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Theobroma is a Mumbai favorite with its delectable brownies and beautiful cakes. A testimony to Mumbai’s sweet tooth, Theobroma is the brainchild of Kainaz Messman who is its dynamic owner and a superb pastry chef in her own right. TCT catches up with her below.
What’s your journey with Theobroma been like” Can you take us on a short trip down memory lane?
At the age of 16, I went to France as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student. That year changed my life (and career, I was gravitating towards law until then). I fell in love with simple, classic, unpretentious patisserie. Upon my return I proceeded to study French Literature, but I already knew I was going to become a chef. I went to IHM Mumbai and then to OCLD Delhi. I became a pastry chef at the Oberoi Udailvilas until a back injury abruptly ended my career there. We started dreaming about our own cake shop while I was recovering from that injury.
When we started, we did not know what to expect. We didn’t know if we would recover the costs of starting our business or whether we would be able to fill the four small tables we had ordered. We were making the things we liked to eat; we hoped to do well, but we could not have ever predicted or dared to hope for the success that Theobroma would become.
What advice would you give to someone who was trying to break into this business?
Deliver a good product at a fair price, maintain quality, look after your customers and employees. Set up your own business for the right reasons. Be prepared to work hard and work long. Take responsibility. When things go wrong, acknowledge the problem and set things right.
We are in expansion mode. We have nine outlets open and a few in the pipeline. We are now determining the direction the company will take and establishing a growth path for the company. We recently hired our CEO, Cyrus Shroff; he and his team are streamlining our procedures and reducing inefficiencies throughout the system.
Delhi is in our sights. It is our biggest market after Mumbai; we courier our products to the capital all the time. We would love to be there but need to work out how to finance the growth, manage the operation and maintain quality. I do not have a time frame to offer at this stage, but we are working on it.
I would love to have a fun cookery TV show someday.
What would your last meal on earth be?
Bread, cheese, wine, and crème brûlée.
If you could have dinner with anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be?
Auguste Escoffier! Antoine Careme! They started it all. We are chefs today because of them.
How would you describe Theobroma in 80 characters?
A Happy Place. The friendly café which serves smiles on a plate.
Android or iOS?
Chocolate or vanilla?
Harry Potter or Lord Of The Rings?
Neither. I would take [a] RomCom any day.
Coffee or Tea?
Cupcakes or brownies?
Introvert or extrovert?
Interview conducted by Sukhada Chaudhary