by Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Joonie Tan is a pastry artist based in Bangalore. She’s the owner of 180 Degree Celsius and a faculty member at the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts. She’s famously known for her beautiful wedding cakes and her royal icing work. Her teaching has helped hundreds of people achieve their baking dreams. Her students have gone on to become chefs at various hotels in India and internationally. We had the opportunity to chat with her about her baking prowess and about the home baking industry in India.
1. As someone who has trained several bakers, what is it that first inspired you to start baking and to turn it into your career?
Joonie - Baking has always been my go-to activity. Because of my aunt (mom's younger sister) who's a very passionate and amazing baker, it inspired me to take up baking and eventually cake art as a career. This was an influence on me ever since I was very young.
2. Lavonne is one of the most sought after institutes for baking in India, and not many such institutes existed before it. Tell us about the impact that you've created through Lavonne.
Joonie -Lavonne is India's first international baking academy that has an international accreditation (City and Guilds, UK). We started at an early stage when the baking industry was about to boom, and this definitely helped us gain ground right from the beginning. Over the years, Lavonne had churned out thousands of students, either in the Diploma in Patisserie, our 6-week certificate course or even from our short courses in Patisserie or Cake Arts. Baking, to date, is no longer a hobby but a career that one can choose to go after.
3. You're renowned for your wedding cakes. Tell us a little bit about the trends right now and how much time it takes for you to build one of your masterpieces.
Joonie -Trends come and go! The current trend is mix media textures cake, an abstract is a big hit, and also clean, solid structure cakes! Depending on the size and complexity of the design, a wedding cake masterpiece can take between two to three days for me to create.
4. You've met quite a few world-renowned chefs. Which was the most memorable and what did you learn from them?
Joonie -All the cake artists I have learnt from are great and have left a great impression! For me to go and learn from another cake artist means I really look up to his or her work! From basic buttercream work to big gravity-defying structural cakes, being able to learn from them is very memorable for me.
5. What is one thing you do differently now than from the time you started baking professionally?
Joonie -Time management and knowing how to say NO to a client is something I have learned over the years. In the initial stage of my cake decorating journey, I tried to take up as many cake orders as possible, spending nights and days in the production kitchen just churning out orders. This made me lose out on a lot of my time with my family and friends, which is just not worth it.
Right now, I take up just enough cake orders to keep me busy (in addition to conducting classes), but not to the extent of me missing out on my social life. Also, when I just started, I tried to do as much as possible and took up whatever design or theme that came to me, even if it’s not my style of cakes. Right now I'm more careful when it comes to accepting an order, being more selective on the design of cakes. I only do those cakes that I match my style of design.
6. What do you think the future holds for the home baker industry in India?
Joonie -As more and more home bakers are sprouting all over the country from the past few years, home baking is definitely becoming more and more popular and can be a career for many out there. Having said that, I see a red alert sign when it comes to the quality of products and industry ethics. The governing body really needs to lay out a clear set of rules and implement a set of regulations (licenses and code of conduct) for anyone who wants to be in the baking industry in order for this industry to be sustainable.
7. How can one update their knowledge and keep up with trends in the baking or cake decorating industry?
Joonie -Keep learning! Learning can never stop. This is what I strongly believe in. In this social media world, it's easy for anyone to find out the latest trends that are happening. Do more research, be more attentive to what's happening in the world and you can never miss out on anything baking-wise.
8. What are your thoughts about the HomeBakers.co.in and the Bake Shows that it conduct across India?
Joonie -The bake show was professionally organized and the organizing team did a great job. The website will surely change the home baker industry in India.
That was Joonie Tan. It's a truly inspiring story for all the home bakers and cake artists. Here are some of her creations.
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
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