Mumbai: Celebrate Christmas parties with these people's numbers on your speed dial
Hosting friends this season? Here are names you must have on speed dial
Mirella Fiore, 35, and Kaveer Shahani, 48
Superpower: Make to-die-for Tiramisu
It's no surprise that four different food critics from leading publications and social media have independently voted Mirella Fiore's tiramisu as the best in the city. Prepared to perfection from her great-grandmother's recipe book all the way from a Sicilian kitchen, it's a sweet concoction that lingers in taste and memory long after the last bite.
Mirella Fiore and Kaveer Shahani
Her menu also showcases other legendary Italian sweet treats. Wow your guests with baci di dama (hazelnut kisses), pastine di mandorla (almond biscuits), and baba al rhum (rum-soaked sponge) made in original Italian home style. Fiore's love for desserts was born in the kitchen from her two grandmothers, Nives in Padua and her namesake Mirella in Sicily.
As they whisked, whipped and created the most glorious confectioneries and baked delicacies, the lingering aroma remains etched in her memory to this day. She travelled to Mumbai soon after, and a chance meeting with Kaveer Shahani, a Mumbai-bred entrepreneur of varied interests led to the inception of Dolcemi. The high quality of ingredients, mostly imported, and her secret recipes make Dolcemi Desserts a must-have on any sophisticated party menu.
You Pay: Minimum orders start at Rs 1,000
Remember: Most of their desserts require immediate consumption since they are made with the freshest ingredients without preservatives. Tea cakes and biscuits will hold for longer and are perfect for gifting.
Nazneen Gamadia, 52
Superpower: Executes themed flowers and exotic decorations
Nazneen Gamadia followed in her mum's footsteps and helped dress some of the best shop windows along with her trademark Christmas decorations in most five-star hotels in the city. A visual merchandiser and store designer trained in Los Angeles, she also specialises in exquisite floral decorations.
Should you be hosting a party at home, Gamadia can create a stunning centrepiece using the choicest flowers, both seasonal and exotic, that match your home décor to elaborate arrangements in your own vases. A famous one for theme parties, her props can come in handy for that retro night or Spanish flamenco vibe. She stocks everything from birdcages to lanterns. For Christmas, she can transform your home into a fairytale setting, replete with a gorgeous tree and unusual buntings.
You Pay: Rs 2,000+ for a bouquet
Remember: She needs a day's notice.
Robin Hood Army
Superpower: Puts food wastage to an end
With large-scale parties, there is always the chance that there are leftovers, sometimes enough to feed another party. So, what do you? Just call The Robin Hood Army, an NGO that works to get surplus food from restaurants and homes across to less fortunate people. Their band of volunteers are largely students and young working professionals.
Robin Hood Army
The lesser fortunate sections they help include homeless families, night shelters, orphanages, and patients from public hospitals. Each local chapter works within the neighbourhood. The idea is to create self-sustained chapters that will look after their local community. Although the bulk of the food comes from restaurants, you can also pitch in by offering your party treats in the season of joy.
You Pay: It's a free service
Remember: They prefer non-perishable items and dry food like breads and savoury snacks to prevent spoilage. They need a day's notice as it's volunteer driven.
Harsh Shodhan, 44
Superpower: Caters vegetarian gourmet dishes
Whilst the city is brimming with caterers who can whip up everything from gluten-free cakes to elaborate Cordon Bleu-inspired menus, most seasoned partygoers are weary of the usual suspects on a party menu right from the Mediterranean platter to the chocolate mousse. Harsh Shodhan, a businessman-turned-chef who runs Gourmet Kitchen and Studio, offers more.
His carefully thought-out menus might sound gimmicky with dishes like deconstructed dum aloo, but are actually a huge hit. He offers unusual choices such as mungdaal wafflewich (a waffle 'sandwich' made of moongdal), roasted tomato pate with basil crumble and chhole mousse on crisps.
Shodhan's aim has been to make sure that vegetarians get to savour dishes from international cuisines while experimenting with new tastes. The menu is a vegetarian's delight, and we hear that meat-eaters succumb regularly to his veg culinary charm.
