should be avoided. With skill and talent like his, it’s no surprise that he’s achieved so much in the two decades he’s been in the bartending industry.
4. A Stroke of Gastronomic Genius
Saransh Goila, apart from being one of the most talented celebrity chefs of India, is also one of the youngest one in the country. His love for the culinary and gastronomy began when he was very small, and he had made his first jalebi when he was just 12 (and that REALLY says a lot about his talent!).
A graduate from IHM Aurangabad, he specialises in contemporary Indian cuisine. He won food channel FoodFood’s Maha Challenge, a show hosted by Chef Sanjeev Kapoor and actor Madhuri Dixit, to receive the title ‘India ka Superchef’. He hosted the show “Roti, Rasta aur India”, in which he travelled 20,000kms in 100 days across India to discover the varied cuisines of the nation. It gained huge popularity among viewers and went on grab a place for itself at the Limca Book of Records 2014. He now anchors several TV shows, a few shows that he does exclusively online and has been featured in shows of other countries as well.
Image Courtesy – Mid Day
He is also a food consultant for FoodFood and a travel colmunist for Discover India, apart from having published his first book “India on my Platter”, that deals with the journey he undertook for his show Roti, Rasta aur India.
These are people with raging spirits, fierce ambitions and a willpower that can destroy even the heaviest and harshest of obstacles. They’ve had ups and downs, highs and lows, and have emerged as creative and successful individuals who have excelled in their respective fields. Want more of these culinary magicians? Catch them live at The Coalition which will be held on 4th, 5th and 6th March in Delhi!