If Dexter were to become a chef, his kitchen would sure look like ‘laboratory’, where the craziest of dishes would be born. Likewise, under Chef Boopesh Pichaimani’s training are created some unique ice cream flavours and desserts, at the Writer’s Café’s new branch in Taramani, where he heads operations. To empower the employees working there, the café’s management and he have created Chennai’s first ever School of Creamery, where making ice creams and confectionary from scratch form part of the syllabus.
The staff mostly consists of burn victims and differently-abled individuals from the The Spastics Society of Tamil Nadu (SPASTN) — ‘We don’t need your sympathy but support’ is the motto they follow. Through these regular classes, the trainers hope such individuals can one day, stand on their own feet. “When our new outlet opened at Taramani earlier this year, we included ice cream as an additional product. The staff who joined us had zero knowledge about it so we decided to impart training to them,” says Boopesh.
Explaining the structure of the course, he says, “Most of us will know what yeast, sugar or maida is before stepping into a pâtisserie; we will at least theoretically know of the chemical reaction that will happen upon mixing two ingredients. These individuals don’t have the same awareness, so we begin by guiding them about different types of raw materials used in making desserts.” Then they move on to handling of the products, storage, hygiene and cooking methods, all according to international standards, before delving into details of the products sold to the customers. “They are exposed to the best of produce and equipment, without any compromise on quality,” he shares.
One such employee, who got trained in making ice creams, was awarded best employee of the month a couple of months ago, by the Sri Lankan Minister for Education, Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, during a visit to Chennai, the chefs tells us. “Yes, one of the main aims of the school is to enable people to be self-sustaining and we achieve this by boosting their confidence,” he smiles.
The very method in which the team works is unusual — they don’t play by the rules but love experimenting to create new recipes. “We like experimenting with flavours and products like rose petals, betel leaves, honey, fresh fruits like guava and mango because that’s what gives room for innovation. Only once I am satisfied do we jot down the recipe and add it to the menu,” says Boopesh.
As for making the creamery’s course public, he says, “We do already offer one-day workshops that are approximately four hours long to those interested. However, we wish to design a more elaborate syllabus and launch longer courses in dessert-making.” Working out of the first floor of his building, he goes back to measuring sugar for his next ice cream experiment — hopefully it’ll get added to the school’s already extensive list of creations.