When the passion is strong enough, one would stop at nothing and this has been proven right by Priyanshi Goyal Roongta – A Chartered Accountant and the mother of a 6-month-old toddler who is successfully running Kitchen 55 for close to two years while holding a full-time job.
Priyanshi always dreamt of attending Le Cordon Bleu in Paris for her formal training as a pastry chef, but never really got an opportunity to do so. “I never got a chance to really pursue that but I kept up with reading a lot and continuing my experiments in kitchen. I can proudly boast of a collection of over 100 recipe books that I have collected and read and re-read over the years. My husband, Nikhil, fuelled my dreams and started talking about taking this up professionally and having my own patisserie. Even though I loved the idea, I never had the courage to make it happen”, Priyanshi tells.
Tide turned, and the oh-so-casual eternal love for baking paved the way for an amazing opportunity. A friend commissioned her to bake 150 cupcakes and a centre-piece for his niece’s birthday party. Despite not being a trained professional, or having any staff or professional baking equipment, and no knowledge of pricing, the faith they showed in Priyanshi pushed her to agree to do it. “The brief I got was that it was a garden theme party. I am a full time working professional; hence, the only time I had to do my research was after work hours. I spent 3 nights researching and then baked 150 cupcakes and one centre-piece over a period of 2 days. It was a surprise that I pulled that one off and everyone seemed to just love it! Word got around and I started getting more enquires for such dessert tables and most of them converted into orders. Since then, there has been no looking back”, gushes Priyanshi.
Raised in an academically oriented family of Chartered Accountants and Lawyers, Priyanshi’s family had a very strong influence on her while growing up. Her parents gave her the best of both worlds. Her father motivated her on the academic and adventure front while her mother introduced her to the million shades of life such as arts, books, literature, etc. Her mother’s kitchen pet, Priyanshi feels her style of cooking has been majorly inspired by her mum. “Her sense of aesthetics is rather exquisite which translates into perfectly plated food, beautiful tableware, well thought out menu and elaborate spreads”, she tells us.
An enterprise driven by word of mouth, Kitchen 55 believes in the labour of love. Each one of their cupcakes is handcrafted, using only the finest ingredients available. Elaborating on the kind of work they do, Priyanshi tells us, “Kitchen55 is all about generous and decadent desserts, made to order. I am a Chartered accountant with a job and a 6 months old baby and I still manage to keep Kitchen55 up and running. I think my clients respect the hard work and passion that goes into keeping up with all this and maintain the standards we have set for ourselves.”
Basically working out of a kitchen that functions on ‘ make to order’ model, Kitchen 55 focuses on catering for parties or creating dessert tables but also occasionally accepts smaller requests. Priyanshi sincerely believes on the philosophy that there is no love more sincere than the love for food. Her desire to spread it far and wide has gotten her thinking of indulging into baking classes for kids and baking merchandise such as sugar decorations, baking pans and tools, cookie dough and frosting tubs etc.
Creating elaborate dessert tables, cupcakes and cupcake decoration is what sets Kitchen 55 apart from others. Working with a refined clientele also allows them to stay true to themselves. “Since we go by word of mouth, we mostly end up working with people who come through references. Even though we are open to working with new people coming without reference, we have developed a certain set of clientele who understand gourmet, respect my passion and give me a free hand with both the design and pricing, depending on the flavours they choose” explains Priyanshi.
A typical day in Priyanshi’s life is a juggler act. “I have to divide my time between my office, kitchen55 and my 6 months old daughter. I spend 15 minutes every morning planning my day and I really can’t function without my planner. I make multiple lists of different things to do/ blogs to read/ books to buy/ recipes to try and more. Time management is the only way I can get through my day, even though everything doesn’t go as planned every time”. Spoken like a class act juggler and perfectionist.
But every perfectionist goes through the toughest days.
So, what are the challenges for Kitchen 55?
Running a home kitchen at almost the same overheads as that of a conventional dessert house but providing hand-crafted options is a challenge in itself. “We do not mass produce or use any premixes. We keep no left-overs from the previous day or order. So even though we do not have a retail outlet, our overheads are quite high anyway, and of course the quality of ingredients we use, comes at a price. So at times the clients want discount stating the fact that a particular bakery offers the same price as you. I don’t know how to explain that you don’t come to me for a cheaper option!”she elaborates.
Every challenge has a solution, but maintaining the standards one sets for themselves is the key. “While we are still in the process of overcoming this challenge, we cannot cut back from the salary of our staff or the quality of ingredients. So basically, to make our pricing competitive, as a temporary work around; I have slimmed down the margins as far as possible. Even though we haven’t really made any loss with Kitchen55 yet, I am prepared to give it all I’ve got, just to keep it up and running till we have a steady revenue stream. We’re banking on our expansion plan for that”, says Priyanshi.
Priyanshi takes inspiration from a multitude of things – Right from Pooja Dhingra of Le15 Patisserie, Anthony Bourdain and his travels, Julia Child,Maharani Gayatri Devi and right down to Harry Potter who she feels has made her believe in friendship, love and of course magic.
Stressing on the need for a support system for working women, Priyanshi advices her fellow entrepreneurs to create a tribe of women who understand and appreciate what you do and will offer a hand when needed. Her strong belief is that women from your family, your in laws, your girlfriends from school, college, work are the people who will run the show for you when you need them to.
Her support system has been the rock she has held on to, for all these years. “I would have to give the credit for that to my family, especially my husband Nikhil. There have been times when we both have worked to deliver an order past midnight and sometimes even till morning. Every time that I have felt like I have taken an order too big to fulfil, he makes sure we complete it on time and that’s what keeps me going”, Priyanshi proudly tells us.
She re-iterates – “Family is everything – I don’t know who said this, but I have grown up listening to this and I believe in it.” Running a tight ship, she has set the standards of quality at Kitchen55 pretty high. It has now been set is – the one that what does not taste amazing, does not go out of the kitchen, it will be re done until it is right. Kitchen55 and Priyanshi sound like two stars that will only keep getting brighter and brighter. Like Julia Child had said, “People who love to eat are always the best people.”
And now as her better half Nikhil says : “Once she sets her heart on something, rest assured, she will get it”, we are quite sure that the success and happiness that Priyanshi has set her heart and sights on, will be hers! We, at Storified.Me wish Kitchen55 all the very best.