You Pay: Rs 1,200-Rs 1,800 per head
Keep In Mind : He needs a lead-time of 24-48 hours depending on the size and scale of the party and his availability.
Yohaan Datoobhai, 37
Superpower: Makes artisanal ice-cream
Started in 2014 by chef Kunali Chandaria-Dattoobhai and her husband Yohaan Dattoobhai, Sucres Des Terres is an artisanal ice-creamery, where every flavour is made in small batches and each jar is hand-packed. Sucres Des Terres' unique flavours are made using fresh ingredients.
Fans rave about the salted caramel, dark chocolate and candied ginger and seasonal strawberries and sour cream. Each flavour is exclusive, but certain elements characterise all of them — pure indulgence with a dense, soft texture and delectable flavours. None of that commercial stuff here. Each batch is hand-packed in small and limited quantities to ensure the best in luxury desserts.
Dattoobhai has catered for exclusive house parties of 20 people to a wedding in Udaipur for a 1,000 so he can scale his treats to the size you require. Although not cheap (a 500 ml tub starts at around R750), you know it's premium milk, freshest fruits and the best cocoa that goes into every lick or bite.
You Pay: Rs 750+ for 500 ml tub
Remember: No advance notice required here, and you can have your ice-cream, provided stocks last.
Denzil Clement, 32
Superpower: Makes caricature memories in a matter of minutes
A chef-turned-caricature artist, Denzil Clement's story bears a mention. Whilst working as a chef on a cruise liner, he was randomly sketching tourists at a European port where his ship had docked. When a passerby saw his sketch, he was so impressed that he assumed he was a professional and pressed a five Euro note in his palm.
Within minutes, a crowd gathered around and Clement was showered with money as people implored him for a sketch. Realising his true calling was art and not artichokes, he ditched the skillet for the sketchboard and is today in demand among celebrities and film stars.
His USP is that he can churn out a coloured caricature in as little as three minutes - a record many guests or hosts are sceptical about but believe once they see his talent in motion. Clement's caricatures will provide an enduring memory of the good time they had long after the alcohol wears off! It goes without saying that he is perfect for kiddie parties, too.
You Pay: Rs 8,000 for two hours and 20 caricatures
Remember: He requires two weeks' notice, but is happy to oblige on short notice.
Gaurish Rangnekar, 32
Superpower: Sets up an on-the-go bar
With space at a premium in Mumbai, it's hard to allocate a dedicated section at home to a bar. So when you are trying to throw a boozy party but don't want guests to fix their drinks over the kitchen counter, call up Gaurish Rangnekar.
Armed with a wine certification course from the Cape Wine Academy in Johannesburg and a Master Mixology course from the New York Bartending School, he can hop across with his mobile bar and trained bartenders to ensure that guests can enjoy their favourite tipple in style. Identifying a gap in the home party segment, Rangnekar imported special portable bars that can be carried around or wheeled like a large suitcase.
He trains the bartenders, who are sporting enough to dress up in themed costumes (their own) depending on the theme of your party should you be so inclined. For 50 guests you get one full-fledged bar, two mixologists, complete glassware, bartender equipment, straws, tissues, stirrers and coasters.
You Pay: Rs 7,500 for the entire night
Remember: You need to supply the booze and leave the rest to him.
Cabrino Fernandes, 49
Superpower: Sings a song for all ages
Soft-spoken in person but a wizard behind the keyboards, Cabrino Fernandes is the man to call if you want your guests to dance the night away. Renowned as a music teacher in one of Mumbai's prestigious schools, he transforms from professor to showman at night. Multi-talented Fernandes can play the guitar and belt out those hits till the wee hours.
He also has a two-piece ensemble to accompany him or if you want to pull out all stops, an entire band as well. His repertoire includes retro hits as well as the latest chart toppers so no matter what age group you invite, he will have a song for them.
You Pay: Rs 23,000 for a four-person band
Remember: He needs a week's notice.
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