A chef who opens a new artisinal patisserie in this eastern suburb has been stealthily changing his clientele’s palates for nearly a decade. Will the experiments work?
A ride on the Metro brings us from Versova to Ghatkopar in 20 minutes. Another 10 minutes in a rickshaw and we are at Chembur — it’s a journey that would have taken over an hour two years ago.
Guests try chocolate macaroons at Toshin’s launch party on last Wednesday. (Right) Toshin Shetty will offer macaroons, chocolates,and desserts at the outlet
That an artisinal patisserie is opening up on the first floor of Ivy Banquets, whose address according to the Internet stands on the blurred line between Chembur and Ghatkopar East, makes us wonder what else has changed.
The Empress (Rs 250) is inspired by the Pina Colada
Starting next week, Toshin Shetty, a Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef, will offer macaroons, chocolate pralines, and luxury desserts desserts and cookies to residents of this belt, traditionally inhabited by the vegetarian communities of Gujaratis and Marwadis. While the meat-eating Sindhis and Maharastrians also form a large percentage of locals, up until 2009, when R-City mall opened on LBS Marg, the most popular meals were found in the khau gallis.
Toshin Shetty. Pics/Sharad Vegda
Gini dosas (with a filling of sautéed vegetables) and the black pav bhaji (made with pepper) ruled the roost five years ago. With stiff competition coming from mid-level eateries such as Achija (your typical fast-food restaurant), we enter Toshin, (the chef’s eponymous patisserie) to understand how the 25-year-old will pitch the praline against the malai kulfi.
Inheritance of revolution
One wall of the 250 sq ft outlet has deep shelves in matt black paint, with fairy lights lending it a warm glow. A wall opposite carries Toshin’s name embossed in a continuous pattern. A white-coloured counter, with tasteful holders will tempt walk-ins with baked products. We mention that Ghatkopar (or Chembur, if you prefer) is not a safe choice for the patisserie. After all, even Le 15 Patisserie and La Folie, which have been catering to Mumbai’s sweet tooth since 2010 and 2014 respectively, have only strayed as far from Kala Ghoda as the western suburbs.
Toshin, however, is at ease with his choice. He is following in his father and grandfather’s footsteps of pioneering change. “With the Eastern Express Freeway connecting Powai to Ballard Estate, the Santacruz Chembur Linkway bringing BKC closer, all roads lead to Ghatkopar and Chembur,” he quips. Toshin, whose family has lived in Chembur for 70 years, believes a good product is all that matters to draw attention.
He runs a careful hand through his gelled hair — its styled in a pompadour, with a few strands having escaped the cut and straying on to his left cheek. “This [the patisserie, not the haircut] has been a project in progress for eight years,” he says.
Seventy years ago, Toshin’s grandfather, Muddana Shetty, was the first one to open a udipi restaurant Welcome and seafood restaurant Ankur at Fort. In 1958, he brought New Welcome to Ghatkopar. He also opened a few udipis in the eastern suburb, bringing south Indian staples, dosa and idli to a palate reigned by home-cooked food. When he came of age, Toshin’s father Kishore joined Muddana, and took over the business.
In 2001, Kishore took the road lesser travelled and set up Ivy, a fine-dining restaurant that served Mangalorean and Goan fare, along with north Indian, Mughlai and Oriental. The next year, he inaugurated a banquet hall. “People thought I had lost it. I was attempting to set up a fine-dining restaurant, that too on the third floor. I was working against the tide. But I was confident of my vision then, and we know our direction now,” says Kishore standing by Toshin.
“If you talk about the economy of the eastern suburbs, customers here are silent spenders. Today, they are well-travelled, their palates have evolved as have their spending habits,” says Kishore, who began to train his son since he was in class 7.
During vacations, Toshin would help out in the kitchen and dabble in other departments. “By the time I was 16, I was managing the kitchen and issuing orders to line chefs,” he says. When he had time to spare, he would experiment with cheese cakes and brownies, under the tutelage of the in-house baker at Ivy, which introduced a bakery section — equipped with a gas oven — in 2006.
Having enrolled in a four-year culinary degree at Aurangabad Institute of Hotel Management, Toshin would return to his father’s hotel for internships. In 2008, he introduced his first creation, a chocolate cake with hazelnut ganache, on the menu. It remains a bestseller. Egged on by its success, the father-son duo decided to open a high-end patisserie, though it would require at least one of them to up their skills. Le Cordon Bleu, London, happened in 2011. And, Toshin had a plan that is as genius as it is stealthy.
“Since 2006, we have been introducing our clients to world-class desserts made with the finest ingredients. So, if anyone tells us that this won’t work in the eastern suburbs, our clients will prove otherwise,” smiles Toshin.
The desserts use couverture chocolate, a high-quality chocolate that contains extra cocoa butter. Butter cream and fruit pulp at the Ivy bakery (equipped with a walk-in cold storage, ice-cream makers and convention ovens) comes from France, cocoa come from equatorial regions. And the vanilla is bought from his uncle’s plantation in Kerala, along with honey and coconut.
“Our clientele is used to finer servings, and our pricing is not over the top,” he adds. While a box of nine artisinal chocolate pralines cost Rs 600, a box of 16 costs Rs 1,050. Desserts will range between Rs 225 and Rs 250.
While Toshin and Kishore may say that they have prepared Ghatkopar for fine dining, they are certainly not the first to have chartered this territory.
Having opened at the suburb’s biggest mall, Indigo Deli’s Ghatkopar branch has been a viable venture for deGustibus Hospitality since 2013. “Over the years, diners have been trying new cuisines and different gourmet food and desserts,” says Anurag Katriar, director, deGustibus Hospitality. That rentals are comparatively low here, compared to the western suburbs, helps. “Over the past three years, we’ve seen encouraging growth in the catchments of Mulund, Powai, Bhandup and Ghatkopar,” he adds.
The happy ending, however, is not for all.
Moshe’s, a Mediterranean deli, was set up at a mall three years ago, but pulled down shutters five months ago. The crowds didn’t want to spend, it is believed, and experimenting with a wider vegetarian list didnt help.
Aditya Gupta’s Rolling Pin has a similar story to tell. His flagship eatery (also in R-City Mall) opened in 2013. “This year, our sales dropped by 40 per cent as there was a shift in the consuming patterns of the patrons,” says Gupta, who closed the boulangerie, chocolaterie and patisserie in August. The average bill for two at Moshe’s would amount to R1,200 while a coffee and light snack pick at Rolling Pin would cost you R600-800. Indigo’s rates at Rs 2,000 — Rs 2,500 is much higher, however. Perhaps, it’s the snob value attached to Indigo allows diners to spend more.
For Parthesh Patel, co-founder of La Folie, who will open a Bandra outlet after the Kala Ghoda flagship store, Toshin’s experiment could be the survey he feels they haven’t done yet. “The road connectivity will help, though for us, the demographic of the client is different and tastes are not elevated to value finer products.”
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