Imagine a boozy chocolate truffle with cucumber and gin, a fragrant lavender and dark chocolate cake, or an Instagram-famous frosted six-layer explosion cake with a surprise centre of sprinkles, candies, and chopped fresh fruits. These innovative treats are the kind of culinary brilliance Rachel Goenka, founder and CEO, The Chocolate Spoon Company, is known for.
Goenka’s company runs a chain of restaurants such as The Sassy Spoon, House of Mandarin, Wicked China, and Baraza Bars & Bites. The author of Adventures with Mithai has been on magazine covers, walked the ramp for ace designer Neeta Lulla, and been recognised with the ‘Woman Entrepreneur of the Year’ award. Her book is about her love for the versatility of Indian sweets, and the desire to put a spin on them. Think ghevar apple crumble!
In an exclusive tete-a-tete with LF, Goenka talks about her first born, her first book and other firsts she plans in her work.
Of Adventures with Mithai“I love playing around with flavours, and Adventures with Mithai is a result of that,” explains Rachel, the author. Goenka’s book features 50 original recipes that combine local flavours and ingredients with French cooking techniques. From Gajar halwa cake with cream cheese frosting, red velvet cake with shrikhand frosting, to Imarti with coconut ice cream and aamras (mango pulp) and Malibu tiramisu, each recipe showcases how diverse ingredients can co-exist in perfect harmony.
On how she started along this journeyEver since she was a little girl, Goenka was curious about the cooking process as she watched her grandma. Her childhood in Dubai exposed her to multiple cuisines. However, it was during her journalism major days at the Pennsylvania State University that Goenka rekindled her love for cooking. Cooking for her is ‘therapeutic and relaxing’. Post her stint in journalism, she set off on a three-month course to Ireland, where she briefly trained under celebrity chef Rachel Allen, then on to Le Cordon Bleu in London to specialise in patisserie, where she did an apprenticeship with chocolatier Paul A Young.
An entrepreneur at 24
Fresh out of culinary school, Rachel focused on redefining how Indian restaurants curate desserts and brought in new ideas and concepts to Mumbai’s dining circuit. Goenka embarked on her entrepreneurial journey in 2012 with The Chocolate Spoon Company. Later that year, she channeled her passion for desserts into her flagship restaurant - The Sassy Spoon. Since each dish on the menu was a nod to Goenka’s sassy personality, they decided to name the restaurant ‘Sassy Spoon’.
Sassy’s success was followed by the launch of Baraza, House of Mandarin, and Wicked China. Over the past 6 years, TCSC has grown from one restaurant in Mumbai, to 15+ outlets (restaurants and patisseries) across Mumbai and Pune, in addition to event catering, and corporate lunchbox program.
How little Kabir brings vigour to her work
The job this young entrepreneur considers the most rewarding is being a mom to her one-year-old toddler Kabir. “He makes me want to be the best version of myself. I draw strength from him,” says the sassy boss lady.
On balancing her time between baby and work, she says “I am fortunate to have an excellent support system.” Life as a working mom, Rachel shares, has been exciting. It has helped her discover the immense power moms hold. “It has also given me a chance to showcase my resilience and multi-tasking abilities.” Watch the video for some tender moments between Rachel and baby Kabir.
Photos and Video: Dr Suvajeet Duttagupta