Beyond Chocolate: Meet Toshin Shetty who runs an artisanal dessert store in Bombay
Mumbai-based Toshin Shetty is among those who always knew what he wanted to do - be inside the kitchen. Even in his childhood, he would visit his father’s Ivy Restaurant in Chembur thrice a week and although he wasn’t allowed to cook in the kitchen there, he would actively pursue cooking at home. So much was his interest in cooking that his parents gifted him a chef coat on his 10th birthday. After school, he went to Aurangabad to pursue his graduation from Institute of Hotel Management (IHM), followed by a course from Le Cordon Bleu London. His journey so far appears a very natural progression for somebody growing up in a family of restauranteurs but what’s makes him interesting is his quest for perfection.
Known for the brand TOSHIN, a patisserie in Mumbai, Shetty is never in a hurry or so it appears from his absolutely calm demeanour and his journey so far. We met him at his father’s restaurant in Chembur and not even for a minute did he try to rush the conversation. The 29-year-old even took us for a tour to the kitchen and patisserie and the only times one could see a glint of excitement in his eyes were when he was inside the kitchen or when he made us try the chocolates while explaining how a piece of chocolate is supposed to be tasted - you chew it fast if you want to understand the flavour or you keep it in your mouth and allow it to melt. The faster it melts, the bigger is the amount of cocoa butter it has. Although now he appears like a walking encyclopedia on chocolate, whose products have been a part of Koffee with Karan’s hamper and are going to far off parts of the world like Paris and London, his tryst with it began like everyone else - Dairy Milk.
“After coming from school, I would eat three to four bars of Dairy Milk and about 30 to 40 melodies on a daily basis,” he recalls and adds that although he was aware of couverture chocolates, the ones that use cocoa butter and not vegetable oil, his fascination with them grew once he went to Le Cordon Bleu. “In London, I started consuming different brands of chocolates and eventually, I found about single-origin chocolates and it picked my curiosity and in the process, I got into the depth of the chocolates. In fact, 10 months before the launch of TOSHIN, I was 83 kgs and I wanted to lose the weight. So, I started consuming dark chocolates and would have about a bar of 500gms chocolate in a day and a portion of dal-rice for lunch and I lost about 14 kgs,” he laughs and adds, “But, you have to drink a lot of water because of chocolates are acidic.” His fascination with chocolates doesn’t end here. Shetty’s next step is entering into the beans to bars segment and he has already panted crops in about 30 acres of land that his family owns in Mangalore. “About three years from now, I will have my own crop,” adds Shetty who presently sources his chocolates from Kerala, Karnataka and Madagascar.
TOSHIN was launched in October 2015 but the planning started way back in 2007. “I started discussing kitchen planning and how the bakery should be and what equipments would we need, etc. After coming back from London, I started working on the recipes and it took me about three years to get my recipes right and in those three years, a lot of my mistakes got covered,” he adds.
What’s equally interesting about Toshin is the packaging, a process upon which he and his father were working since 2007. “Over the years, we had collected boxes of so many patisseries that a room was filled with just the boxes,” he laughs and adds, “Branding and packaging are very important because it is the first image. If a person is gifting your products to someone, the carry bag should pull the eyes. And, it should be subtle, not overpowering and that’s our thought process behind the brand. If a person takes a cake, it is eaten off but if the person keeps the packaging, it acts as brand recall. For instance, a lot of people like the logo, which is nothing but my name, but the way it is written, people find it an eye-puller.”
His quest to perfection resonates in the patisserie that offers a limited menu of chocolate bars, macrons, pastries and cakes for which he sources his ingredients from various parts of the world. “If an Indian ingredient is better than an international one, we would use that and similarly, if an international ingredient is better, we would import that. Like, the mangoes that we use here are Indian whereas the bananas are imported. The red surface on our scarlet dessert demands Cocco butter colour, which we especially get from France. A kilogram of that costs Rs 60,000 and from that, we are able to make about 1000 pieces. So, about Rs 60 per piece beside other components. But, the cost doesn’t matter as it averages out overall,” he adds.
The patisserie also offers ice cream and sorbet, a verticle for which he enrolled himself in an institute in Italy. “Because I had already studied them, I went to Carpigiani Gelato University (Italy) to know what I didn’t know. It was a one-on-one course where I had questions from basic to intermediate to advanced level,” he informs adding that it was his father’s dream since 1985 to do ice creams at their restaurants. They were eventually added to the menu in 2016.
While many may think he is all about desserts, Shetty asserts having an equal amount of interest in preparing the main course. “Both are equal, there is no difference. I love food and I am comfortable in both. At that point in time, we wanted to have a patisserie. So, I focused more on it and started preparing my recipes,” avers Shetty who is in the planning stage of revamping Ankur, the first restaurant of his family. “It was started by my grandfather in 1941 and was named New Welcome. In the early 70s, it was turned into a vegetarian restaurant. In 1995, my dad converted it into a seafood restaurant and renamed it to Ankur and now it is my turn (laughs). It is right now a multi-cuisine restaurant but mainly focused on seafood. I am going to refine the menu - retain the signature items and add new recipes,” he adds. The restaurant will be revamped around the time of Diwali or by the end of the year.
And, what’s next for Toshin? “I am planning another outlet, it will either be in South Bombay or in Western Suburbs. I am looking for a place, the day I will find it, I will go for it,” he informs. And, would there be more store in Bombay and when will he move to other cities? “I will maximum have two more stores in Bombay. About the next city, it may or may not be in India, I am not sure right now,” he concludes.
1. Can chocolate be healthy?
Yes, if it is 75% or above dark couverture chocolate.
2. How to identify if a bar of chocolate is healthy or not?
Read ingredients, if it has vegetable fat, it is not healthy.
3. What’s more healthy - ice cream or sorbet?
Sorbet has fruit, sugar and water. Calorie wise, I think ice cream is better.
4. Five items to try at Toshin:
Nirvana (dark chocolate tart), Pistachio ice cream/chocolate, a sorbet, one of our 75% chocolate bar and a cookie called anti-dote, which is available only on pre-order
5. What’s the best place to keep chocolates?
Never in the refrigerator. They should be kept at a temperature of 20-25 degree Celcius, so the best place is your bedroom where AC keeps the temperature around 25 degrees Celcius