Food saves lives – and we hit a jackpot if the food we consume is clean, nutritious and tasty! The fifth World Food Safety Day (WFSD) being celebrated today, on 7 June 2023, like previous years, aims to once again draw attention to food standards. Food standards help us to ensure what we eat is safe. Along these lines WFSD inspires action to help prevent, detect and manage foodborne risks, contributing to food security, human health, economic prosperity, agricultural production, and so on.
On this day, it is but appropriate that I, Poonam Sinha, on behalf of Team SheAtWork engage in conversation with someone who caters to the gastronomical needs of the society. Her ‘goodies’ are a perfect blend of healthy and tasty! Today, here with us in conversation, is Nabanita Mukerjee, Founder of “Home Goodies”.
Quote – “Maintaining hygiene and absolute cleanliness is non-negotiable and of utmost importance in the food business.”
Ques. What inspired you to embark on this gastronomically delightful journey?
Ans. My inspiration on this gastronomical journey is definitely my mother, who was exceptionally talented at cooking, my husband who encouraged me to bake, and my child who really appreciate and is my biggest critic for everything that I make or bake. In fact, my in-laws have played a pivotal role in helping me perfect my recipes with their honest feedback.
It was in 2013 that I quit my full-time Public Relations job to learn how to manage a child, my dreams, and my home. I took some time off to figure things out. In the meantime, my husband observed my enthusiasm for cooking and encouraged me to bake. Besides, he also enjoys relishing baked desserts -so it was a win-win for both, I guess. It was then that I picked up my first convection microwave and started experimenting. I found immense happiness in baking and treating everyone around me.
My love for baking and cooking has only increased since then with each passing day. I must also mention the trust, support, and encouragement that I received from my friends on this journey.
Right from hosting and being sold out in my first baked goods exhibition at home to catering to orders my network of friends, colleagues and acquaintances have played a huge role.
Ques. Did you face any challenges while setting up your business?
Ans. As a baker or in any creative field the biggest challenge to start a business is to be consistent with your products and controlling the urge to experiment with every bake. Atleast for me, that was my biggest challenge to overcome. Since I enjoy baking or cooking a lot I have this constant urge to keep innovating with ingredients and techniques to create may be a new recipe or a new process/way of doing something. Now that can indeed be extremely stressful, especially if you have a bulk order to cater to. It is with great difficulty, that I have managed to keep my order days and recipe experimenting days separate. I believe, that customers pay for the consistent taste of your food!
Ques. What are the appropriate food safety measures that should be adopted by businesses?
Maintaining hygiene and absolute cleanliness is non-negotiable and of utmost importance in the food business. Using high-quality raw materials and educating your customer about the ingredients that are going into the product is imperative, according to me. I also got my FSSAI registration done in 2020 and as a home-baker, I insist that my fellow bakers should also get it done. The FSSAI registration gives peace of mind to customers and also makes us more responsible & committed to our business.
Ques. Where do you see yourself five years down the line?
Ans. I have been baking professionally for close to 6 years now. However, it started off as my moonlighting endeavour. My full-time baking experience has been since 2021 and honestly it’s the most gratified I have ever felt working. Besides the fact that I would love to do this till time, health and resources permit, I also aspire to build my own quaint café in Pune and then maybe a few more. I would also like to publish my recipe book with all the experiments that I have done and noted. I believe in taking one step at a time and calculated ones as well – so, I plan to continue doing what I am currently engaged with for a few more years, before I take my next step.
Ques. Any tips for women aspiring to follow in your footsteps?
Ans. The most important tip that I would surely like to give is that women aspirants should never adopt haste. I have observed that nowadays people seem to be in a hurry to achieve everything that they aspire for in a short period of time. However, I think the game is not about the pace but more about consistency which helps you achieve accuracy. Even though it might take you longer, but it surely will make you the best at what you do!