I was introduced to baking at the age of 13 when I baked my first cake ever for my grandfather’s birthday. I knew baking was an interest, but I knew for sure it was a passion, only when I failed at it. I’m the type to lose interest in something very quickly if it doesn’t go as per the plan, but with baking, any failure only made me get back in the kitchen, have another go and stay motivated to try till I succeeded at it. Fourteen years later, I am now a pastry chef, but it did not start off that way.
I graduated from law school in 2013 and began my career at a law firm. I enjoyed working but my interest in baking never took a back seat. Often the antidote to a bad day at work would be a batch of freshly baked brownies at the dinner table. However, two years into my work life, I realised being a lawyer and the corporate work culture did not excite me anymore and I yearned to do something that challenged me creatively. Since baking was a passion, I decided maybe it was time to pursue it more seriously.
The decision to quit my job came after months of convincing my family that it was the right call, research and self-doubt, but at the end of it, I knew it had to happen. Only being a hobby baker was not good enough and I needed a more technical and skilled knowledge of the science behind baking if I wanted to take it up professionally. So, at 26, I went back to school, studied baking and pastry, trained at commercial kitchens and equipped myself with a professional degree in patisserie and know-how to make it my career.
To follow your passion is a lot of hard work. I moved cities and having to start from scratch without the comforts and an established networking circle back home, was a huge challenge. Thoughts of getting back to law, to have a steady income while setting up a baking venture on the side creeped in. I ultimately decided that no half-baked attempts would cut it. I had to go all in and put in my fullest efforts to make it work. In Mumbai’s highly competitive market for bakers, to start out on my own was tough and I had to alter my expectations for an overnight success or even in the first few months. The will and enthusiasm, purely fuelled by the passion for my work (strengthened with the support of loved ones), helped me see through the initial hurdles.
Being a reserved person by nature, I was pushed to put myself out there, approach people, and constantly be on the lookout for work, collaborations and anything that would make people take notice of me. While social media is a popular platform for marketing, I found that word of mouth still remains one of the most effective ones. People who tried my products, came back for more and their recommendations to others gave me new customers and I now have a decent clientele to boast of. Yes, being my own boss and working on my own timelines is very liberating, but it also means I have to push myself to work harder and stay motivated to make every day count, without having anyone else to share the blame for my shortcomings.
Yes, there are days when I wonder if all of this was worth it and I was probably better off in a regular day job, but I always remind myself why I chose this path in the first place. And yes, I am successful because I now wake up every morning to do the work I enjoy doing and I get to make someone’s day happier with that work. It is a great feeling to know there are people out there who recognize my talent and value my time and efforts. But the best of all is I never have to worry about gifting options!
Just Beat It Is the brainchild of Sudha Rao, a lawyer turned pastry chef, with a Diploma in Patisserie from the Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Science. Just Beat It is a boutique home run patisserie based in Chembur, Mumbai. Using premium quality ingredients, Just Beat It offers custom handcrafted bakes ranging from sweet and savoury to gluten free and healthy bakes. Orders for all events and occasions are undertaken.