Kainaz Messman’s humble entrepreneurial venture, Theobroma, was conceptualised on her idea of having a neighbourhood café, where friends and families could rejoice over good food. Her brand has exploded to conquer Mumbai’s taste buds since, and this International Women’s Day, we celebrate her achievement in Chefdom. – Rashima Nagpal
Messman wouldn’t even have become a pastry chef, had a trip to France not made her 16-year-self realise her calling. Thank god for a strawberry tart that made her realise that a food fetish could develop into a profession. The chef’s affair with food can be traced deeper into her childhood. With a mother who ran a catering business herself, Kainaz’s memories are made up of impromptu breakfast trips, midnight treats with her mum and sister and teary-eyed Sundays full of onions. From being brought up by a mother who celebrates food to now having a foodie husband, Messman is certainly enjoying her hands job. She figured she wanted to become a pastry chef early in life, when she travelled to France as part of a youth exchange programme at the age of sixteen. Higher education in hotel management followed after.
Yet the magnanimous success of Theobroma came as a pleasant surprise to her. She says she started with product knowledge only. But over the years, she has come to understand business. “I want to believe I am more patient,” she says. Just like Theobroma has carved a special place in the hearts of the people of Mumbai, the founder wants to spread the love beyond now. “We’re aiming at building upon our strengths to increase our footfall. After twelve years in the business, we’ve recently opened our first outlet outside our home city.”
On a quizzing round with T+L, she revealed some of her favourites:
If not a chef, she’d have been
Her favourite gourmet stores from around the world
La Grande Épicerie de Paris and Dean & DeLuca in New York
Bakeries she advises you visit
Christophe Michalak in Paris, Dominique Ansel in London, Pierre Hermé in Paris, and Tartine Manufactory in San Francisco
Books she’s reading
Tartine Bread and Tartine No 3.
Contemporaries she admires
Sabyasachi Gorai (Chef Saby)