Since childhood, Chef Devashree Muni has been passionate about food. She was informed that her love for food stems from genetics, as she hails from a food-loving family. Chef Devashree Muni graduated with a bachelor of management studies (BMS) and did a bakery course at Sophia Polytechnic. She then decided to turn my passion into a career and decided to go to Le Cordon Bleu, Sydney. Cocoa Cellar aims to provide a wide range of alcohol combinations with desserts. Hence, open a dessert bar in the future.

Intoxicating Desserts – alcohol-infused treats at Cocoa Cellar

Ask Devashree Muni  Cocoa Cellar owner what she feels about dessert, and she'll say it's a happily-ever-after to a lovely supper, a fairy tale. Cocoa Cellar is a central Mumbai's pâtisserie that aims to treat its patrons to a delightful experience in the form of tantalizing desserts. Cocoa Cellar uses a full range of ingredients: pecans, Belgian chocolates, Philadelphia cream cheese, marshmallows or hazelnuts, or specially imported liquors such as Blood Orange Cointreau Amarula Kirsch, Baileys, Moët & Chandon Champagne, Malibu Rum and Kahlua. 

Some of the most popular desserts here are:

  1. Dark chocolate and Amarula cupcake
  2. Cashew and whiskey cookies
  3. Walnut and coffee loaf
  4. Tiramisu (cocoa misu)

Here she learned that creating desserts was her raison d’etre. In the past, Chef Devashree interned with MakMak Macarons & The Langham in Sydney, Australia and Trident BKC, Mumbai. She states, “Since childhood, I've been impassioned about fare. So I concentrated my training solely on these desserts, having realised that this could be a niche market in India. And voila! Cocoa Cellar was born.”

What is your childhood cooking memory?

I’ve grown up seeing my mom and aunts at home prepare delicious food, be it for celebrations or festivals. I started developing an interest in learning about food and cooking when I was in school and was fascinated by how simple ingredients can become something magnificent in the end. 

What made you pursue cooking?

I started baking in 2013 with a building friend cause we were bored. It started with cookies, and after a few weeks or so of baking, I realised that I love it, and this is what’s want to pursue. So that’s how my passion turned into my business. 

Tell us about the journey to Cocoa Cellar, the roadblocks and the success

  • We at Cocoa Cellar focus on alcohol-infused desserts, which sets us apart from the rest. In addition, our deep focus on sourcing the choicest ingredients, like using only Belgian chocolate and imported liquors, etc., is a differentiator in the chocolates. Quality is essential, and that’s what Cocoa Cellar is all about.

  • Talking about the roadblocks, tapping the “healthy dessert” market is a hurdle. Everyone has become very health conscious now and look for alternatives to sugar, flour, butter, and lactose. However, it is something that I’m still working on and sceptical about whether to start or not, as all my desserts are pure indulgences.
  • The response to my desserts has been excellent, which is our brand's most considerable success. Everyone who has ordered has given positive feedback, which only pushes me to continue doing my best every time. In addition, our patrons lauded and appreciated everything from its texture, richness, and aftertaste.

What is your favourite comfort food?

My comfort food is home food. There’s nothing like getting back from a long holiday and eating home-cooked food. I realised the importance when studying in Sydney at Le Cordon Bleu. My favourite dessert to bake is cakes. All kinds of cakes, be it Tiramisu, Sacher torte or boozy chocolate ones. 

The pandemic hugely affected the food and beverage industry. How did it affect you personally?

My passion for baking has helped me grow and earn without giving up on my dreams. I would say the pandemic was & still is a game-changer from a health point of view and business. When the pandemic started, everyone was terrified to order due to hygiene conditions. And this was a natural reaction. The way it was rapidly spreading and changing would have scared anyone. But with time, it’s getting better now in medical terms. I looked at this as an opportunity to ensure that I provide the best product in the healthiest and hygienically safest way possible. After all, only those who look at it from this point of view would survive. I started the business in February last year, before the pandemic and subsequent lockdown. It did give me a bit of shock but did not deter me from following my passion. I kept on changing my plans as per the pandemic need. I did have plans to do more in terms of setting up stalls in fairs and malls. But for now, I’m just taking it slowly till things get smoother with the pandemic. At this moment, the slow & steadily hygienic will win the race. Hopefully, things get better soon.

Did you see or try any food trends that became prominent shortly?

Alcohol-based desserts are starting to get popular in India only recently. Patisseries and cafes in India don’t have a full-fledged alcohol dessert menu and instead only serve one or two dishes. Although incorporating alcohol into desserts is not a new concept altogether, chefs are now finding unique ways to integrate boozy flavours, given the popularity of classic treats like Tiramisu. Alcohol is a flavour enhancer and provides a way to take nostalgic desserts and make them a little sexier.

Anything that would you like to share with the aspiring chefs?

This field requires much hard work like any other field. So be patient and work hard. Learn new skills and keep practising. It’s all about the practice to improve each day and to build confidence. Keep researching your work and gain as much work experience as you can.

What are your future plans?

For now, I keep introducing new products to the menu. But, of course, adding new things to the menu requires much trial as this field is all about innovation. So I keep thinking of other products and experimenting accordingly. Talking about the plans, having set up only in the last year, our focus at Cocoa Cellar will be on tapping the existing market efficiently first before moving ahead with expansion domestically and internationally.