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10462850_10152476458744138_2889712880417202028_nJust 27 and a business growth of 200%. It is no surprise why Le 15 Patisserie’s Pooja Dhingra is known as India’s very own Macaron Queen. Saasha Jethwani annotates her culinary journey

Enter Le 15 Patisserie and you are immediately transported to a Parisian café. Run by Pooja Dhingra, a Cordon- Bleu trained chef, the patisserie serves cakes, pastries, tarts and its archetypal macarons. Popularly known as the Queen of Macarons, at just 27 and four years of treating people, Pooja has developed a fan following that will make baking old-timers cringe.

The Beginning
Since the beginning, Pooja was always passionate about baking. So, when she stepped foot into a law college to pursue a higher degree, she was clearly on uncharted waters. After a hopeless attempt at studying law, Pooja decided that hospitality was clearly where her heart was. After successfully convincing her dad, Pooja enrolled at the Cesar-Ritz Hospitality Management School in Switzerland. From there she moved onto to study baking at Cordon-Bleu in Paris.

Inspiration
Pooja’s first week at Cordon Bleu, Paris is what gave her the vision she needed to start off on her own. “I tried my first macaron in Paris and it was love at first bite. I knew then that I would move back to India and try to recreate them.” Says Dhingra of the start of her journey. However, her tryst with her very first macaron was not her only source of inspiration for starting up Le 15. Staying and working in Switzerland and Paris, she got the opportunity to meet some people who inspired her. It changed the way she thought, and made her a different person. From serving people at a local Swiss eatery to an intern responsible for making beds, soon, Pooja was delegating with French big-wigs at the five start she was interning at.

10259892_10152365039814138_2747085463520262958_n (1)Le 15 Story
Immediately after Pooja returned from Paris, she began experimenting with macarons. The macarons she learnt to make in Paris had to be tweaked and altered to find ground with Indian taste buds. It was no easy feat, but after several failed attempts, Pooja emerged victorious; she mastered a macaron that would work here in India. Criticism from her friends and family and several trial and error sessions later, Pooja had around 4-6 types of macarons that she was ready to serve.
Today, Le 15 is not only known for its macarons, but also for its unique fusion of flavours. When we probed about how she diversifies the Le 15 menu, she said, “I get inspired by daily flavours. Travels inspire me. Based on these inspirations I plan new menus.”

Macaron Lady
Pooja’s macarons and Red Velvet cupcakes have garnered a huge following since Le 15’s launch in 2010. Over the years, the numbers of her loyal fans have only increased. Her prominent presence of social media and a fan base that includes stars like Salman Khan, Sonam Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and the Ambani family among others, Pooja Dhingra is undoubtedly India’s very own macaron darling.

Expansion
With three outlets in Mumbai, Pooja states that she does plan to take her brand places. While she wants to expand her business, she does wish to keep her focus on widening the Indian taste. Along with a plan to bring desserts from across the world to India, she also plans on opening up an outlet in Delhi by the end of this year.

Future of the Baking Industry
The Indian culinary industry has been seeing a boost over the last few years and Pooja couldn’t be happier about it. Her gourmet pastry shop was a one-ofits- kind endeavour, but today there are so many people trying to walk in her footsteps. Of the boom in the baking
industry Pooja says, “I think the Indian taste is ready to experiment with world cuisine and is finally accepting new flavours.”

From Pooja, to us
A prodigy in the true sense, Pooja dared to follow her dreams. Ever since she knew that baking was her calling, began to work towards it. Undoubtedly one of the young engineers who propelled the boom of the culinary arts industry in India, ask her for a message for our readers and she says, “Have goals and work towards them. Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot achieve. Be focused and I’m sure you will be successful.”

 

Volume 4 Issue 2

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