India’s leading Pastry Chef & Business woman
Owner of bakery chain Le15 Patisserie
She is one of the country’s most loved chefs. Not only does she create and craft delicious deserts, she has also published two books; a best seller on baking and The Wholesome Kitchen. Pooja Dhingra is an Indian pastry chef and business woman. She has opened India’s first macaroon store and is the owner of bakery chain Le15 Patisserie. Her podcast has topped the charts recently. Here in a tete-e-tete with Pooja Dhingra on what made her choose baking over law and
Journey of a professional chef
I have been fascinated by baking for as long as I can remember. My earliest baking memory is of making brownies with my aunt when I was 6 years old. However, I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and joined Law School. That lasted for exactly 2 weeks. I realized that law was not for me and moved to Switzerland to study hospitality management at Cesar Ritz Colleges. I have always been amazed at how simple ingredients like eggs, butter, flour and sugar could create something so delicious and magical. Later, in Paris, at Le Cordon Bleu, we learnt how the same ‘magic ingredients’ can be used to achieve a vast variety of treats.
I did my first job at a 4-star hotel in Montreux, Switzerland at 18. I worked as a Housekeeping Trainee and was in charge of the breakfast service, checking rooms and mini bars.
Creating something new from scratch!
I love making Macarons
Best seller, The Big Book of Treats
When I returned from culinary school in Paris, I found baking in India to be extremely challenging. Everything from the unavailability of the right ingredients and tools to the weather played a factor. I learnt after multiple trials how to work within the environment here. My first book resulted from this process of learning and baking in India. The Big Book of Treats was all indulgence. It dealt with baking in the Indian context, and my second book that launched recently, I wrote about a completely different subject matter. The last few years I’ve been incredibly focused on my health. My love for desserts and all things sweet, conversations on health and wellness with friends (and now contributors for the book) lead to experiments with different ingredients, cooking without sugar and eventually The Wholesome Kitchen.
Inspiration to pursue baking professionally
One of my earliest memories is of baking brownies for the first time with my aunt. I have been fascinated by baking for as long as I can remember. I was amazed at how simple ingredients like eggs, butter, flour and sugar could create something so delicious and magical. At school in Paris we learnt how the same ‘magic ingredients’ can be used to achieve such a huge variety of treats. 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 neighborhood 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.
An advice to the women of India on International Women’s Day
Believe in yourself
One ingredient you feel is underappreciated
I have a very supportive family who always pushed me in the direction of my dreams.
Forbes India for ‘30 under 30’ achievers list and the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list
It was a great honor and also a very humbling experience to meet so many incredible minds.
An advice to young chefs
There is no substitute for hard work. It is glamorous today to be a chef. It takes serious grit to stand for 12 hours in a kitchen, and trust me there will be situations where you’ll need to do this no matter which point you are in your career.
Gender inequality in our country
It is very disheartening that in 2020 women and men aren’t treated the same.
Your comfort food
Anything homemade. Dal and rice usually does the trick
One food you cannot do about
I can’t live without my coffee. First thing when I wake up—simple black coffee. I also love to eat eggs for breakfast every day
Your Pamper fix
Getting a Massage
Your signature look
Oversized shirt, jeans and hoops
Your favorite book
Your fitness mantra
My workouts are like my meditation
One superpower you wish to have