Her Sweet Reign: Meet Goa-born pastry chef Eureka Araujo

After her win at the World Pastry Queen championship, Eureka Araujo is mulling starting an academy for pastry chefs

author_img Shilpi Madan Published :  12th March 2023 09:00 PM   |   Published :   |  12th March 2023 09:00 PM

Creations of the chef

Goa-born pastry chef Eureka Araujo likes to amaze. Think stunning carnation and caramello entremets, caramelised nutty tarts, flaky croissants with dark chocolate lining, mandarin-rich ganache and crunchy pecans combined in a creamy chocolate mousse dotting the tables and more. And why not? The creative director of Sivako, Mumbai—which turned a year old this month—is on a high. In January this year, she bagged the third position at the World Pastry Queen championship, held in Rimini, Italy. It was the first time India had a podium-finish at the competition, which is the biggest bakery and pastry trade fair in the world.

Victory—it came post endless days of tastings, creating flavour combinations, late nights and trials—the 30-year-old is pushing boundaries, working magic in her French-style, takeaway patisserie in suburban Mumbai. Over a month after the win, the feeling is yet to settle in. “It feels surreal,” confesses Araujo, who is keen to start an academy to help talented young pastry chefs find expression in the larger, global canvas. “It was an uphill task reaching Italy—from pouring in personal finances, to clobbering politics, organising visas and reaching fully prepared on time, without any assistance on home turf. I want to change that for the next generation of potential winners,” she says.

Araujo discovered her love for baking watching her home-baker mom at work. What started as role play and kitchen mess, charted her path to becoming India’s Pastry Queen in 2017, just a year after she turned pro. Her Fallen Trone chocolate cake with pressurised smoke of dry ice had the judges swooning. The pandemic acted as a disruptor to her plans of opening a bakery, but finally in March 2022, Araujo along with her sister Nikita set up Sivako.

The business has begun to boom in the wake of her artful win in the world of sugar darlings. The theme for the competition this year was the ‘Genius of Leonardo da Vinci’—a subtle indicator of the finesse and artistry that was expected of the contestants. Araujo stunned everyone with her rendition of the single-serving dessert in a glass with espresso coffee-flavoured gelato. And this, in Italy—the Holy Grail of gelatos.

“There were multiple formats in single-serving warm and cold plated desserts, chocolate and marron glacés, tiny chocolate whispers in ring-shaped mini bonbon dessert tray sculptures, and more,” she shares. The challenge was creating 15-20 plates of the same dessert with the equal amount of consistency. 

Chef Eureka Araujo

“I need to work harder on this aspect, as reviewing my win, I think that is where I lost out on a few marks,” confesses Araujo, who once took up the challenge of going 100 days without sugar. While it might sound difficult for most, for a pastry chef it is near-impossible. After all, her routine day is all about sugar. “It was difficult, considering I couldn’t taste what I was making, but it was a great learning experience,” she shares, adding with a laugh, “And healthy too, as pastry chefs are constantly challenged with expanding girths.”

She believes in keeping her ingredient list to a simple one—“I use white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, honey in my creations; no stevia, no fuss.” At the same time, she does have a soft spot for the tart and fragrant yuzu fruit, which she candidly admits to sourcing from France. “It brings in a refreshing dimension when used sparingly in desserts. 

I have made drool-worthy desserts with a combination of raspberry, strawberry, and 10 percent yuzu as a taste-enhancer,” she says. Fresh vanilla is another delightful pick.Marrying the tantalising, yet almost-basic flavours of vanilla and yuzu results in lemon berry pistachio cakes, foret noire petit gateau, and lip-smacking inserts of coffee buttercream and almond joconde at her patisserie.

Her biggest challenge, though, is making eggless creations. “As vegetarians form a big part of our clientele in India, doing away with eggs is a must, much as I favour the magic of the whites and yolks. Eggs have a different function in every preparation. So I use various substitutes. To get a spongy texture, I use baking soda. In a mousse, eggs bring stability, so I use cream cheese to thicken, or white chocolate to set the dessert as the case may be,” she reveals.

Clearly minimalism is her style, as she follows the makings of successful international chefs and refreshes her skills and techniques consistently through masterclasses. “The dessert chefdom has experienced a huge shift, with women chefs now being taken more seriously. As opposed to earlier when we were allocated ‘lighter’ work like garnishing,” she says. Well, dessert is serious business.