Thursday, September 11, 2014

Road Not Taken is a segment in which people, who have chosen the road less traveled by, share their journey with us. Read the interviews and get inspired! :D 

Today, we have Nithya with us in 'Road Not Taken'. Thanks for your time Nithya. 

-The cake queen. Please, introduce yourself to my diet conscious readers who don’t recognize you with your cakes.

Hi lovable foodies and learn to live non foodies ;) I am Nithya an IT graduate turned into blogger extended to food stylist and photographer who also ended up becoming a cake artist recently.

-Can you tell us more about your educational background?
I studied Bachelors in Computer Science and then went ahead to do my Post graduation in IT as well. Probably road most taken but at the very wrong time for the industry. Ended up joining a not so craving for kind of IT job, developing websites using .Net. I kicked myself out after a year when I realized sitting in a chair and staring at a computer was not my forte at all.

-Why did you choose cake baking as a profession? What inspired you to do so?
Post my walk out from IT, I realized I had a passion and flair for cooking and food art. As I ventured into it a bit more I realized my love for baking since it was a science that I could beat my mom (the best cook in the world) easily at. Home baking being a bit new and road not taken, I wanted to venture it more seriously. I took up a french pastry course full time for two months and also learnt the art of cake decorating from an institute at Bangalore. Pastries and cakes are the real 'hot cakes' for a city like Chennai and making customized cakes is like bringing happiness for someone, hence choose it as a serious profession.

-Do you remember the first cake you loved eating? Were you a cake addict as a child?
The first cake that I really remember loving to eat and crave for was the Chocolate truffle with ice cream at Sweet Chariot at Ispahani, Chennai. I have saved money and tummy space several times to binge on them. Lost count of the number of cakes I would have indulged on. I am still salivating thinking of it now.
I wasn't particularly cake addict as a child since the sad choice we had was the green colour cake with full of nuts on it from a renowned old time bakery which tasted just of butter and sugar. No offence but those cakes could not make me an addict at all.

-What was the first cake you ever baked? Can you share the photo of it along with your experience with it? Who was your rat to test the cake with?
The very first cake I baked was an eggless milk maid microwave cake. The recipe was shared by my cousin and I instantly tried it. Stirred in the very simple recipe and put the batter in a very regular home use glass bowl and baked it using the microwave mode. This mode can get your cake done in under 10 mins and hence the thrill of checking it out was so much more. I sat next to the oven and was staring through the glass full time. I was so proud of myself when the cake raised and felt like a rocket science engineer who achieved a launch successfully ;)
The cake tasted yummy and my parents were the rats who approved of it too ;)

Her First Cake:
Before Decoration
After Decoration

-When did you start taking up cakes as a serious profession? How difficult was it in the starting days? Did you have to convince your parents to not be conventional?
I went commercial only few months back, precisely Feb 14th 2014 and baked my first cake for a customer but from my own family who trusted I could do it well. With the feedback and encouragement I received I started taking up orders. From then on it’s no looking back at all.
My family as well as my extended family have been super encouraging and I am blessed for that. I never had to convince them on what I was going to do. They knew I took up a less travelled road but they have stayed with me and guided me when I needed advice. Help from all sides have always been there for me and their first look feedback is what I trust and work with until date.
The difficulty in this profession so far is to convince clients on the new technology or rather new variety of ingredients used in these cakes and to make them believe it’s worth every penny they spend. My first few clients were apprehensive about the work and the cost which is not to be blamed for since I was a newbee in the field but now I am proud to say I have repeated customers and most of them come by word of mouth and recommendation from other customers :)

-How much do you earn? I am not asking this to send a report to income tax ;) People should know that making a living with something we are passionate about is not difficult. Parents thing only engineering, medicine or being a CA pays well.
Just like any other business even this depends on the number of orders I am able to cater in a month. Once you establish a name and start working at least 20 days out of 30 I can assure you can earn anywhere from 15000-30000 a month easily. More than the monetary value the satisfaction of putting in your efforts for yourself and gaining recognition for it makes it stand out from any other profession where millions are doing the same work everyday.

-Tell us more about your day to day routine as a cake artist?
It’s been amazing to have different things to do each day. My schedule changes every single day. It could be taking orders on phone, confirming through email. Browsing for ideas, sketching my own ideas, convincing the client on a theme. Buying ingredients, sourcing more from whole salers. Baking the base cakes and whipping the creams. Moulding the cakes into shapes and icing them. making figurines and flowers and finally assembling them all to deliver. Each day is a hectically creative day :)
It is definitely complicated, stressful at times physically and mentally but awesome at the end of the day.

-Who encourages you the most?
My family. They are a big bunch but all of them encourage me in their own way to their best levels possible. The iorny is they are all my marketing managers too. All of them have my cake pictures in their smart phones ready to show people they meet :)

-You bake a cake for a party, it comes out really well. Won’t you be tempted to gulp it down yourself?
Love the question! Most of the time it’s the other way round. When a cake comes out really well I would want to showcase it in a glass box eternally and would never want anyone to cut it at all ;)

-Has some cake ended up being a failure? Can you share the photographs? Failures are the stepping stone to success. People should know that it wasn’t easy for you to reach where you are.
Lots of trial and error happens in my kitchen laboratory and have faced failures multiple times.
Raisin cake was the worst of the lot. It was one of the first few cakes I tried and I totally skipped using the most important ingredient being the baking powder! The cake dint raise and was close to a hard rock. Though I was depressed I never gave up. To mention my super encouraging dad even ate the cake by dunking it in a glass of milk. Epithome of encouragement ain't it ;)
It has not been easy until date since success of baking science depends on lot of conditions and loads of hard work has gone in to get them all right. I work on it each day and learn new things as I grow with it.
Food stylist in me can take nice pictures of worst cakes :P

-A Link to you blog/your facebook page.

-“Road not taken” has a segment called ‘Confessions’. We would like to listen a confession from the cake queen. Could be silly/ serious.
A silly confession - I have never eaten a fondant cake made by anyone else at all until date :( No one made it for me.

Few of her Cakes:

Find her on Facebook

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