These bakers and chefs from Bengaluru swear by traditional methods in their kitchens
City-based home bakers and chefs talk about how placing emphasis on classics has stood the test of time
When it comes to Christmas cake, Michelle’s name is the first on everyone’s list. The home baker is popular for her traditional plum cakes and brownies and has been in the industry for more than a decade now. She ascribes her success to her simple and hands-on style of baking. “I bake my products in a home oven, in limited quantities from a family recipe and the ingredients are personally mixed by me. I feel this lends a different charm that people appreciate and support. I think if we stay truly passionate about the work we do then success is bound to follow,” she says humbly, adding, “I am truly blessed with all the love and affection I receive for all the effort that I put into making my Christmas plum cakes and brownies.”
Every year, the festive season kicks off in her home when her mother and she get busy making traditional sweets such as rose cookies, kalkals and date walnut rolls, in addition to all her cake and brownie orders. Michelle also believes in keeping things minimal by using sustainable products and trying to waste as less as possible. “This is family time for us and this year too, we will celebrate with a lunch at home. Caring for the needy and praying for the good of the world is my mantra for a minimal Christmas,” she signs off.
At Lavonne Academy, co-founder Vinesh Johny has always been an advocate for hands-on classes. Their cafes in town rank among the top when it comes to modern and innovative desserts. So the pandemic was an especially challenging time. “For a long time none of us were sure when things could return to normal,” the popular citybased pastry chef tells us. His cafes, and the academy had to shift to digital mode. But the love shown to him from his patrons made him realise the importance of getting back to the fundamentals. “All of a sudden, the vibe and energy at Lavonne was explosive. All of us were super engaged and I could see my chefs getting back into teaching and doing what they loved the most,” he adds. Vinesh’s desserts may be modern, but he has always been popular because he says his style of desserts are quite approachable in nature.
“I enjoy making desserts that are simple, clean and delicious,” the award-winning chef explains. Of course, for the bakery, this is the busiest time of year with traditional goodies being rolled out, as well a special menu of reimagined desserts and icecreams that they are busy creating. An eventful personal year made Vinesh value what truly matters. He says, “My wife Joonie Tan and I were blessed with the arrival of Zev, our baby boy. I try my best to spend as much time as possible with him, while I’m still learning about parenthood.” During the festive season, Vinesh will be spending time with those closest to him. “Prioritising people over things will surely make this Christmas memorable,” he concludes.
Saad and his family have been serving delectable food to many Bengalureans for nearly two decades now. His late mother, Anisa, was known for her biryani and warqi samosas (especially during Ramadan). Taking his mother’s legacy forward, Saad and his wife Tazeen Malik started Lagom in 2018. The bakery is popular for its eclairs, profiteroles, tarts and cakes. Like many other businesses, Lagom too took a hit during 2020, only to rebound in 2021 and reopen at a new location, on Assaye Road in Ulsoor. What’s kept them going is their belief in keeping things simple and the difficult times strengthened this belief further. “Lagom is a Swedish word which means not too little, not too much, and we believe in this concept completely. We think the secret to running our bakery is to keep it minimal. We bake small batches of fresh goodies every day, and offer comfort food that’s more like soul food for our clients. It’s this vision that keeps us motivated,” explains Saad.
For Christmas, they have curated a special menu with their signature offerings and fruits that are in season now. Expect Christmas Fruit Cake, Orange and Almond Cake, Gingerbread cookies, Sticky Caramel and Pecan Buns, Chocolate Eclairs, Strawberry Cupcakes and Strawberry Tarts. While their kitchen is busy every day, Saad says their Christmas celebrations will be simple. “We will be spending time with our close family and friends. With so much happening in the world and with so many lives lost, it’s best to just stay at home with your loved ones,” he says.
Boney M might have been referring to the American crime matriarch, but this Kammanahalli-based establishment is named after its founder, Mathew Thomas, an advertising professional-turnedbaker. Since 2008, Ma Baker has been serving up some classic and traditional Christmas favourites to Bengaluru. “I was always interested in baking, so in 2006, I quit my job in advertising and went to Ecole Gregoire Ferrandi, Paris to get some professional training,” recalls Mathew, who set up a kitchen in the factory out of which his family ran their cosmetics business. The chef launched Ma Baker at a time when glazed legs of ham and smoked chicken were something you could eat only if you had the energy and time to make them at home. So, naturally, Mathew’s venture took off quickly. Now, 13 years after he first started taking orders, his Christmas cakes, gingerbread cookies and roast turkey are still in high demand.
“I think what has helped me is that there are not many people who focus on wholesome oldfashioned cooking because it is labour intensive and time consuming. So there is still a market for what I serve,” he tells us. Not surprisingly, Christmas is the busiest time of year for Mathew, whose other specialties include Honey Glazed Gammon Roll, Steamed Christmas Pudding with Brandy Butter, Glazed Smoked Chicken and the quintessential kalkals and marzipan. However, Ma Baker also has a yearround catering menu featuring dishes such as Goan Pork vindaloo, Coq Au Vin - Chicken & Mushrooms in Red Wine, Deep Dish Eggplant Pasta Torte, Dark Chocolate Cake with Rum and Raisins and Gin & Lime Mousse. “We normally cater to small gatherings, but because of the pandemic we have also started taking smaller orders to keep ourselves afloat,” he shares.