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How to become a Pastry Chef? Celebrity Chef Pooja Dhingra on the role of training, skills needed [Excl.]

Of all the kitchen tasks one takes on their shoulders as a part of the hospitality industry, the role of a Pastry Chef or Pâtissiers is considered to be the one that comes with a lot of creative freedom. As mouthwatering as it looks, Pastry Chefs who redefine this role often believe that the sugar coat is not that easy to digest.

But how does one become a Pastry Chef? What is the importance of formal training in a world of rising self-taught bakers? From the right kind of education and training to the changing face of the industry in the social media era – what can a person do to become a successful Pastry Chef? Who better to answer these questions than a celebrated Pastry Chef herself.

Pooja Dhingra is not a name that needs introduction. Touted as one of the youngest and most successful Pastry Chefs of the country, Dhingra is often credited for being a flag-bearer of the evolution of gourmet desserts in the country. 12 years in the making, this #NoSugarCoat star and entrepreneur has taken the dessert industry by storm with her venture Le15 Patisserie. Now determined to reach ‘every family’s pantry,’ this Pastry Chef, CEO and content creator is busy winning hearts.
But 12 years back, Pooja Dhingra never imagined making it to the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia List. She was just another pastry arts student looking to live her childhood dream. So today, while we all know her as the Macaron Queen of India, what we now are interested in knowing is how she became the celebrated Pastry Chef that she is. In an exclusive interview with Times Now, Pooja Dhingra answers fundamental questions on ‘How to become a Pastry Chef in this Instagram era.’ From the importance of training to how young chefs should use Instagram, the macaron queen sets the tone by saying, “Pastry is a skill, it’s an art. The more you practice it, the better you get at it.”
Source - Pooja Dhingra LinkedIn
Source – Pooja Dhingra LinkedIn

Learning the Pastry Arts – India vs Abroad

When it comes to training, Pooja Dhingra learnt from the best. After completing her Bachelor in Hospitality and Tourism from César Ritz Colleges, Switzerland, she went on to pursue a Diploma in French Pastry from one of the world’s best culinary school, Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. “I learnt in Paris and it is the home of French pastry. For me, it was a really new experience as there were so many things I didn’t know. I had no idea what a macaron was, what a financier was. I was having some of these things for the first time,” she says with a confident smile.

Preaching pastry as an art, Pooja swears by the importance of ‘practice’ in becoming a successful Pastry Chef. The macaron queen believes that it’s all about learning the skill regardless of the way. “Paris was a great experience for me and being in the heart of where everything is happening was truly different. I am not sure of what the situation or the teaching techniques are like here but there are some excellent schools that are doing really great work,” she says.

Everything takes time, effort and consistency and discipline. So, I think, if you are really patient and you put in all the effort, you will see the results.

– Pooja Dhingra, Celebrity Chef, CEO & Founder Le15 Patisserie

Also Read | How to become a CEO? Vineeta Singh guides on the role of mathematics, IITs, IIMs and the skills needed [Excl.]

The new Pastry – Celebrity Chefs vs Self-taught bakers

A young and revolutionary Pastry Chef that she is, Pooja Dhingra touts herself as the accidental content creator today with over 7 Million followers on Instagram. Crowned as the celebrity chef, she subtly refutes social media adding the ‘celebrity’ in ‘celebrity chefs’ but acknowledges the presence of such celebrated personalities long before. “I feel that celebrity chefs existed a lot before Instagram. I know I got the title of celebrity chef before I got the title of influencer. I don’t believe in titles in general,” she says.

But she acknowledges that the face of pastry industry is changing. On the topic of ‘self-taught bakers’ becoming popular, especially through Instagram she says, “Some of the really good bakers and bakeries right now are run by people that are self-taught. I see these amazing pastry chefs that are really shaking things up, really looking at pastry as an art and not that pastry is an afterthought and that food is your main meal. So, I really see that change happening and there is a lot of disruption.”

I was in Paris recently and a lot of pastry I saw there is very comparable to what we are seeing in India and that is pretty amazing.

– Pooja Dhingra, Celebrity Chef, CEO & Founder, Le15 Patisserie

Tips for young Pastry Chefs and how to grow via social media

The macaron queen of India also learnt from some great Pastry Chefs before she started Le15 Patisserie. Today, she encourages young chefs to be patient and train as much as possible. Emphasising on the importance of work experience, Dhingra says, “I feel that if you are a young pastry chef and are trying to make it in this industry, you must work under some really good chefs and try to get as much experience as you can because like I said, on the outside, the industry looks really great and it looks like really fun and for the most part it is. But it is very tough, it is challenging.”

But the growth of social media is also changing things. On being asked how fruitful it is for young Pastry Chefs to use it for their influence, she believes that Instagram is a great place to connect with your audience and show ‘who you are and what you do.’

Pooja Dhingra at Le15 Source - Pooja Dhingra LinkedIn
Pooja Dhingra at Le15, Source – Pooja Dhingra LinkedIn

Guiding on how to showcase the pastry arts via Instagram, Pooja Dhingra encourages people to ‘start and be disciplined.’ She adds, “How do you build a story out of what you are doing, why is something on your menu, why you have used a certain kind of frosting – talking about those details really helps engage your users and customers better.”

Today, Pooja Dhingra is more than just a ‘Celebrity Pastry Chef’. She is a dreamer, believer and is working towards taking Le15 Patisserie to every city. While celebrating small wins everyday, she also wishes to climb Mt. Fuji one day, for which she has already started her preparations. During her exclusive conversation with Times Now, she plays the fun #PastryRapidFire and lays down the roadmap on ‘How to become a Pastry Chef’ in this day and age. As she concludes her masterclass, she asks everyone to be patient and trust the process.

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