08 Jul From Clumsy to Superchef – Shivangi Daga
Our constant search for finding Home Culinaires led us this time all the way to Chennai where we got to meet Shivangi Daga, the winner of Superchef 2014, a popular baker and known for her fun baking classes. Was all this planned?? Let’s get to know her better.
Extremely fond of eating, her spoilt childhood was spent reading Archies and munching on Uncle Chips. ‘I used to love eating generally. I loved eating chocolate tarts at cookie jar bakery in Kolkata, where I grew up. In fact baking happened to me because I looked forward to lick the pan and drink half of the thumbs up that was used for baking, she said laughingly. I baked my first cake when I was in class 7th. No one was at home and I wanted to eat, so after much of an effort I baked a cake. It was more of a dumbbell than a cake, so hard that it could have been used to hit someone’s head. Now if I think perhaps the baking soda was not correct. It was so unbelievably wrong.’
‘I got into serious cooking after my marriage. But I liked doing fancy cooking, just like my mother. She was a big influence on me while growing up. She would make us pizza, paav bhaji all at home. So with Masterchef as a guiding light, I began into experimenting with different cuisines and styles. In fact my beloved husband had to get used to all my experimentation. I was so thrilled after marriage in doing these new intrinsic cuisine and menu. My husband though liked the typical Indian food. Once for dinner I prepared a Mexican meal with tacos and nachos. So my husband after finishing it asks me, “ok so now where is the food?” I was like this is food. We could not stop laughing’. She very proudly tells us that he now have started to enjoy her experimentation. Though her in-laws still prefer the typical Indian malai kofta. Her biggest victory has been her husband who loves her Kaho suey the most.
From being clumsy experimenter to a super chef how did the transition happened? My friend called me inviting to her daughter cup cake party. I told her let me bake the cup cakes for you. She said it’s about 400. I took it up and shared with her 6 different varieties of cup cakes. So how did it go? Well as it always does, I had baked about 300 cup cakes when I realised that the quantity of sugar in those was not right. I was using a wrong measuring cup. I baked all 400 cupcakes again from scratch. This made her realise the importance of measuring in bakery since its pure science and flukes don’t usually work. Post that one thing led to another. Someone in the party told her about an exhibition they were doing for kids where she booked a stall and put about 500 varieties of different products and got sold out by 2 pm. People took her card and few of them exchanged numbers. ‘2012 was the year when I became a professional. I also started investing a lot of my time on reading about recipes, what goes where, how each ingredient works etc. I have been wanting to do something that would have also allowed me the flexibility to work from home and use my time effectively. ‘Sweet Nothings’ was the perfect way to make my choice into reality.
She by then had participated in Superchef, registering the very last day on behest of a friend. Traversing from one round to another and getting to the finals, she was awarded the winner of Superchef 2014. ‘Now my baking classes have become extremely popular in Chennai. I do minimum 4 – 8 batches every month for students of a group size of 12 to 15. I also get invited to various other cities to hold such workshops. Its very encouraging for her to see how varied age groups enjoys and wants to learn baking different kind of treats.
By now her cake her Salted caramel tart was also ready which we were dying to taste. We ended our conversation with tasting or rather shamelessly gobbling whole-wheat chocolate cake and Salted caramel custard tarts and laughing over how her daughters have already decided to take over ‘Sweet Nothings‘ and turn it into ‘Sweet Everything‘. We don’t disagree to that for everything we had did have the right quantity of sweetness to it.