-By Akhileshwari Anand Raj
Pooja Lakhotia is the founder of Choc-O-Lock Culinary Art. She runs exclusively eggless baking workshops and teaches various goodies. These include cakes, souffles, puddings, brownies, and even loaves of bread and doughnuts. She is one of the many women who successfully run their business while raising their children, and this is no small feat for her as she has one daughter and one newborn!
Pooja's Facebook page has over 20,000 likes and reviews from hundreds of her students have taken part in her eggless workshops. She took the plunge to make baking and chocolate making her profession, and has built her business to be a huge success that it is today. She credits her success to those who make her life easier, firstly her family, and including her helpers who help her out, as running a business from home while looking after your children is quite a hectic job.
1. As someone who conducts workshops and runs a successful business, how easy is it to do this with two children?
Well, Not so easy with two kids. It demands lots of energy, planning and good time management. But doing what you love is always rewarding and therefore I find joy in being able to do what I do!
2. How do you attain the work-life balance when you work from home?
Working from home itself makes it easier to balance both my personal and professional life. This is especially so because I have the autonomy to make my own professional decisions, always factoring in my personal life. As of now, I have put my classes and workshops on hold for some time, as my younger child needs me more. My family and helpers are very important in all this, they make it possible for me to manage everything with my kids.
3. Was it easy to take the plunge of turning your passion into a profession? What were the difficulties that you faced during your initial days, and was leaving your day job a challenge?
It took time for me to develop this profession. By education, I am a Professor of Commerce, but I was always interested in baking and cooking a lot. During my school days, I used to experiment every Sunday in my kitchen by looking at magazines and newspapers (as the internet was not as accessible then). After a few years of teaching commerce and working in the corporate world, I started my journey in this field as a chocolatier. Initially, I used to take orders, but later on, I just focused on training for eggless goodies as I find myself more passionate about teaching and interacting -especially given that it is my former profession.
4. Have you had any role model or mentor in the cooking industry who has helped you get where you are today? Did you learn techniques on your own or did you attend classes for the same?
Not really, I do not have any role model or mentor. It was my passion that was my driving force initially. As for my baking skills, I am a self-taught baker. For my chocolate making skills, I undertook a basic course from Nirali Cookery. Later on, I got an online certification from 32 Degree Studio, Mumbai.
5. What are a few tips that you would give to newcomers in the field, including overcoming initial challenges?
My top 4 tips would be the following
- Use best quality products and never compromise on quality.
- Inspire and help people to consume healthy treats when they can.
- Hire help if you need it.
- Don’t lose hope. It takes time to learn and be satisfied with your own skills as a home baker - it demands a lot of hard work, passion, and perfection.
That was Pooja Lakhotia, all uncut for you lovely bakers and fans out there. She is a true inspiration and her ideas and techniques make her stand out.
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