They say old habits die hard. When Vinoshnee Shankar started her pastry school at Vazhakkala, Kochi in 2011, she realised it. The response was feeble initially because people were not ready to accept the concept of pastry studies. In Kerala, traditional bakeries as well as Indian sweets rule the roost.So the concept of pastry is still in nascent stage.
“About 90 percent of the bakeries in Kerala are following the traditional menu. Some are bakeries cum restaurant. But now people have started to relish pastries and the trend is picking up,” says Vinoshnee Shankar, Chief Facilitator of De’ Pastry School.
She is proud to add that De’ Pastry School could contribute a host of talented pastry chefs to the industry. Six batches have completed the pastry course programme in her school so far.
According to Vinoshnee, the traditional bakeries here are not willing to improvise. “They do not care for giving new things to customers. But some new outlets have introduced exclusive cake shops and designer cakes as well,” she observes, and adds that our concept of pastry begins in black forest and ends in another variety of cake.
“People should study pastry as a professional course. We have students who have bakeries and they want to experiment in pastries as well,” says Vinoshnee, who was born and brought up in Malaysia.
The school has courses of three months certificate programme and six months diploma course. The diploma course is a job-oriented programme. The ISI certified institution is among the top five pastry schools in India. Students have been given industrial training in Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn and Le Meridien.
“Syllabus includes baking science, bakers calculation, nutrition, kitchen safety and food safety. There are varieties of pastries starting from basic teacakes to French pastry. My area is French pastry where one can show skills,” she explains.
Vinoshnee has plans to promote the school in African countries as she receives enquiries from there. “We have enquiries from Myanmar and Bangladesh as well.”
In Malaysia, girls are usually trained in baking by their parents at an early age. So it piqued her interest. She completed a six-month pastry diploma programme during the recess after completing her higher secondary school. Though Vinoshnee completed Optometry course later, she took pastry industry as her career after working in a charity hospital for one year.
To the aspiring pastry chefs, Vinoshnee advises that they should train themselves properly. “Our students include housewives and people from other professions. They want to try out their skills in pastry making. But we give priority to students who want to take this as their career,” she adds.
She has plans to take pastry classes in cities like Chennai, Coimbatore and Pune, as there are invitations for her.
Vinoshnee is well supported by her Malayalee spouse RS Ezhuthachan and three sons in her efforts to popularise pastry studies in the State.