He’s 22. He’s Insta-famous. And his first book, Bake with Shivesh (after his blog by the same name) has turned into an Amazon bestseller (by pre-order) — even though it’s not even out yet!
Shivesh Bhatia is baking his way to the bank. But he still signs off on every text message with a smiley emoji. In the millennial age of ‘influencers’ we can all relate to — this Political Science graduate from Delhi takes the cake. Literally.
The first-time author gives us a taste of his secret sauce and a tour of his book. Excerpts:
Blogger to bestselling author. What does that feel like?
It feels unreal. The book got on to the Amazon bestseller list the day the pre-order link went live and that is something I had not expected. I was in a meeting that day. When my editor called me and told me, I jumped with joy. It is a great feeling because I’ve worked so hard on the book. I’m grateful to see it getting received with so much love.
For aspiring content creators — what is your secret (sauce)?
It is very important to be original and have your own voice. It is also very important to enjoy creating the content that you’re working on. I’ve been styling and shooting desserts almost every day for three years now and I’m able to keep up with it because I love what I do.
Give us a quick tour of your book.
The idea of writing Bake With Shivesh is to share everything from A-Z! In the first section of the book, I talk about baking tips, the right equipment to invest in and how to source your ingredients. The second section has recipes — lots of them! I’ve tried to include everything — cakes, tarts, pies, cookies, pavlovas, cheesecake, mousse, muffins, choux pastry, brownies, biscottis, bars.
The third section has everything I’ve learned about food styling — sourcing props, composing your frame, different backgrounds you can use, types of fabrics, how to add texture, height and depth... The fourth section is on food photography — the equipment, the camera basics. I’ve also shared tricks on how to capture the best light and action shots like drizzling of sugar. Finally, there is also a section on phone photography!
Name one unexpected ingredient to try in cake or icing.
Charcoal powder. My book has a recipe of lemon cake with charcoal frosting!
Your best friend in the kitchen is...
My stand mixer!
If you were stranded on a deserted island with Nigella Lawson, Martha Stewart and Rachel Allen, and you had only one question — what would it be?
When are we all baking together?
One dessert on your baking bucket list and why.
The iconic sports cake from Conditori la Glacé, Copenhagen. I’d love to create that in my kitchen one day.
One dessert you are currently obsessed with.
With so much time baking, styling and tasting — do you ever get sick of cake?
If life was a piece of a cake — how would you describe yours right now?
A slice of warm chocolate-pecan cake — very fulfilling!
Take us behind the scenes of putting it together.
It took us an entire year to put the book together. Creating, testing and retesting the recipes took a lot of time. Since I also styled and shot all the photos of the book, it was all the more time consuming, but also very rewarding. Definitely the most challenging project I’ve ever worked on, but I’m very proud of what we’ve produced!
Chat with us about the non-glamourous side of being an influencer...
What we don’t see on social media is the fact that all of us have days when we are unmotivated and uninspired. There are times when big projects you are looking forward to don’t come through or you end up having a disaster day in the kitchen. But you have to accept it as a part of your job. I take a break, sit back and relax. I end up doing other things I enjoy like spending time with friends and family, painting, gardening or going through recipe books, which is always inspiring.
Food styling tips
• A lot of times, we end up overshadowing the food by using too many props. So tip number one: the food that you’re styling should be the star of your frame.
• Don’t let equipment hold you back.You don’t need a fancy camera to take great pictures!
• Experiment with different backgrounds like wooden planks,
concrete, marble slabs or create your own by painting on MDF boards.
What do you have lined up for 2019?
I hope to start working on my second book.
Bake With Shivesh published by HarperCollins releases at the end of the month. Price: Rs 699.
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