As a foodie, I might have to confess that I may not have a sweet tooth. However, desserts interest me in a very unconventional manner— all of the finesse and techniques involved in baking cakes and fine chocolate from bean to bar mesmerize me. Making bread and pastries from scratch is more than combining ingredients in the right amounts. Like painters, sculptors, and performing artists, the products they make can inspire, soothe, and satisfy us.
I believe that pastry chefs are such artistes and they have an important role to play in the kitchen that calls for unique skills, expert knowledge and exceptional organization. These skills are something you develop in the kitchen under extensive training and a great deal of practice—starting from the basics of preparing crusts, combining flavors and to the extent of ensuring that the baked goods coming out of the oven are consistently delectable!
I’ve been penning down these thoughts after I visited a very sophisticated yet lovely café cum bakery called Lavonne in the heart of Bangalore city. It serves the most decadent pastries and viennoiseries, alongside a wide range of European dishes and beverages. A destination for anyone who loves to go on a sugar high, this café also curates iconic products such as the bucket -cake and moodpill chocolates. Apart from being a café, Lavonne is the birth place of many talented chefs who are passionate about the art of baking. While enjoying my desserts, I was also having a little chat with Lavonne’s chefs and learnt new things about baking, styling pastries and most importantly, their purpose behind building Lavonne. Here’s all you need to about Lavonne – one of India’s best academies for Baking Science and Pastry Arts.
A diverse group of people from different schools of thought but a common voice: food is the only language that binds us all together. Chef Avin, Chef Vinish and Lijo, together established this baking school of international standards in India and named it Lavonne, meaning ‘wood from the tree of life’ in the year 2012.
It’s a given that the art of baking and crafting of patisseries requires immense skill and finesse. Hence, the co-founders of Lavonne decided to teach these techniques to those aspiring to learn the art, considering there was no such school in India. Chef Avin has a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry (Christ College – Hotel Management) and is a research professional with a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) focused in Oenology and Tourism from Jain University, Bangalore; his students know him as the best bread maker in town. Chef Avin has always been a pillar of support for the young innovators out there who wanted to take their food curations to create a positive impact in the industry. This was when he interacted with his student, Vinesh Johnny and came to establish a marquee move in the baking industry for India.
Chef Vinesh is a guy who walks around with a fork at all times, just in case cake happens! Such is his love for desserts and he enjoys baking them. As a student, he wanted to pursue an advanced-level baking course but there were no such course available in India during the early 2000’s. The only option was to go abroad, probably Australia, Malaysia, or France to learn such skills which was usually an expensive affair. Even if one did a skilled course abroad, he/she/ze would return to India with no career options to pursue it because the market was not ready with any opportunities for these kinds of professionals.For the longest time, Vinesh enjoyed curating decadent desserts every day, rich and vibrant with inspiration from many cuisines from all over the globe; and has won many accolades that include a feature as the first-ever ‘Forbes 30 under 30 Asia’ recognition in the arts category in 2016. He’s also won the World Skills Expert in 2017 recognised by Govt. of India.
Back in college, the teacher-student relationship and the curriculum-based entrepreneurial activities like putting up of tuck shops, bartending classes and organising events etc helped them take on financial risks in the hope of profit. The teaching program and curriculum was designed to focus intensively on skills. In light of this, Lavonne Academy invites international pastry chefs to run specialized clinics to train students on advanced skills and unique techniques and styles. There’s also an interesting course known as Sugar Art. Many students from Lavonne participate at international level competitions like World Skills under this category.
As of today they’ve set-up cafés at Domlur and St. Mark’s Road. In 2020, they plan to open their 3rd pastry outlet in Whitefield, introduce three more additional skilled- courses to the study modules and stand up to global requisites with improved expertise in the field of baking.
“Existing competition is good for the growth of Lavonne as a baking school. Applied knowledge and the dissemination of it into the products is what we’d like to achieve with our teachings,” shares Chef Vinesh.