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Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Female foodpreneurs: Nadia Lakhani’s dessert boutique

There are people who are born with sheer talent. Many even figure out what they want from the early years of their lives. I, however, took several different turns before I realised my ultimate passion to become a chef. I started with studying business for my ‘O’ levels and then dropped it all during my ‘A’ levels to pursue architecture and then miserably failed at that attempt and reluctantly started pursuing a BBA degree with a major in Marketing and minor in International Business. But doing just that was not enough for me. Despite loving those subjects, I could not see myself working in either field. I love studying and I wanted to venture into a different sector hence I decided to take up another degree – Environmental Management, alongside BBA.

While being in school, I remember making this simple yet utterly delicious finger licking appetizer called creamy mushrooms for my friend’s 14th birthday. During my time in university, I used to host luncheons at home calling them an invite to “Nadia’s Dhaba” which was so well received that I even started a blog by that name (still hoping to get back to it soon). Fast forward to 3.5 years of university, 196 credits and double degrees with a summa cum laude, I left everything behind to pursue my passion for cooking in Bangkok. I completed a vigorous 10 months diploma in French Patisserie in 2017 from Le Cordon Bleu. I returned and worked as a trainee and then as a Demi Chef in Four Points by Sheraton. In 2019 I started selling through an online platform – The Dessert Boutique by Nadia Lakhani. And so my journey began.

Although many might think that I was inconsistent and I kept switching paths, but I believe that I kept doing so only to find my true calling. I am grateful that I did what I did. I am grateful that my family wholeheartedly supported me and I am so grateful for my customers and the love from my friends. Being in this field, I can say it’s not easy. I am not ashamed of admitting that I was not born with baking skills. I learned the craft and I gave myself the time to grow. I didn’t give up and I plan to keep learning and keep growing for as long as I can.

My time at Le Cordon Bleu was a rollercoaster of experiences and emotions. I remember my French chefs teaching us how to use our set of sharp Zwilling paring knives to segment an orange on the first day and I had cut my finger and tried to hide it for the next 3 hours of practical class because I didn’t want to look hopeless on my first day. We had 3-6 hours of practical and demo classes and then I had to come back home only to sharpen my knives, clean my uniform and iron the next pair. We had exams each semester – both practical and written. Le Cordon Bleu taught me about flavors, techniques, history and origin of desserts, hygiene and food safety and discipline. From all of that, I returned to a non-paid internship of cracking 300 eggs a day for lunch and dinner buffer preparations. I didn’t mind the hard work at all, I wanted to learn and I wanted to experience mass production. Four Points taught me how to meet deadlines, work under pressure, adjust with various kinds of people and it helped me develop my skills and experiment.

I didn’t start Dessert Boutique when I realized that I liked making desserts, I started it when I knew I was ready for the responsibility and commitment it would take. Each day I learn something new, push myself a little more, make mistakes and then learn to rectify them.  I remember asking for money from my parents to pay my expenses for the first few months of my business. The journey hasn’t been easy but I have enjoyed every bit of it. The good, the bad, the highs and the lows. I am grateful for all my customers and friends who support my business and help me grow every day and of course, I’m grateful for my family. I hope to continue to grow everyday. I know I have a long way to go, but I believe in taking life one step at a time. 


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