Baking up a storm

I had only heard of Le 15 and how delicious their cakes and macaroons are, until recently when i got to taste them for myself. The moment I bit into the dark chocolate macaroon, I had to speak to the person responsible for this marvel melting in my mouth. That is when I, from Hobbyist World came across the Magician responsible for Le 15, the one and only, Pooja Dhingra and got into a conversation on how she turned her passion into a profession.

How and when did you get started?

I started Le 15 with initial funding from my family 9 years ago in 2010. It is named after the Parisian neighborhood - the 15th arrondissement where I lived during my time in Paris. Since then we have grown from a team of 4 to nearly 100. We started out with a small kiosk and now have 3 outlets and a cafe, to our name. As for our future plans, I definitely look forward to opening many more Le 15 outlets.

What has been your favorite thing about baking?

Baking doesn’t feel like work for me. I love every minute of it, when you love something so dearly the patience comes with it. Some of my favorite moments in a week are when I am waiting for an oven timer to ring during recipe trials!

How did you decide to become a patissier full time?

I've been fascinated by baking for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories is that of baking brownies for the first time with an aunt. I was amazed at how simple ingredients like eggs, butter, flour, and sugar could create something so delicious and magical. I didn’t always know I wanted to bake, in fact, I’d originally enrolled in law school and changed my mind pretty quickly after I started!

Where did the idea for Le 15 come from?

I was in culinary school in Paris when I tried my first macaron and it was love at first bite. I knew then that I would move back to India and try to make them. Le 15 took off in 2010. It has been a long journey – one of the most satisfying ones so far, and there’s a lot to look forward to in the future.

At the time, there were not any stand-alone pastry shops in India, except maybe with the exception of one or two. I wanted to bring that culture to India and set up Le 15, which had been my dream.

Now that you've mastered the art of baking, what's next?

I like to joke and say world domination! I want to do many things professionally but personally I would like to learn a new musical instrument and climb Mt. Fuji.

Can you tell us something that people may not know about baking?

Most people are afraid of baking because it is so precise but that actually makes it easier to learn since you just have to follow a recipe.

What's one piece of advice you'd give to budding home chefs?

Be patient and find your niche.