Ode To Abu

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Baker Brigade - Nanditha Sashidharan & Girija Menon

This mother-daughter duo will be wo-manning a table together. Nanditha is one of the founders of HBG and her cakery is called The Sugar Hut. Girija is her cool, fun, hip and stylish mom.

Nanditha Sashidharan

I have profiled Nanditha earlier in quite some detail at the last Baker Showcase in February. There’s even a ‘must-not-miss’ YouTube video of one of her performances. A singer with a rock band, Nanditha is busy cooking up a storm while juggling her home, hearth, business and cats.

Her specials at this event probably outnumber everyone else’s! Cherry Tart, Bannofee Pie, Chocolate Cherry Tart with Lime Custard, Brown Butter Tart, Lemon Bars, Hazelnut Fudge, Millionaire’s Shortbread, Rum Truffles, and a ton of varieties in Decadent Brownies! Phew…Wait! Not done yet…at the last Showcase Nanditha spoke of her desire to practice making more French desserts and this time around, she has managed to fulfill her wish. French macarons have found their way on to her menu!

There is a lot more on offer by this hardworking & talented young woman and no amount of description or pictures would probably do her work the requisite justice. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say, so simply drop in to the event and sample the goodies from her table!

Loads of delectable nuts, toppings and berries and combinations of the same find their way into her bakes and her loyal customers swear by her exotic creations. So don’t say I didn’t warn you ahead for not being there on time to grab them while they last!

Girija Menon

When I called Girija, she was tucking into a Magnum ice cream bar and a lot of the conversation from her side was about how delicious they are! Up until now, I’d heard a lot of mixed reviews about this brand, but am curious now and almost completely sold after hearing Girija wax eloquent on them! 

This incident deserves special mention because you had to hear her to believe it! :-) What amazed me was this lady was as cool as a cucumber on the night before the Baker Showcase, while most of the other bakers were on pins and needles and a few tenterhooks as well! Her own daughter Nanditha was battling a fridge breakdown issue, but here was the mom, all ready and treating herself to icecream close to midnight! Most of us need to learn a thing or two from you, Girija, on the advantages of being organised, prepared and relaxed on the eve of a major event!

It helps that Girija has essentially 4 varieties on her menu - Bacon Bread, Gooey Brownies with Shortbread Crust, Brown Butter Apple Tart and Salty Oatmeal Cookies. Her bacon bread looks & sounds unusual and the picture was featured in a newspaper, as part of the run-up to the event. 

She even got an order and had to oblige the customer although she was busy preparing for the Showcase. After the order was despatched, her new customer calls back and requests for one more! Girija actually turned it down! Here is one lady who is clear-headed about what she can and will not do! 

Girija seems to have hit upon a brainwave by bringing the simple Chutney Sandwich to the Baker Showcase amidst all the gooey and sugary desserts and heavy savouries. Munching on these would settle the many varieties of rich flavours and tastings that people would be indulging in at the venue, besides adding a much needed respite to the tongue and palate!

Girija was a non-resident Indian for 28 years. She lived in the Gulf and returned to Chennai in 2009. She says she likes to bake just for the fun of it. Like most mothers, she began baking for her daughters’ birthday parties. Little did she know it would turn into a serious business within the family! Her last participation at the Showcase with Sara & Tasneem was a complete sell-out with her Lime Bars and Quiches being one of the most sought after items on her menu!

An interesting conversationalist, Girija is a sound support system for Nanditha and her other daughter, who lives in the USA.

Girija conducts spoken English classes in her spare time and dabbles in aromatherapy for friends and family. She is considering pursuing this with more earnestness by enrolling for a course in America later this year.

Here's wishing these ladies all the best for a smash-hit Showcase yet again and all the luck to pursue their dreams!

The Sugar Hut FB page

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