by Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Dr. Asheena Batra is a dentist by education, but she left behind her clinic to start her baking venture - Cocomom Cakes. She is based out of Chandigarh, and is one of the Top 10 Cake Artists of 2019 in India as per Cake Masters magazine. She also conducts Art of Living workshops for meditation and believes that it is important to keep her going with her now hectic baking job. She has clients from not just Chandigarh, but even neighbouring areas of Punjab, Harayana and Himachal Pradesh. She gives back to the baking community by offering a full-time apprenticeship for 45 - 60 days under her to train those who want to become full-time bakers. We got the chance to speak to her about all things baking!
1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. What is your baking speciality?
A Dentist by education, an Art of Living teacher by choice and a Cake Artist by destiny. Always have been fascinated by lovely cakes, huge, sculpted, decorated cakes and sugar art. I started as a part-time baker when I conceived my second child. Since then, I am successfully running “COCOMOM Cakes” to cater to my clients in Chandigarh, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. Till date, I have acquired many skills and have been practising them successfully, although cake making and edible art are vast subjects and I still see myself as a seeker and learner. I mostly make wedding cakes and sculpted cakes.
2. What was life like pre-baking and how has baking shaped it to be now?
I used to conduct Art of Living meditation workshops for the youth and had my own dental clinic as well. It was good and life was stable. It was when I had my second child that I got into baking and cake art. Sometimes it’s too many orders and continuous working that is tiring, but when you look at the final product, it is all worth it.
3. Was it difficult when you decided to quit your job as a dentist and turn to cake making full time?
I did not find it difficult at all to quit my previous career. My Mother in Law, husband and the rest of my family all supported my decision.
4. What were the initial difficulties that you faced, and how has it helped you become the baker you are today?
As per my experience, working as a Cake Artist is as challenging as working as a dentist. It is also a full-time job like a doctor or a lawyer, and every order is a new part of the job. Clients also find a way to keep testing you with last-minute orders and challenging designs. For me, the daily practice of Sudarshan Kriya and Meditation helps me keep going. It is all thanks to my Guru, Sri Sri Ravishankar Ji. My mother in law has been of great help for her continuous support, without which it would not be possible to run my business with two naughty children.
5. You're a Top 10 Cake Artist for the year 2019! What do you think were the key factors that helped you gain this acclaim?
My mindset was to accept the acclaim and not expect any further but to also keep growing as an artist. I believe I still have to compete with myself and learn from my mistakes.
6. After becoming a Top 10 Cake Artist, what are some things that changed in your life? Have you had the opportunity to take part in more baking events, or even connect more with your audience?
Nothing much has changed in my life except the motivation I got after the award to do even better than before. I now believe that the sky's the limit.
7. Do you teach baking and cake decorating as well? Why or why not?
I do not get enough time to conduct classes due to continuous orders. I have taught cake-art in the past but I now only take up orders by clients.
8. Do you have any upcoming workshops that our bakers and readers could take part in?
I offer a full-time certificate apprenticeship for 45- 60 days, during which one can learn all the tips and tricks of Cake Art and the business side of things as well. If anyone wishes to take up this business sincerely, you can opt for the program.
9. Where do you think the home baking industry of India is heading? What do you think the future holds?
The Home baking industry is still in its nascent stage. It is going to grow very fast, undoubtedly. It may sound bizarre but people still compare a super moist cake made with high-quality ingredients, on which an artist has spent multiple hours, to a factory-made cheap cake. This is nothing but ignorance about home baking. In the coming days, this is going to subside.
Upcoming cake artists need to understand the importance of learning the skills from skilled artists instead of merely referring to free tutorials. Learning and creativity will be the key to your success.
10. You've also won other awards before, tell us how it feels to be recognized in this industry that has very few award shows, etc?
Awards are my motivation for continuing with good work.
If you get carried away with achievements, you won’t be able to reach what God has planned for you. Recognition of skills is only a reminder to do better.
11. What do you think of homebakers.co.in as a platform which brings bakers and customers together? What effect do you think it will have on the industry?
Suppose that you are an amazing baker or a Cake Artist. You bake really well but you don't have any customers, because you are not present in the physical market and you don't know how to showcase your products online. You need proper marketing skills for that. Marketing nowadays is very expensive and requires skill. Home bakers don't have a standing in any market, so they need to get to the customers by other methods. Social media plays an important role but again marketing on social media requires too much money, time, effort and skills. Not everyone has this. At the same time, customers looking for the best quality products are losing out.
Homebakers.co.in is a wonderful effort to bridge this gap between home bakers and clients. Thank you for being there and helping for the cause.
12. We are conducting a Top 100 home bakers and best baking brands awards this month! How do you think this will help the industry and the home bakers?
As I said, Motivation is always required for anybody to raise the standards. The ones topping the chart will be motivated to do even better. The ones who could not get to the top will certainly work hard to get into the list next time. Healthy Competition is always great for motivating people and helping them hone their skills.
India's 100 Top Home Bakers & The Best Baking Brands
It's about time that INDIA'S TOP 100 BAKERS & BAKING SUPPLY BRANDS from North to South, East to West are recognised. 15 industry stalwarts (Top cake artists, cake makers and chefs) from across the country with varying skills and background will find these bakers and brands through a detailed well defined and rigorous evaluation process, as we are certainly looking for nothing but the BEST.
The nomination process is now open and will remain open until 31st October 2019, 11:59 pm. No entries after the last date will be accepted. This is a self-nomination form that needs to be completed by home bakers who wish to be part of the study. The person nominated must be – at least 18 years of age, a resident of India, and a home baker with no commercial bakery store. To apply, go to http://bit.ly/india_top_bakers_brands
That was Dr. Asheena Batra. It's a truly inspiring story for all the home bakers and cake artists. Here are some of her creations.
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