I first met Anjee Bhatia over the cliched cup of coffee, at a regular coffee shop after a hectic day at office. And under 5 minutes, I knew I will have a good time working with this happy, curly-haired woman.
She is the Head Chef and Partner at Melete, an online bakery in Kolkata. Not only do they deliver their delectable brownies, celebration cakes, cookies, breads, savouries and sugar free bakery products anywhere in Kolkata, but they also supply to businesses, cater at events and create customized edible gifts hampers.
Well, my mind was stuck at brownies and I knew that I certainly had to ask her a lot of things. So ahead I went…
To begin from the beginning, how did it all start?
I started making hand crafted chocolates as a second year college student. It was mostly self-taught, and a lot of fun. Initially I was giving them away to family, and friends. Then someone told me I could sell them. And that really clicked with me! I started selling chocolates, and chocolate hampers and even got a few huge orders.I loved what I was doing. It was exuberating to be able to create and sell something, and to to make money too!
I learned the ropes of running a business. I ordered packing material, learned various things- small things, like how to make cartons to things like how to calculate profits.
So, how did Chocolatier Anjee turn to Baker Anjee?
After college I decided to go for a professional baking course. I did a full-time Bakery & Confectionary Course from Sophia College, Mumbai, and that opened up a whole new world for me. That intensive course truly build the foundation of my career.
Then my stint as a trainee in the bakery of a leading 5 star hotel in Kolkata gave me the required commercial exposure to the working of the industry. It instilled in me the confidence to pursue my dream of starting a bakery.
Okay, so Baker Anjee was then a Entrepreuner Anjee…
Yes! I started off as a home baker, operating out of my mom’s kitchen, armed with a tiny 10 year old 28 ltr OTG. And, last year, I set up my bakery unit, and geared up to get bigger, and better.
What would you call your forte?
I have always loved brownies, and that’s what I started selling. I got obsessed with making the best brownies ever. I made a lot of them. I found the perfect recipe, and it clicked! Later I moved on to loads of exciting new products- cookies, tarts, quiches, and most recently breads. But still, brownies have a special place in my heart and we make brownies in 10 amazing flavours.
OMG, I almost went into a sugar coma hearing of all those brownies! An enviable coma surely, but coma nonetheless… But hey, don’t you have a whole range of healthy edibles in your kitty too?
Yup. I love experimenting in the bakery (I like calling it my lab) and the result of these experiments is Lite Bites: a healthier alternative to your everyday cookie.
Lite Bites is a range of diabetic friendly cookies, made using stevia as the sweetening agent. It has lot less calories than sugar.
My experiments have not stopped. I want to be able to create Healthier versions of all kinds of desserts, without compromising on the taste. It is no mean task, but I am at it!
Now this is something which I ask all the Restauranteurs. What is it like to own a business?
Our busiest times start in August. We take orders for hampers and platters during Diwali, and for weddings. People love our fusion brownies. During Christmas we are busy with fruit cakes, and brownies. It’s hectic, but a lot of fun too.
A business is not a 9-5 job, it’s more of a ‘when I open my eyes to when I close my eyes’. Specially when you’re starting out, you’re literally handling everything. You’re the accountant, the marketing guy, the social media person, the sourcing guy, the photographer, the designer – all rolled into one. It gets a little crazy, and is pretty overwhelming at times.
But to me, it’s all worth it. Because at the end of it all, you’ve created something. You’re constantly learning. It’s not easy, but it’s not that tough.
I am not too good at coming up with witty questions, really! So my last question has to be – What’s in store for the future?
- A bigger bakery unit (that means more business!).
- A whole new range of healthy products.
- Lots, and lots of brownies.
Well, the last five words surely made me love her all the more. Melete is on Zomato, and once again, she delivers around the city! Yay!