Maria J is a Bangalore based baker and cake decorator.
I am hugely motivated by the little things that indicate how happy the client is with their cake. The squeal of joy or wonder when they see their cake and this is irrespective of adult or child, the look of pure culinary joy when they taste what we make, the heartfelt feelings they share once the party is over especially the ones that are voluntarily shared, says Maria.
We at Bangalore Insider had an opportunity to have an interview with Maria. Here are the excerpts.
Tell us about yourself, your previous jobs/ventures? What were you doing before choosing this field?
As a child, I would hover around the table with my brothers as our mom went about mixing the batter for her banana cake and we would invariably end up squabbling over who would get to lick the bowl clean once the batter went into the oven. Growing up, I was crazy about cooking and baking and would collect every possible recipe from every magazine or book I came across and took great pride in accumulating them into my personal file. Although I started cooking when I was 13 years old, baking happened to me only after I got married, encouraged by my husband who loves his food and is crazy about all things sweet.
I’d been going on with life as usual, going to work, enjoying my family and my adorable doggies … just content with everything in general, when I got to make my first frosted cake as a gift for the birthday party of a friend’s daughter. The response it received just blew me away and absolutely boosted my confidence in my baking ability. Until then, I’d been just baking occasionally for home. Although I’d religiously follow every cake show on TV and binge-watch video after video on YouTube, I’d never gone all out and given it a try until then. It gained more traction when a cake I took to the office one day became an instant favourite among my colleagues and the orders began to come in from them, their friends and family members.
I’d been working with HR Operations at Barclays Bank during the time. As the orders increased, it soon became increasingly difficult for me to juggle my work and cake orders at the same time. At the crossroads, my husband encouraged me to go ahead full steam and follow my heart. I quit my job and have been baking full time since. Two years ago, we moved back to Bangalore from Chennai and here I have also started conducting baking workshops along with regular cake orders.
What motivates you?
As a baker, I am hugely motivated by the little things that indicate how happy the client is with their cake. The squeal of joy or wonder when they see their cake and this is irrespective of adult or child, the look of pure culinary joy when they taste what we make, the heartfelt feelings they share once the party is over especially the ones that are voluntarily shared … these are some of the things that make me feel blessed to be one of the instruments that made it happen in the grand scheme of things. We also have several bakers groups consisting of strong, selfless, sharing and caring women who keep encouraging and motivating each other. That helps a lot in the daily routine of things.
How do you plan to stay ahead of your competitors?
I’m not worried about competitors as much because I believe that each have their own market to capture, retain and explore further. As long as we are consistent with the quality of output, there cannot be a dearth of opportunity. It is, however, more important to be focussed on our skills, to be aware of the new trends, new flavours etc and to be willing to constantly learn and upskill ourselves and explore new avenues.
If not the current profession, what would you have been?
A few years ago, I never imagined that I would be baking full time. Now, I cannot imagine doing anything else.
Were your parents supportive of what you are doing? What impact have they had on your life?
Absolutely!!! Both, my parents and my in-laws, are very proud of what I do and keep encouraging me to do even better. My Dad was my biggest fan. He passed away last year, and it is his memory that keeps me going when I feel overwhelmed. My mom is constantly on the lookout for baking related tools and ingredients and ensures she gets them to me as much as she can whenever she visits. My entire family – mine and my husband’s is a huge support system for me.
What are your plans for the next 2 years?
After moving to Bengaluru, I decided to face my fears and take the plunge to conduct workshops. It started with workshops on basic baking. I am working towards doing better in that space and exploring more opportunities to share knowledge. I am also working towards specializing in wedding cakes because I feel the whole process is so different from cakes at other occasions. It’s like weaving a dream together, being a part of the entire design process, taking inspiration from the preferences of the bride and groom, bits and pieces from their wedding plans, their choices, their attire … It’s magical to see it all come together in a final culmination.
What does a typical day off from work consist of for you?
My time off is spent cooking up and experimenting with new dishes in my kitchen, binge-watching baking videos and spending time with hubby and my doggies.
Any regrets till now? If yes, will you like to share it with our readers?
Absolutely no regrets
If you were given a choice of meeting any person you want, who will be that person?
In the baking world, I’d love to meet Ron Ben-Israel
Any message that you want to send to your readers?
That’s quite an open-ended question. Perhaps you could narrow it down for me
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