Published: 29th April 2019
What Bengaluru's 'Sugar Fairy' Seema Punjabi picked up from Marco Pierre White
Seema Punjabi tells us what inspires her to bake those funky cakes that make her timeline look uber exquisite and sinfully delish
There is a reason why Marco Pierre White is called the godfather of modern cooking and why so many young chefs out there look up to him. While most home bakers only have visual encounters with him via television and social media, Seema Punjabi is among the few fortunate ones who got to meet him in person and pick his brain to see where the food magic happens. When I asked how that meeting went, she was ecstatic to the point of losing it, "This is one of those throwback moments for me right now because talking to this legend in the food industry was breathtaking. His advice on humility swept me off my feet. I distinctly remember what he said, 'No matter how big you make it in life, never forget your humble beginnings and always go back to your roots'.
Starstruck: Seema idolises the godfather of modern cooking Marco Pierre White
Did Seema always know that she wanted to be a home baker? Apparently not, "I worked with Thomson Reuters as a senior quality analyst, but I was never happy with what I was doing although I possessed the skills. I was a foodie and always got excited when I was around desserts and delicacies. At every party I went to, I would savor the menu," she laughs. She goes on to talk about how one of those office parties actually led to her pursuing home baking as a career, "At one of the office parties, a few years ago, I saw cupcakes that were so elegantly designed by a home baker. That was something very new to me and being the adventurous soul that I am, I was instantly inspired to go pursue home baking full time," she recollects.
Minimum order: Seema bakes at least three cakes every day and there are some days when she has to push herself to bake eight customised akes all by herself
Seema enrolled herself in baking workshops and improved the quality of her cakes and pastries through trial and error. She tells us, "I remember those days when I used to go back home from work and try baking a few cupcakes and then I would do the quality-testing with my colleagues. I did that more often than ever only to realise that I really wanted to pursue this for a living." Eventually, she realised that this was IT, "I could picture myself baking cakes every single day. Then again, the monotony of my desk job got to me and I eventually quit my job on my own terms," she adds.
How many?: Seema once baked a 1000 cupcakes for an event all by herself
So she quit her highg-paying job and invested in a kitchen full of bake-grade equipment, "It took me eight to nine trials to bake a decent cupcake. I often reminisce over the first order (for thirty cupcakes) that I received. I got really good feedback and that sort of pushed me to get better at baking." Right after, she set up The Sugar Fairy pages on Instagram and on Facebook and started marketing her work to the rest of the world. "Initially, it was hard to set my customer base especially because baking is very competitive," she says.
But you know what they say — 'love conquers all' and 'love is sugar'. Once her baking started to get out there, the orders started to tumble in. Five years down the line, life — and her kitchen — is very different.
Tough spot: Seema's biggest challenge was to make a Ferrari cake
To give you an idea, here's how many cakes she bakes on an average, "I bake at least three cakes every day and most of them are customised. On a few hectic days, I bake eight cakes without any help. I get birthday orders and my most popular orders are for bachelors and bachelorette parties. The best part of my job is the creativity aspect. I get to be as creative as possible and also learn different aspects of creativity from different people as well, because when individuals place their orders, they come in with their ideas and that brings a whole other perspective," she explains.
What's next? You can expect to see The Sugar Fairy Cafe soon, if that's what is popping into your head right now. And Seema is just as excited as you are about it. "I am looking forward to opening my own cafe soon. Yes I will call it 'The Sugar Fairy' as that title describes my personality best," she signed off waving her 'sweet' wand.