The HT Brunch Game Show: Which Lockdown Chef will go into business? – brunch feature

Sana Vora, Mumbai, 29 Entrepreneur


Ever baked before lockdown? No. I began with banana bread, and then got obsessed.

Some things you’ve made: My father’s favourite fresh cream pineapple cake, wholewheat baked vada-pav, vegan ramen and focaccia garden bread. I bake four times a week and pick out recipes from Instagram and YouTube.

Mistakes made: My salted caramel sauce went wrong when I used leftover cream that had gone bad. It taught me to taste my ingredients. When I tried to make an almond-flour tart with less butter, I salvaged it by adding chocolate chips, eggs and butter, and baking it.

The biggest joy of baking: When I see someone enjoying something I’ve made.

Your dream menu: Healthy cakes and breads. I try and avoid refined sugar, maida or butter, and it tastes just as good!

Parikshaat Wadhwani, 31, Designer


Have you baked before? Cookies, a year or so ago. With work, there was no time.

Some things you’ve made: I baked a mango cake for my brother’s birthday. Before I knew it, I was baking cupcakes, Oreo cheesecake and vanilla and chocolate panna cotta on weekends. I watched YouTube videos for techniques and discovered hacks for when ingredients weren’t available.

Mistakes made: I froze a red velvet cake so it turned hard.

The biggest joy of baking: The aroma, for sure. I also enjoy listening to soothing music while baking. My brother’s reaction to a pefectly-turned out cheesecake makes my day. Also, there’s my Instagram feed!

Your dream menu: Tarts, macarons, cookies, sev barfi, rasmalai, shahi tukda, kulfi, kheer and kajukatli − Indian desserts are underrated.

Urvi Mukherjee, 27, Television executive


Have you baked before? I was seven years old when I first baked. But as I grew older, I stopped.

Some things you’ve made: I was obsessed with the chocolate cake in Matilda. So, I decided to try that. I experimented with choco chip sea-salt biscuits with crunchy grains of sugar and a healthy cookie made with natural peanut butter, jaggery and eggs.Haven’t tried baking bread yet.

Mistakes made: I overfilled a baking tin while making chocolate cake and the batter flowed out, leaving an empty centre. So, I filled it with cream cheese and homemade cherry jam. It was yummy!

The biggest joy of baking: Cooking and baking are more calming and helpful than years of therapy and medication.

Your dream menu: A limitless menu, like a three-fruit tart where you can pick the combination of fruits!

Pooja Dhingra, celebrity chef and owner of Le15 Patisserie plays judge, and picks the winner

And the winner is…Parikshaat Wadhwani

“Parikshaat seems the most promising baker of the three because he seems to enjoy the process,” says Mumbai’s star baker Pooja Dhingra. “His approach is quite adaptable and his quest to learn about hacks when ingredients are not available is a great quality to have.” Dhingra says: “Sana Vora works with healthier ingredients, which is more challenging. Urvi’s strength is that she is quick to act. Things don’t go the way you plan in the kitchen. So, to be able to fix things is a winning trait!”

From HT Brunch, September 6, 2020

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