Home Chefs & Bakers are Emerging as a Strong Presence in Pune’s Food Scene

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From reservations about eating out years ago, to eating out and ordering food at home has become such routine! The recent trend, however, is shifting back to home chefs and bakers, with more and more people valuing community cuisines made by generations in their families- say a Bohri, CKP, agri, Khandeshi, to name a few.

Regional food in its true form is showcased by families from across the country who have settled in Pune over the years- dishes like Litti Chokha or a Kashmiri Yakhni– you savour the true, authentic taste when it comes from homes!

In the era of this Pandemic, it is further important, with concerns regarding hygiene and trust! With delivery systems in place, it becomes all the more convenient to order food from home-chefs. They might not be the same as chefs cooking the perfect steak, but years of experience in cooking their speciality dishes definitely sets them apart.

One such enterprise is Kitchen Cornucopia, founded around 2013 as Cloves Catering by Anuja and Parikshit Vilekar. They were amongst the first few home chefs in Pune at the time.

Anuja and Parikshit Vilekar

Anuja says, “The term Home Chefs didn’t even exist back then and it was tough explaining to prospective customers what we exactly were, as people went to “Caterers” only if they had a wedding or a large gathering at home, which required such services. At other times they went to a restaurant, but we were neither! Buying fresh produce, designing new recipes, recreating tried-and-tested recipes and heirloom recipes has always been our thing but with lack of formal training and limited investment we thought this would be the best way to make a foray into the food industry.”

Ashlesha Pathak of ‘Indulgence’ is a prominent home baker in the Pune food circuit. A Mechanical Engineer and Technical French Translator by profession, she started baking out of passion and a cause to help stray animals out of her earnings. And, her art speaks for itself.

Aslesha says, “When you order from a home baker, you are assured of high hygiene standards as the product is made in their own personal kitchen. As we do not bake too many cakes in a day, there is a definite guarantee that there will not be a lapse in maintaining hygiene. Secondly, you can customise cakes as per your requirement with a home baker. We put in all our efforts and emotions into the cake, one that echoes a client’s sentiments. Cakes by home bakers are fresh, made from scratch, with no added preservatives. Considering health-conscious trends today, more and more people are opting for home bakers.”

With pets an integral part of families, in recent years, there has been a pet-chef revolution too. Sonal Zalkikar, a Pet Chef and Canine Nutritionist, switched professions after working in IT industry for 15+ years.

Sonal Zalkikar

Founded in memory of her fur baby, Roxy, who loved home-cooked meals and treats, Petfeast was introduced to help improve a Pet’s health with home-made, holistic meals. She understands that every pet’s needs are different and started curating meals specific to individual pets.

She says, “Most people consider their pets as a crucial part of their family, and giving them that one-off piece of human dessert was okay, until it began reflecting in their health. We at Petfeast wanted you to include your pet in every celebration and that is how we came up with our pet-friendly desserts and cakes.” After all, they are family, right?

Having put forth her views about home chefs, Anuja also urges people not to turn their backs on restaurants once they reopen, as most restaurateurs are making an added effort to put in all safety and hygiene processes in place.

Until we have our regular joints back in action, we are definitely blessed with some of the best home chefs and bakers in Pune. Do you guys have a favourite chef or baker in the city? Let us know, we’d love to try them out too, Punekars!

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