Sasha Wadhwa On The Journey From Home Baker To Cloud Kitchen
- Shireen Jamooji
Updated : January 20, 2023 09:01 IST
It’s no secret that India loves dessert. No event, festival or celebration is complete without something to sweeten the day. But for Sasha Wadhwa, a Mumbai-based chef, the dessert space still has so much potential to explore.
For most of us, the mention of cake immediately conjures up the idea of store-bought pastries from the school canteen or generic birthday cakes topped with candles that all taste very much alike. Sasha Wadhwa however has a different vision for the world of desserts in India and is putting her skills to use to make it a reality.
A graduate of Sofia Polytechnic in Mumbai, she already had the qualifications to back her passion and she began her journey in the dessert world as a home baker making customised cakes out of her home for a select number of customers. But after the pandemic and while struggling with professional fatigue she decided to reinvent her business and launch her first cloud kitchen, Couche.
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She came from a family where food was always a priority and has since found comfort in the network of female entrepreneurs in the baking space like Pooja Dhingra of Le 15 and Kainaz Mesman of Theobroma. Her dream is to build a brand that makes high-quality desserts the norm, where quality is never compromised and world-class creations are accessible to everyone.
She talks to Slurrp about her journey as a baker, the highs and lows of her career and what it takes to make the step from home baking into the professional world.
When did you first decide to get into the world of baking?
My parents have been in the food space for almost 20 years now. They’re more into the
It was a very natural thing. I remember I went for this random one-day baking class with a friend and I was about 16 or 17 at this point and something just clicked and I never stopped. It was all a very natural progression as a whole.
How did you manage when you felt you had lost your passion for baking?
In 2022, I got a little overwhelmed with everything and decided to take a break to reassess, but after a few months, I got that feeling and wanted to start again. I began by taking a break and baking only for fun and slowly I started to find that joy I used to feel in it again. It was about a 5-month break but after a while, I realised I do love it and I don’t want to be doing anything else. I genuinely loved what I was doing but I thought maybe I should switch things up from custom cakes and move over to the dessert space since that was more challenging for me and more fun for me. I set up my kitchen in September of last year and I’ve been here every day loving what I do and I’ve got the joy and the fun of what I do back again which is really exciting.
What is the vision for Couche?
I wanted to create desserts that are elegant and had flavours that were still familiar and uncomplicated. The techniques might be complicated but the flavours are all very classic and accessible. The idea was to make French and American desserts available to everyone at an affordable price. So when most people think about desserts they think about maybe cake and basic pastries or ice cream so we wanted to bring some finesse to the idea of dessert applied at premium quality but with flavours that were accessible to everyone.
What were some of the biggest struggles going from home baker to professional kitchen?
There was a big jump from what I was doing at home to setting up a cloud kitchen. Earlier it was very relaxed but the professional kitchen was a bit more of a hassle. Luckily I found a space quite quickly and close to my home. Sourcing the equipment was another big undertaking to bake at that scale but at least for the ingredients, I was already familiar with the space having been there for so long as a home baker. Another new challenge for me was what I wanted to do with the brand and I was confused about where I wanted to go in terms of branding and marketing and how to present Couche to the world. This is something that I’m still struggling with.
What is the key to success in this space?
If you stick to your timelines and give the customer a good experience from start to finish from the time they place the order to delivery you’ll be ok. And you cannot compromise on quality even a little bit even after you’re established and comfortable. As long as your customers are happy with the experience, you’ll succeed.
How do you plan to evolve and keep growing your menu?
I have an idea where every month or so I want to add to our menu to make sure nobody’s getting bored with what we’re doing. I started off with things like the Pistachio Tea Cake and more classic flavours and now I want to add things that are more fun and experimental to slowly and surely reach as many people as we can.
What’s your vision for the future?
Along with bringing about the accessibility to premium desserts at an affordable price range, I also am looking forward to growing the business in whatever way I can. The long-term plan is to set up more cloud kitchens across Bombay and even across India. And idealistically someday also have a little dessert cafe of my own. I’m very happy to be doing this, it’s what brings me joy and I can’t wait for more people to try what Couche has to offer.