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Jayati Godhawat

IWB Blogger

Le15 Patisserie Founder, Pooja Dhingra Treats IWB With Macaron-y Chat

  • IWB Post
  •  February 1, 2017


Each one of us possesses a superpower, and for Pooja Dhingra, it’s baking. A renowned pastry chef and a young entrepreneur, Pooja basically introduced macarons, a french pastry, in India and opened the first ever macaron store in India, Le 15, in Mumbai.

Since her first store in 2010, Pooja has expanded her bakery business and now has three outlets in Mumbai. She has also authored, The Big Book of Treats, which is like a dream-come-true for all the home bakers. In order to pass on her knowledge and experience, she has also founded a culinary center in Mumbai, Studio Fifteen.

In 2014, she was listed on Forbes India’s prestigious 30 under 30 list.

Indian Women Blog got a chance to interact with the Pastry Chef and we sure dipped into the macaron-y life of Pooja. Here’s are some excerpts:

Indian Women Blog: Introduce yourself as a macaron.

Pooja: Well, I’m Indian and I love my daily cup of chai, but I also love macarons, so I’d say a Chai Macaron!

Indian Women Blog: Many don’t have the courage to turn back after entering a particular field. What made you decide to switch from law to hospitality and then to becoming a pastry chef?

Pooja: I grew up in a family that is obsessed with food. My father owned a Mexican restaurant when I was growing up and I spent all my summer holidays at the restaurant. My mother is a home baker and watching her bake rubbed off on me.

I thought I wanted to be a lawyer and joined Law School. That lasted for exactly 2 weeks. LOL! I realized that Law wasn’t for me and moved to Switzerland to study Hospitality Management at Cesar Ritz Colleges. After the Hospitality Management, I went to get training at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris.

Indian Women Blog: You were perfecting recipes at home with your friends, initially. Tell us about the fun moments you had with them, during the time?

Pooja: Ahhh… There have been so many! While setting up Le15, I would often call my friends over for trials and tastings. I remember this one time when my friend was helping me bake cupcakes, she landed up adding a cup of salt instead of sugar! You can imagine the end result.

Haha, I can totally imagine!

Indian Women Blog: Describe your love for macarons.

Pooja: While living in Paris I discovered my love for macarons. I still remember standing outside a pastry shop on a windy day in Paris, and biting into my first passion fruit macaron, and that’s exactly where the idea to bring the macaron back to India started.


Image result for drooling gifs


Indian Women Blog: The most hurtful moment that patriarchy created during your start-up phase?

Pooja: When I was setting up my kitchen seven years back, a Government official asked me, “Aapke husband kaha hai? Off ho gaye hai kya?” He couldn’t believe that a 23-year-old girl is setting up her own business.


Indian Women Blog: Every baker dreams of a bakery shop. How did your dream of your own store turn into reality?

Pooja: My vision for Le15 was clear. I wanted to recreate a piece of my life in Paris. I wanted to make wonderful desserts, using the best ingredients I could find and serve happiness in a box. I started out with an initial funding from my family, 5 years ago. Since then, I have been on my own. It’s been exhilarating!

Indian Women Blog: What mistakes would you advise to avoid while starting their own business?

Pooja: No need to stress and make hasty decisions! Everything passes. Try to live in the moment. If it’s too difficult or too good, it will all pass.

Indian Women Blog: What’s the most daring idea you have got for Le 15 from your travel diaries?

Pooja: I am always inspired by my travels. During my visit to Japan, I discovered my love for Matcha. I decided to incorporate that and do a limited edition menu at Le15. It was definitely a risk as matcha in desserts was not heard of back then. But it was a lot of fun and the series did well too!

Indian Women Blog: Tell us one interesting story related to your book, ‘Big Book of Treats.’

Pooja: While studying in Paris, I remember asking my chef how to make an eggless cupcake. He seemed baffled. The idea of not using eggs in a cake recipe was just not acceptable to him. I explained to him that many people in India do not eat eggs. That’s why, while writing “The Big Book of Treats,” keeping in mind the Indian mindset, I made sure to add a lot of recipes which were egg free.

Indian Women Blog: Tell us about one student you are proud of.

Pooja: Actually, I have two: Bhagyashree, who is still working with me, and Maitri, who worked with me a few years back. Both of them are extremely hard working, talented, and make me proud every day. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for them!

IWB: What’s the craziest food you have tried while traveling?

Pooja: A live squid!

Image result for live squid gif

Say whaaaaattt?

IWB: Share one memory of baking failure.

Pooja: When in pastry school, I once dropped a 20 kg cake from the third floor. There was cake everywhere – on the walls, tables, everywhere.

IWB: Who’s your biggest fan and critic from the family?

Pooja: My parents are my biggest fans. And, my biggest critic is definitely my brother.

IWB: If you had to turn macarons into a fashion accessory, what would it be?

Pooja: Earrings. They would look cute worn in the ears!


IWB: What’s your favorite part of the baking process?

Pooja: Thinking of new recipes and ideas always excites me.

IWB: What was the one thing which pre-heated your success story?

Pooja: Hard work! I worked in the kitchen all day, every day trying new recipes, making mistakes, and trying again till I got the perfect result.

IWB: Who is the macaron of your life?

Pooja: My dog, Leo!


IWB: One woman baker’s myth you would like to burn?

Pooja: People think that women have it easy in the industry. Well, the truth is that women work equally hard in the kitchen, as well as outside, and are equally deserving. 

True that!

Photo Source: Pooja Dhingra

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