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Pooja Dingra: Sending her Macrons one city at a time!

Background:
Pooja’s earliest baking memory is of making brownies with her aunt when she was 6 years old.
However, when it came to decide what she wanted to do, she joined Law School. That lasted for exactly 2 weeks, as she realized that law wasn’t for her. She moved to Switzerland to study hospitality management at Cesar Ritz Colleges. She says “I have always been amazed at how simple ingredients like eggs, butter, flour and sugar could create something so delicious and magical. Later, in Paris, at Le Cordon Bleu, we learnt how the same ‘magic ingredients’ can be used to achieve a vast variety of treats.”
When she returned, she knew that she wanted to recreate a piece of her life in Paris, to make wonderful desserts, using the best ingredients she could find and serve happiness in a box .
Additionally, at the time, stand-alone pastry shops in India were not a thing yet and she wanted to bring that culture to India. And that is how Le 15 (named for the 15th arrondissement in Paris, the neighbourhood where she lived) was born. Pooja had tried her first macaron in Paris and knew instantly that this would be the piece of Paris she would bring back to India with her.

Struggles and Success:
To Pooja, baking is the only thing that makes perfect sense in a world that is chaotically imperfect.
The kitchen at Le15 Patisserie is her favourite place. She says “I am at peace with the buzz of whisking and the aroma of baking. I have to confess it still surprises me how much I feel at home in a kitchen.”
Three outlets were added soon in Mumbai, and Le15 started earning a high brand recall in the gourmet dessert business. In 2018, the headquarters were shifted to Central Mumbai, which now houses 100+ employees, most under the age of 26.
The quintessential Le15 bright-hued macaron boxes have turned into dependable gifting options, featuring all-season favourites like Passion fruit, Nutella seasalt and French vanilla alongside offbeat options like Rose, Paan and Pistachio. Requests for customized wedding desserts, such as macarons with henna designs and cupcakes matching bridal colours, have also increased in the past few years.
Today, all macarons at Le15 are made with plant based colours. Le15 also ships their products nationwide, so everyone can enjoy the delicacies!
Also, to cater to their audience with dietary restrictions, Le15 has introduced a premium range of desserts called ‘Le15 Lite’. This includes an assortment of gluten free, vegan, no refined sugar and sugar free products.

Future Projects:
Pooja had recorded a podcast in 2018 and the response for it exceeded expectations. She is super excited to record and share Season 2 of the podcast, where she plans to highlight the struggles behind the success. A project in the pipeline is ‘Little Le15’, which will contain products for children with no refined sugar and no artificial colours.

Social Activities & Positive Impact on Society:
Pooja believes that everyone should work towards eliminating world hunger. She has collaborated with Save the Children India, where Le15 contributes towards the meals of kids from the sales of their cakes. Additionally, ‘The Plated Project’ is a unique new initiative that they have tied up with, profits from the sale of plates made by local artists (available at their Colaba Cafe) going to Save the Children India.

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By Aishwarya Jaju Published On March 2, 2020

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