When Floyd Pereira packed his bags and left his Goan village to come to Mumbai over a decade ago, he planned to reach the city and then sail away from one of its harbours. But destiny blew him off course, and his baking prowess gifted him a thriving business that turned his life around -- he met his wife, and turned vegetarian
Everyone comes to Mumbai with a dream. Floyd Pereira did too, over a decade ago. When he left his home in Madgaon (Goa) though, the dream was to follow his older brother's footsteps and become a seaman, "to escape the closeness of my hometown, to get paid and to satisfy my yen for seeing faraway places," he says. But this wasn't to be.
Floyd Pereira opened Dark Temptations in the year 2000 in a 110 square
foot room at Chira Bazaar. Pic/Bipin Kokate
Since none of the nautical opportunities that came his way held much appeal, Pereira went back to a career he was familiar with. Having worked as a steward and captain in Goan hotels, he used what little savings he had to rent a 110 square foot room at Chira Bazaar, and started baking cakes. "This was in 2000, when I was paying Rs 5,000 as rent every month," Pereira tells us, seated at an organised desk in his air-conditioned office adjacent to the newly-opened second branch of his bakery, Dark Temptations, at Dhobi Talao.
"The fact that I was a stranger in this city made it very hard to get a loan," he says. Budget constraints meant he hired inexperienced people and each day's earning funded the next day's supplies. Though eggless cakes were hot-sellers because of the large number of vegetarians in the area, Pereira admits, "We rarely sold over three or four kilos of cake in a day back then and often had to throw cakes away because I wouldn't sell cakes that weren't fresh."
Nor could he afford to advertise. "I owe the expansion of my business entirely to the testimonials of satisfied customers," he says. The Chira Bazaar destination was therefore where the Goan gentleman built a reputation as a skilled baker, but it was more than that -- this was also where Pereira met Janvi, a 100 per cent pure vegetarian Gujarati girl who lived in the area's jewellery district.
The couple dated for almost three years and finally tied the knot six years ago, though their families had qualms. "Janvi had been very clear about the fact that she would never sample anything non-vegetarian," says Pereira, once a Goan fish-curry buff and now a pure vegetarian himself, smiling as he fleetingly admits that, at the time, her assertion had momentarily made him think.
It being Navratri, Janvi's not around to tell us her side of the story. She's visiting family in Ahmedabad -- family that "loves (him) now," Pereira assures us, as he leads us to the store next door. Plastic chocolate globules drip off the ceiling and the bar that is positioned on one side of the immaculate eatery that opened its doors a fortnight ago. An attendant pops out of the kitchen and places a giant Barbie doll cake atop the counter, as customers stream in and out, some choosing to occupy the sole table in one corner as they snack, others content buying takeaways.
Pure vegetarian samosas, fully-loaded mini pizzas and assorted veggie sandwiches are stocked above giant packs of freshly prepared potato chips on one side. As he hands us a deliciously light and creamy chocolate mousse to sample (Rs 50), Pereira tells us that his hottest sellers are now the Ferrero Rocher Cake (Rs 900 per kg, Rs 1,000 for the eggless version), Tiramisu Gateau (Rs 650 per kg, Rs 700 per kg for the eggless version) and the old classic Chocolate Vanilla cake "that never goes out of fashion" (Rs 500 per kg, Rs 550 per kg for the eggless version).
"As the bulk of my clientele comprises Walkeshwar and Napeansea Road Gujarati and Jain families, we plan to expand the snacks' menu," he says, but a huge variety of eggless home-made chocolates are also available here. Assorted chocolate-coated nuts, fruit and nut chocolates and chocolates filled with marzipan cost Rs 1,500 per kg, while those filled with coffee-cream or praline cost Rs 1,400 per kg and plain milk chocolate or plain bitter chocolate costs Rs 1,300 per kg.
Dark Temptations is located at 24/30 Federation House, opposite Champion Sports and Metro cinema, AP Marg, Dhobi Talao
Call: 22050069 or 22050079 (open through the week, 9.30am to 9.30pm)