Filled with baking Memories


Please tell us, why did you choose to become Pastry Chef?

Gunjan Madan:- I completed a degree in Law and started to pursue a career in Maritime Law. But back then, little did I know that destiny had a different plan for me. I got married in early 2015 and post that gave up working in Maritime field as I wanted to have more compatible schedule, complementing that of my Husband’s. He being a Hotelier, his working hours are erratic. Just two months and being at home was getting really frustrating for my 23 year old self. I had to do something to keep myself occupied. 

I have always had the taste for good food and enjoyed trying out new flavours in kitchen ever since my early years. I started searching for recipes online and got my very first oven and baking supplies. Soon I realised, my kitchen was a home bakery. I started experimenting with new flavour profiles and textures. Back then home bakers were few, not as many as we have today. Social media was also becoming a new mode of business marketing. 

Friends, the family started loving my baked products, along the way I also made lot of amateur mistakes. But failing and making mistakes is the only way you grow. My friends began asking for recipes and to learn how to bake those perfect bakes. And there, my brand of ” La Maison Patisserie”, a small home bakery took birth. I started conducting Baking workshops and the number of students kept increasing. December of 2017, my daughter was born. I was a new mother trying to figure out what next. That’s when I enrolled for a 6-month diploma in Bakery and Pastry Arts with SEP, Mumbai. And now, here I am a qualified Pastry Chef having established my own academy, ” La Maison Academy of Bakery & Pastry Arts” in Mumbai’s central suburb in 2019. This dream wouldn’t have been possible without the unconditional support of my husband and my family. This is just the beginning. Learning never stops. 

What is your earliest memory of food? 

Gunjan Madan:- I live to eat if I can sum it up in a sentence. I remember as a kid, experimenting with food a lot and my younger brother being my experimental guinea pig. Growing up in Mumbai, south-east and then middle East Asia, early in my life I was exposed to an array of food cultures. It was a sea of flavours and blend of various techniques. It was always experimenting and exploring food for me. 

What are your favourite ingredients to work with and how do you get your perfect ingredient? 

Gunjan Madan:- I love the local and seasonal produce. So with every season, I use different ingredients. I love visiting the local markets, interacting with the vendors, checking out the seasonal fruits, herbs and flowers. I use them a lot as garnishing elements. A beautiful flower or fresh berries or simple herbs can elevate the look of your dish. 

Always keep yourself updated with the latest products and industry trends by reading online and visiting the food and bakery fairs happening in your city. My favourite ingredients are very basic like dairy whipping cream, good quality coverture chocolates, fresh berries and variety of essences and extracts by Fab Flavours.

Can you share any secrets with our readers for baking at home? Maybe tips on something most of us get wrong, or the one piece of kitchen equipment that you recommend we all have?

Gunjan Madan:- Baking is a demanding profession, physically strenuous and sometimes mentally exhausting. Simple but most neglected advice, always wear comfortable footwear for long working hours. Keep your working space clean, maintain hygiene. Keep on experimenting, do not be scared to try out a new recipe or fail with your experiments. 

And always read, read as much as possible and keep on upgrading your techniques. For any novice baker, always invest in a basic OTG oven. It’s a must-have. 

Which is the most popular of all your creations and why? 

Gunjan Madan:- For this question, I would always answer my daughter, Zoey. On a serious note, our range of healthy bakes which are gluten-free and Vegan are bestselling. They are product of our in house Gluten-free flour mix and also free of any animal or dairy products. They are part of our evolving food culture. 

Where do you get your chocolates from & why? 

Gunjan Madan:- I use pure Coverture chocolates. We use a variety of chocolates from Callebaut which are the finest Belgian chocolates. Also, we use Coverture chocolates from Morde, which is a local brand and easily accessible. The best of the chocolate brands are Valrohna, Barry-Callebaut, Felchlin. 

You can use chocolate from any of the brands, but try to stick to one brand. As the change in chocolate will result in a change of ingredient content, texture profiles, fluidity and various other factors which will ultimately affect your recipe composition. 

Do not compromise on your ingredients as it will alter the quality of your product and your brand value. 

At last, given a chance, what would you like to change about the bakery world? 

Gunjan Madan:- It’s a rat race out there but do not jeopardize your brand value and ethics. Your brand is just like a sapling, it needs time, unconditional nurturing, hard work and patience to strengthen its roots. I would like fellow bakers to not undermine themselves and their hard work and price their product accordingly. Do not use low-quality ingredients to cut costs, which eventually will be evident. 

What role does social media play in your profession as a baker? 

Gunjan Madan:- We live in a world of Instagram and Facebook. It’s the new social media age. Most of your brand visibility depends on your virtual profile. It is the strongest medium out their to reach a larger audience. Though it’s important to have a strong media presence, in the end, your work will speak for yourself. The quality of your products should be the finest. Social media may build your clientele but the quality of your products will retain those clients and build your base.