"It is never too late. Even if you are going to die tomorrow, keep yourself straight and clear and be a happy human being today."
- Lama Yeshe
Find something you’re passionate about and keep being interested in it. And if that passion happens to be baking, then just interest isn’t enough. Constant creativity, expertise, patience and loads of organization skills are vital to staying afloat in the ever-expanding baking industry.
Currently, there are innumerable bakers out there creating delicious, visually appealing cakes but what makes Mumbai based Vahishta Zandbaf’s cakes stand apart is the way she amalgamates her love for baking with painting. The fact that she has been an Arts student clearly reflects in her stunning, colourful creations. Right from the flavours to the exquisite cake decorations that she uses, Vahishta makes sure to leave no stone unturned and ensures that each cake delivers happiness and sweet memories to her long list of clients.
This brilliant yet humble, young pastry chef and cake designer has been formally trained in Patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu, London and has also completed an extensive course in sugar floristry at the highly famed Peggy Porschen Academy, London. After returning, she started her own cake company called Tier Nom Patisserie, which is located in Mumbai and is highly sought after not only by regular cake lovers but also by Bollywood celebrities.
We finally had a conversation with the lovely Vahishta, where she speaks about her journey, her perpetual love for baking and the desire to constantly challenge her creativity to mesmerize her customers.
Q. How did you first get started with baking and cake decorating?
I started baking in my second year of college. I worked for a couple of bakeries initially, as an intern. The first one was Sassy Spoon and then I worked at a friend’s bakery called LSD. I spent about a year doing internships at multiple bakeries and just about a year and a half later, I went to Le Cordon Bleu in London.
Q. What are some things you do differently now than when you first started baking?
Essentially, it’s all about keeping yourself up-to-date with all the baking trends and what’s going on in the market. Of course, now I have more skills and more confidence as a baker and as an artist, so with that my work has automatically improved. What I do differently is that I’m working on a larger scale now and my skill set is better.
Q. What has been your greatest challenge in baking up until now?
I have to start learning puff pastry, laminated dough. I find that whole thing very challenging. It’s not particularly my area of interest, but it is an avenue that I would like to start exploring, eventually. So that’s something I want to learn and get into. Right now it’s more of cake art, baking and painting which is a very different field.
Q. What is the most rewarding part of baking?
The most rewarding part is definitely the cake because usually the clients are not expecting something so glamorous and so detailed and so it’s very fulfilling to get such great feedback from your clients. To make cakes for them that meet their expectations or are probably even better is the most satisfying part. There is no point in baking just for the sake of it. The joy of it is in seeing how people react to it, reassuring you in your passion and your work.
Q. You are now known as Bollywood’s favourite baker, so how is it baking for these special clients?
(Laughs) I don’t know about that! But I guess it has its pros and cons just like any other order. It’s the same process- they pick up the call, place their order and you speak to them. You know they are in the public eye so there’s a lot of attention but it’s actually nothing different. Having said that, for me, it is definitely a thrilling experience to be a part of their celebrations.
Q. What are your favourite baking and cake decorating tools?
My spatula! I have one spatula and I only use that one. I don’t use any other. It’s a very basic spatula but my hand has got the grip of it so now I only work with that one. A good spatula and a good quality cake scraper would be the essential tools. I get my cake scrapers from the U.S because they give you those perfect sides and edges, so I don’t use the local ones.
My third favourite tool would be my hand of course – that’s my most important tool! (giggles) Everything starts with these three things.
Q. Which one of your cakes is your favourite?
Well, I can’t choose any one favourite. I love all my cakes, especially the ones that I hand-paint. For example, if it’s a mermaid theme, I’ll do a lot of different things – I’ll cut out the shapes, I’ll draw, paint and sketch. So these cakes are my most favourite.
Q. Could you give some tips or advice to people who have just started baking or would love to start?
For people who are looking to start, I’d say, know that it is something that you definitely want to get into. Don’t get into it just because it’s a fad or just for the sake of baking. Focus on giving quality products and everything else will just fall into place. When I started out, I wasn’t cost-cutting and thinking of it as a business. I just thought of it as something that I love to do and it automatically, gradually became a business. So my prime focus is on giving out good quality cakes, giving out my work and what is unique to me.
Q. Lastly, what does The Bakers Collective mean to you?
I love it. I think it’s a very refreshing concept. It’s something that’s so new and unique to our country. I love the initiative that team TBC has started, it looks like a lot of hard work. I love the fact that all of us are coming together as a community, getting to see everyone’s work, teach and make people aware of the bakers and their skills. It’s a great initiative and I love that everyone’s coming from different parts to teach, gathering all the experts to exchange thoughts and discuss. It’s high time we had something like this in India and I am very privileged to be a part of The Bakers Collective.
Vahishta says, “Everyone’s journey is unique and interesting in their own way and this is mine, just like everybody else’s.” Well, for us, her detailed, artistic cakes are nothing short of magnificent and gorgeous. Here are some of her equally amazing achievements –
- Vahishta is a celebrated, trained pastry chef and cake decorator who effortlessly brings art and nature onto her cakes.
- Her brand Tier Nom Patisserie has been making waves for quite some time now and it is the go-to for many Bollywood celebrities. A recent cherry on the cake was the beautiful engagement cake of Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas, which was created by Vahishta and her small team of baking geniuses.
- Her work has been featured in various international magazines like Vogue India, Grazia and newspapers like Bombay Times and Mumbai Mirror, among others.
Baking, and especially cake decorating, is not a piece of cake. But the talented and young Vahishta is proving this wrong – one splendid cake at a time. We thank her for sharing her thoughts with us and hope she keeps delighting us with more of her artistry – from the canvas to the cake!