Yesterday HT celbrated 30 years of Brittania serving up its legendary Berry pulao. A dish that is on every foodies culinary map of discovering Mumbai. And if Brittania made a homestyle Irani rice dish a lengend, the onus of giving the French Macaroon so unshakeable an identity that 2 year old children recognise it like we once identified with laddoos as children has to be laid squarely on the doorstep of Le 15, with a huge hug of thanks!
Mumbai restauranteurs are a much stronger breed than their counterparts from other cities. THey have to survive much harder challenges to survive than any other place in the world. Soaring real estate prices, cut throat compitition, people ready to copy a good idea at the drop of a hat, staff being stolen at crippling salaries once they are trained. I have been a silent sad observer of many great restaurants biting the bullet and closing down because of fomething or the other not working out despite everything being perfect. and its just gotten tougher with some of the world biggest food chains have arrived onto Mumbai shores in the last few years. This is the ever changing foodscape of Mumbai and i have watched if for 10 years as a food writer.
But ever so often a success story like Le 15 comes along. Heartening the rest of us who have chosen to create a business in this tough landscape that is the Mumbai food scene. Proving to the world that a fabulous product when backed by hard work, passion, love and grit can not just survive but Come out winning in the face of every challenge thrown its way. And Le 15, a tiny little patiserrie started by the beautiful passionate young Pooja Dhingra (who I am proud to call friend) is that sort of success story.
I met Le 15 and Pooja when it first opened. I attended a Korean cooking class there. I think Le 15 was a month old then, they only had their central kitchen. But the jaded Mumbai Palatte has been gobbling up everything they have been dishing out ever since. Soon after that, Pooja invited me to do cooking classes there and I became a regular at Le 15, arriving there twice a month, baskets of ingredients in tow to embark on some mad new culinary adventure. From Amuse Bouche to gourmet gifts from the kitchen, from Tadka workshops to cooking classes for men, from healthy cooking to boozy cooking, Pooja's given me a free hand on the classes. And I have loved every moment!
But this is not about me or my classes. This is about Pooja and Le 15. On every visit I have made to Le 15, Pooja has been there. In her office planning new and wonderful things, but more often in the kitchen hustling her chefs along and most often making macaroons or some other wild and wonderful connfection. I have watched every step of growth for Le 15, from that first strawberry and pistachio cake they did for Womens day that year (how delicious it was) to the intoxicating Cointreau Macaroons they did recently. I've been privy to the joys and the frustrations, the let downs and the exhilerations of nurturing this little baby that is Le 15. And all I can say is that its a success story thats inspiring. It brings emotion welling to the eyes and blessing to the tongue; may it grow phenomenally and continue to bring smiles to the world.
Happy Birthday Le 15!
Here are some pictures and memories!
|We learnt color identification with Le 15 Macaroons! And Pink is still our first pick out of a box!|
|Natasha is perhaps Le 15's most ardent afficionado!|
|A special Gourmet Tadka class we customised for a foodie couple from the USA|
|The He cooks Mens Cooking Class!|
|Natasha wanted an angry birds cake and Pooja was kind enough to make me marzipan in differnet colours !|
|My most memorable class - when my husband joined us to conduct a coupls cookign class. Thanks for pushing me on this one Pooj!|
|Pooja support fldgling food writers by sending in Macaroons for my exploring flavours excersise at my food writing classes.|
|My idea of an indulgent way to start my day!|