T+L Tastemakers: Pooja Dhingra – Pastry Chef of the Year

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Pooja Dhingra started her career with the sweet dream of running a French pastry shop in India. After twelve years in business, Le15’s ‘macaroon lady’ delivers premium cakes to Mumbai, as well as cake mixes, cookies and merchandise all over India. Author of four cookbooks and host of a podcast, Dhingra is our Pastry Chef of the Year and one of the cover stars. She talks to our editor about India’s growing bakery scene and her favorite places for desserts. By Rashima Nagpal

Pooja Dhingra talks to T+L about Le15 and what’s next

What does pastry represent for you?

Pastry is for me joy and comfort. I truly believe that a slice of cake, a bite of cookie or a macaroon makes everything better.

What was the pastry scene like in India when you started with Le15? What has changed since?

The pastry scene was very different 12 years ago. There were hardly any standalone patisseries and you had to go to a five star hotel to get good quality desserts. Ingredients were hard to come by, equipment wasn’t as readily available, and you didn’t see as many women in the professional kitchen. I wanted to change all that. Today, there are great stand-alone stores and incredibly talented chefs.

What is your favorite Le15 macaron?

Passion fruit, always!

What kind of sweet foods did you grow up eating?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I grew up with a sweet tooth! I come from a family that loves baking and it was actually my mum’s dream to go to Le Cordon Bleu. My mom made the best cheesecakes, mousses and brownies at home and I grew up eating them.

Which restaurants in India would you recommend for their desserts?

There are so many! I’m a big fan of Indian Accent desserts in Delhi and O Pedro in Mumbai. I also love the chocolate bars at Ether Chocolate, the cakes at Miam Patisserie and the desserts at Vanilla Miel.

Outside of India, what destinations have impressed you with their dessert scene?

While I lived in Paris and am still in awe of everything, the pastry scene in Tokyo was super awesome.

What’s next for Pooja Dhingra and Le15?

More experiences and products that help people experience joy and happiness.

Related: The Sweet Life of Pooja Dhingra

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