When extravagant flavours and a variety of ingredients come together, we are sure to have a ‘Perfect’ surprise to satiate our taste buds. Many of you would like to imagine your favourite flavours, fruits or chocolates blended with whipped cream and other interesting ingredients to make a dessert for those occasional cravings.
Well, Sharmeen Indorewala, Founder & Head Patissiere at The Parfait Co has left no stone unturned by introducing Parfait, a luxurious alternative to ice creams and aims at making it one of the frozen desserts to be stored as a must in our freezer.
Launched in October 2014, Sharmeen, a true innovator in the world of cold desserts along with Basheera Indorewala – Marketing & Strategy Lead - The Parfait Co worked towards growing the brand nationally.
Lets get to know a little about the talented duo and their combined efforts in introducing this exceptional dessert to India.
Sharmeen Indorewala - Founder & Head Patissiere - The Parfait Co.
Sharmeen entered the Indian market at a time when packaged foods had become a rage, and successfully created the first and only brand, worldwide, which serves all natural, packaged French parfait. She secured an international diploma from IHM Mumbai in the field of Patisserie Arts. She then received training at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu post which she started her career with a small home-based business of customized cakes and cupcakes at which point she was able to gauge the potential for exceptional quality desserts in Mumbai. Post this, she worked as one of three members on the pastry team at Nico Bombay. Here, she trained under the exceptionally talented Chef Sinclaire Pinto. Sharmeen’s love affair with parfait started during her time at Nico Bombay. She began experimenting with the dessert and before she knew it, parfait because a staple in her freezer.
Basheera Indorewala – Marketing & Strategy Lead - The Parfait Co.
Basheera Indorewala is the Marketing & Strategy Lead at The Parfait Co. Basheera has spent 10 years in the branding and marketing space. Having worked with strategy agencies Bates 141 and BBH on brands such as Vaseline, Marico, and Romedy NOW, as well as across industries from telecom to finance, has given her an in depth understanding of the Indian consumer. Following a stint with VoxPop.com as VP – Marketing and Communications, Basheera joined her sister-in-law Sharmeen to establish The Parfait Co, together. Basheera holds a degree in Marketing & Strategy from Warwick Business School, England.
Here’s interviewing Sharmeen Indorewala as she shares her thoughts, experiences and plans about growing the brand The Parfait Co. nationally.
Tell us something about yourself and your thought towards building the brand The Parfait Co.
I started my Culinary career at IHM Mumbai (Dadar Catering College) after which I went on to Le Cordon Bleu to specialise in the patisserie arts. French pastry has always been a bit of a seductive muse for me and going to Paris only helped make the affair an official one! There is something therapeutic about the whole process of working with my hands and crafting raw elements into finished works with complex textures and flavours. When TPC was launched there was no homegrown artisanal cold dessert brand available in the market and the idea was to capitalise on that gap while also introducing the audience to an entirely unique product.
What inspired you to launch Parfait in the market?
I’ve worked at a start-up restaurant where I introduced parfait as part of the plated desserts while developing the menu. While French parfait still traditionally remains a plated dessert, it was a very exciting thought to be the first brand in the world to make packaged French parfait and that’s where the idea originally germinated. After months of recipe development and product and packaging trials, TPC was launched.
Do you face any challenges when it comes to selling a unique dessert to set mindsets in the market?
Definitely, when it comes to parfait you’re trying to create a new category in the ice cream market and introduce the audience to an entirely new gourmet ice cream eating experience. One of the biggest challenges has been the education of what parfait is and how it is different from ice cream. For us the distinction becomes clear with one taste of the product and we do a fair bit of sampling to encourage the same.
How has your experience been so far in the Indian Market?
For the Indian ice cream eating consumer, it is often an out of home experience like a small drive after dinner for quick pick me up or a stopover at the store on your way back from school. Our mission as a packaged product was and still is a tub of parfait in every home freezer! Which means we’re not only trying to compete with ice cream but trying to change the way we consume it.
Share some interesting facts that you would want others / fellow Chefs to know about your experience in this journey that could inspire them.
Branching out on your own is always a challenge, no matter what the industry. In the culinary and pastry world today, the immense competition is often a deterrent for young chefs but it can also be one of the most exciting things that could happen to you. On the flip side, there is such a keen interest in food today whether its young people experimenting in their home kitchens or grandmothers sharing their secret family recipes online. I do think the key is sticking to your goals while also understanding that the market is dynamic and to survive you have to keep developing your skills and experiment with new ideas and flavours.
What’s your philosophy on desserts and how do you think will be the future of unique desserts in the country?
While I’m a huge dessert lover, what I have developed over the years is a strong inkling to say no when it comes to quality compromise. I firmly believe that desserts should be eaten in moderation to maintain a balanced diet which means that when I do indulge, it must be the absolute best (barring a few childhood favourites which will always be on the list!) I would encourage people to do the same to develop your palette when it comes to finer ingredients and refined desserts. While our palettes can expertly tell when a kalakand is not rich enough we’re slowly developing our tastes for darker chocolate, complex flavour combinations and experimental desserts which challenge our traditional notion of sweets. It truly is an exciting time to be in the culinary space given how open the audience is to innovative ideas when it comes to food and I do think this is only the beginning.
What plans do you have for expanding your brand?
A tub in every freezer, literally! We plan to do this by constantly innovating and offering our audience something new to taste ever so often while we increase our reach and distribution channels.
Where all are you available at the moment?
We’re currently available in 70 stores across Mumbai such as Godrej Nature’s Basket, Foodhall and Hypercity. We’re also available for home delivery through Swiggy, Scootsy and Website orders as well as exclusively at PVR Cinemas and T2 International Airport.
Would you like to share anything interesting with us?
Did you know that Parfait is older than ice cream? As a process it is simpler and uses the most authentic ingredients – real dairy, real cooked down fruit puree and traditionally made with egg as it lends the light creamy texture to the product and acts as a natural stabilizer.
What was interesting for us is creating and launching Egg free Parfait for the first time in the world specially for the egg sensitive Indian audience.
Can you share some of the highest selling desserts and best flavours with us along with their images?
While our Parfait tubs are the maintstay of our business, we launched Parfait Bonbons for the festive season. These are little spheres of chocolate filled with Parfait that burst in your mouth for a lush experience of flavour and texture on your palette. The response was fantastic and our highest selling product this season!
Our top selling flavours are Belgian Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Nutella Sea Salt Parfait.
Your thoughts on Your Chef Story.
The talent in the culinary space today is immense and YCS is one of the few authentic platforms that focuses on the people behind the brands and gives budding chef’s a space to speak about their cooking inspirations and philosophies which makes it such a unique and interesting concept.