Despite her upbringing in a family associated with the garment industry, Sheeba Dhawan always nurtured a passion for cooking. She chose a traditional route in the beginning, and after completing her education in Design she jumped into the family business. It was the lockdownthat finally gave her the opportunity to focus on her real dream. In the last few months, under her brand name ‘Crave to Plate’, Dhawan has carved a niche for herself as a talented home chef. She is best known for her exclusive cheese platters and cakes, and for sharing delectable family recipes on her Instagram profile. She spoke to The Daily Guardian, about her entrepreneurial journey so far:
Q: With your family’s garment business beckoning, how did you develop an interest in cooking and baking?
A: My father always loved cooking. I feel he holds the distinction of being a Chef like none other! I instinctively caught on to his passion as a 5-year-old, when I saw him stir, whip, grill and create the most memorable meals one could imagine.
Q: Tell us the story behind your brand ‘Crave to Plate’?
A: Over the years, my cooking and baking skills became very popular with my friends and family members, but I could never devote time to themas I was busy running a clothing label.It was impossible in my day to day routine between work and home, to convert my passion into a dedicated business. Finally, the lockdown gave me a chance to take it forward and thus Crave to Plate was born. I began by making beautiful cheese platters and gorgeous cakes and the business is now expanding.
Q: What do you think is the reason for the tremendous popularity of your cakes and cheese platters? Has the lockdown contributed in any specific way?
A: I feel my cakes and cheese platters, in particular, are becoming popular because I always listen to my customers and take into account their tastes, budget and preferences. I feel that the tags and decorative elements that I add on to each creation, elevates their design aesthetic and appeals to people.
With the pandemic and lockdown, people are more cautious and instead of ordering from larger commercial establishments, they are giving preference to smaller start-ups like mine as they feel a comfort factor in terms of the safety and hygiene practices adopted in the kitchen, packaging and the delivery.
Q: Cheese platters have never been a traditional choice of snack in Indian homes. Do you think this concept is changing now?
A: Oh yes, it surely is changing! The world is opening up and people are happy to try new things.
Q: You have recently ventured into making gift hampers and customized occasion cakes. What is your USP that makes you stand apart from your competitors?
A: I believe that my USP is not being afraid to experiment with my products. For my gift hampers and occasion-specific cakes, I spend a lot of time understanding the needs of my clients in terms of flavours, health choices, tags and accompaniments, to ensure the final product is super special for their loved ones.
Q: What are the biggest challenges you have faced in growing your business in the last few months? How have you overcome them?
A: The biggest challenge in the initial phase of the lockdown was to procure the best ingredients because of the restrictions in transportation. An ongoing challenge, however, is maintaining safety and hygiene in the kitchen and packaging, and ensuring that the goodies reach the customers safe and sound so that we retain their trust. By steadfastly watching over the entire production and distribution of my products, I feelI can overcome these challenges.
The interviewer is a lifestyle columnist and blogger at www.nooranandchawla.com. She can be found on Instagram @nooranandchawla.