Chef Vanita Tondon's artisanal catering service Brown's brings bespoke international dishes to Kolkata
If your social media timelines are being ruled by dreamy pictures of wobbly Japanese cheesecakes, you only have city chef Vanita Tondon to thank for it. Vanita’s artisanal catering service, Brown’s has Kolkata’s gourmands raving about her international spread. From chocolate macarons, frangipane tarts to baked quiches, Brown’s is serving up quite an elaborate and bespoke platter, featuring items you probably won’t find in other patisseries across the city.
“I started in 2017, in a very casual way, after much prodding from my friends. They’d often ask me to bring something if they were having a party. I eventually made a small menu, and the word spread about it,” says Vanita, who’s trained in patisserie from LeNotre school in Paris. Brown’s works like any other catering service, although you do have to put in your orders at least a day or two in advance.
“When someone wants to have my baked items or European course-based spread, they place an order, preferably two days in advance if it’s for larger quantities. I also supply my breads, my desserts, quiches and tea cakes to cafes across the city,” says Vanita, who bakes some of the most delightful Mediterranean breads like crusty sourdough logs and rosemary and olive focaccia. Some of the international gourmet items from her menu include pizza pie with veggies, mushroom risotto, cheesy pasta bake, aglio olio with capers and tomatoes, chickpea tabbouleh, mixed pepper quesadillas, and much more.
Vanita, who was born and raised in Kolkata, quit her bank job to start Brown’s, which has garnered phenomenal responses in just two years.“Initially, friends of friends would call me up for orders. Now, of course, I get requests and orders from people all across the city,” says Vanita, whose Japanese cheesecakes have become an instant hit, and we obviously had to ask the chef about it.
“It’s funny, I’ve always had the Japanese cheesecake on my menu, but nobody really noticed it or ordered it. One day, I just thought, ‘You know, I’m going to make it for myself and my home, and I just put it up on social media. From then on, I’ve received a barrage of responses, because I seem to be the only person who’s doing it in the city. Japanese cheesecakes are lighter, like a souffle cake, it has a nice brown top. It has lesser cream cheese than a regular New York cheesecake,” we are told.
Speaking of NYC-style cheesecakes, Vanita’s New York style Oreo cheesecake with chocolate ganache is perhaps the most Instagrammable tiered cake we’ve seen lately. Vanita admits that though she works as a home chef as of now, she plans on starting a commercial kitchen as the volumes of orders she’s receiving is growing every day. Vanita reveals that millennials form a huge fraction of her clientele, and her baked goods are in very high demand. Brown’s also makes old school French desserts like entremets, which is a layered mousse cake with a glazed topping.
“I really enjoy making them, although it’s a difficult process, as it’s basically a layered dessert,” Vanita adds. And if you have one look at her milk chocolate, hazelnut and passion fruit entremet, you’ll see that preparing it is quite an ordeal. Brown’s is also pretty thrifty, in case you are looking to invite your friends over to binge on Netflix and some Nutella cheesecake anytime soon.
Cakes from Rs 1,000 onwards. Quiches (serves four) from Rs 1,000 onwards. Course-based spread vary in rates.