|Profession(s)||• Pastry chef
|Famous For||Opening India's first macaron store named 'Le15 Patisserie' in Mumbai in 2010.
|Physical Stats & More|
|Height (approx.)||in centimeters- 170 cm
in meters- 1.70 m
in feet & inches- 5’ 7”
|Weight (approx.)||in kilograms- 80 kg
in pounds- 176.37 lbs
|Awards, Honours, Achievements||• Selected by Forbes India for their ‘30 Under 30’ achievers list in 2014
• Selected for the Forbes 30 under 30 Asia list.
• She is seen in national dailies for not just baking but also as a successful business women.
|Date of Birth||5 August 1986 (Tuesday)|
|Age (as of 2021)||35 Years|
|School||Bombay Scottish School, Mumbai|
|College/University||• Studied commerce in Jai Hind College, Mumbai
• Did a Hospitality and Management course at the César Ritz school in Le Bouveret, Switzerland (2004)
|Educational Qualification||B.A in Hospitality and Management Outlook Business|
|Food Habit||Non-Vegetarian Pooja Dhingra-Instagram|
|Relationships & More|
|Parents||Father- Jaikishan Dhingra (Chef)
Mother- Seemaa Dhingra (Therapist & Healer)
|Siblings||Brother- Vaarun Dhingra (Restaurateur)
Some Lesser Known Facts About Pooja Dhingra
- Pooja Dhingra who is known as the ‘Macaron Queen of India’ comes from a family that has been into cooking since the start. Her father and brother are the owners of a restaurant. Her father used to invest in various restaurants in Mumbai and her brother runs his own restaurant.
- When Pooja was a child, she learnt baking from her Bua (aunt). Her aunt used to keep her busy with baking on Sundays as Pooja was someone who would get bored very easily. The first thing she baked was brownies. She was extremely excited to see the brownies coming out of the oven. At that time, she learnt that even with simple ingredients, something creative can be made. Since her childhood, she has been a big fan of chocolate.
- After completing her commerce studies, she enrolled in a law college. She attended the classes for two weeks there and felt really bored seeing the books. Soon, she realized that her interest was in hospitality and not in law.
- She told her parents that she wanted to study hospitality. Her parents supported her and she went for further studies in Switzerland in 2004. Her brother was in the same college as her. After completing her graduation, she went to Le Cordon Bleu school in Paris in 2008 where she learned how to bake French pastries. There, she tasted macarons for the first time at a party thrown by her friend. She was really mesmerized by the flavour of macarons. She wanted to bring the same taste to India as well.
- Sharing her teachings from Switzerland and Paris, she said in an interview,
During my first year, I interned at a small family-run hotel (Villa Toscane). I was 18, had never been away from home alone and was doing the amount of work that usually six or seven people would typically do in India. Every morning, I would serve breakfast to dozens of people, wash up and start over again. I didn’t know a word of French and my boss knew no English. It was a nightmare. But by the time I was interning at a five-star hotel (Trois Couronne) in the final year, I had grown a lot more confident. I opted for housekeeping and my job involved changing some 60 beds and cleaning toilets. At some point, they recognised what I was doing and towards the end of my internship, I was going for meetings with my general manager and instructing people much senior to me.”
- In 2010, she returned to India and started working on the recipes of the macaron. Macarons at that time were not so popular in India. She always thought to herself that what was the reason behind having no macarons in India. She realized that her career in India would bloom only if she makes macarons. In an interview, she said,
This might sound dramatic, but I realised that yes, this is what I want to do, I want to go back to India and take macarons with me. This was my mission.”
- After returning, she tried making the recipes many times but, she failed because she was working with local Indian ingredients and the climate in India was more humid than in Paris, but once she was ready with the recipe, she opened her first macaron restaurant in Mumbai. She named the restaurant Le 15 Patisserie. Talking about the name of the cafe, she said that the name has been kept because she was living in the 15th Arrondissement in Paris.
- Her father invested in her business as he trusted her and had faith that she would excel.
- As soon as Dhingra started selling macarons, the small cakes filled with cream became famous and her restaurant started gaining fame.
- When she started the business, she was 23 and people did not take her very seriously. She faced a lot of issues when she wanted to rent a place or buy a machine. Everyone told her that they wanted to talk to her father or husband or brother. In an interview, sharing her experience, she said,
Being a young girl in a male-dominated industry was not easy. Even finding suppliers or real estate agents that wanted to work with me was tough. As the years have gone by the challenges keep changing – from day to day operations to scaling a business. My education in Switzerland, and working in hotels there, gave me a good idea of what working in hospitality would be like, but dealing with the bureaucracy is extremely difficult when starting a business in India.”
- Initially, she started the restaurant with just two chefs and now she has a staff of more than 100 chefs. Currently, the cafe has three outlets in Good Earth, Lower Parel; Palladium Mall.
- She wrote two books ‘The big book of treats’ that became the best seller in India and the other is ‘The Wholesome Kitchen’.
- After she became successful, some people tried to copy her recipes. In an interview, stating about such people she said,
People can only copy what you have done, no-one can copy your ideas and vision. So I like it [the competition], it keeps me on my feet, and we always push our boundaries so that we can always stay a step ahead.”
- Pooja loves to travel and she believes that travelling is the best source of becoming creative. She takes out time from her busy schedule and travels and keeps herself updated with the current trends in the industry. In an interview, she shared where she gets her thoughts from, she said,
I go to a new country, taste different things; I try some new flavors and then I think about how I can bring this back in my ecosystem.”
- She believes that as social media platforms are growing, the sale of their products is also increasing. When she started the business, the word of mouth marketing was slow but now it is expanding due to social media. She is really active on social media.
- During the lockdown in 2020, Pooja closed her cafe as she was unable to meet the expenses due to the Covid-19 crisis. She opened a new outlet in Palladium Mall, Lower Parel.
- She also started making podcasts with the name ‘NoSugarCoat with Pooja’. In these podcasts, she talked to friends and celebrities and got to know about their understanding of entrepreneurship. She also talked about their life journies and the struggles they had faced. Some of the celebrities became a part of Pooja`s podcast. Some of them include Rhea Kapoor (Sonam Kapoor`s sister), Masaba Gupta, Pablo Naranjo Agular (Chef) etc.
- She started making her DIY cake mixes, cookies, hot chocolate mix and Le 15 merch so that people can bake them at home. She also wrote a cookbook ‘Coming Home’ during the lockdown.
- In an interview, she shared her feelings about the title ‘Queen of Macarons’ given to her. She said,
I have no idea! I think it was a journalist who spoke to me five or six years ago, and who used the term, and then BBC and CNN and other media outlets started using it, and it just stuck. And of course, I didn’t fight it. When someone calls you a queen, you just take it.
- On the Twitter handle, she keeps posting about her new baked cakes and the events happening in her life.
- She is friends with some of the celebrities like Sonam Kapoor, Rhea Kapoor, Masaba Gupta, Alia Bhatt, etc. She bakes cakes, cookies and macarons for these celebrities on any of their occasions. She attended Sonam Kapoor`s wedding as well.
- She does advertisements for many brands like Kwality Wall`s, Hellmann’s Mayonnaise, Surf Excel, Oreo, etc.
- She loves to watch K-dramas.
- In 2019, she also won the Mould-Breaker Of The Year Award by Grazia Magazine.
- Giving advice to young entrepreneurs she said that they should get their finances in order and understand what they have to do with the money.