An Exclusive Interview With Alyssa Chesson, Co-Founder Of Caramel Carousel In Mumbai

If you’re a Mumbai foodie and have not heard of Caramel Carousel, then it’s highly likely that you’ve had your head buried in the (metaphorical) sand for a while now. Launched in late 2014, Caramel Carousel is a gourmet patisserie spearheaded by Alyssa Chesson and Rishabh Varma, both alumni of the legendary Le Cordon Bleu in London.

Since it launched, Caramel Carousel has been delighting dessert afficiandos across the city with its quirky ice creams (Milk Chocolate Bacon, anyone?) and its legendary croquembouche towers. For those of you that are not in the know (catch some old seasons of MasterChef Australia!), the Croquembouche Tower is a French dessert, painstakingly constructed using an array of profiteroles that are stacked into a conical tower and woven together with sugar.

While we can explain the basic idea behind a croquembouche tower, we’re nowhere near being an expert on the dessert. So, to give you a better idea about the world of Caramel Carousel, and, in extension, the croquembouche tower we caught up with Alyssa Chesson, for some delicious insights into the brand.

Alyssa2

Tell us about the chain of events that caused you and Rishabh to end up at Le Cordon Bleu. Did you know each other before attending it?

“Rishabh and I are both very passionate about food, especially dessert. Naturally the next step was to enrol ourselves into the prestigious and world famous Le Cordon Bleu, so that we could make our passion into a profession. We completed an intensive one year patisserie diploma in which we were taught everything from tempering chocolate to baking bread! We met during the last term of our course and have been friends since then!”

Alyssa

Why did the two of you decide to collaborate for the venture? Why focus on desserts?

“After returning from London we both worked at restaurants in Mumbai. We soon realised that we had a lot to offer this city in terms of dessert and pastries and wanted to start something of our own. We wanted people to taste and experience traditional French desserts  like choux pastry (profiteroles) instead of the typical cupcakes and cookies which are offered at most dessert places.”

We specialise in making profiteroles and artisanal ice creams.”

How did you come up with the name ‘Caramel Carousel’?

“Our signature product is our salted caramel sauce, which goes into making our salted caramel ice cream, in our profiterole filling, our tarts  and we even sell this delicious sauce on its own. That’s where the  name Caramel Carousel comes from. We would like to think that the caramel carousel experience takes one on a gastronomic journey and is a carnival for your taste buds.”

Salted

Describe the perfect croquembouche in one sentence.

“The perfect croquembouche is one that looks beautiful and tastes even better. It’s traditionally served at weddings as a French wedding cake and is a lot of fun to ‘cut’ as one as to hammer at it to break it.”

FullSizeRender-(1)

Briefly describe the process that goes into building a croquembouche tower.

To make the croquembouche we first make the choux buns, then make and flavour our pastry cream. Once the choux buns are baked and have cooled down we fill them with this luscious pastry cream and then dip them in either chocolate or caramel depending on the flavour. To assemble the croquembouche we boil sugar and water to make a sugar syrup and then begin to dip these choux buns into this  hot syrup ( which acts as the glue to construct the tower) . We then slowly begin to construct a tower-like structure. All our croquembouche structures are done free hand without the help of any cone.”

You’re also well known for your quirky artisanal ice creams. How do you come up with the flavour combinations?

“We love to experiment with unique flavour combinations and this comes through in our ice creams. People in India are becoming more open to trying out different flavours and the average person’s palate is more experimental. Our ice creams like blue cheese honey, milk chocolate bacon and dark chocolate truffle (mushroom) are flavours that we love and enjoy.”

Chocolate

What are some of your favourite products?

“Favourites on the menu are the blue cheese honey ice cream, our profiteroles and salted caramel tarts.”

An unusual ingredient you’d love to work with?

“We love to push the boundaries and  would love to work with foie gras, possibly doing a foie gras mousse ice cream.”

Comment on the dessert scene in Mumbai in general.

“I think the dessert scene in Mumbai is growing and booming. It’s great to see that people are willing to experiment,  try new flavours  and step away from the usual familiar desserts.”

How do you feel about the response that you’ve got from Mumbaikars?

“We have got a great response which is very encouraging and cathartic.”

What have been some challenges in establishing a luxury patisserie in Mumbai?

“I think the usual challenges like finding suppliers, sourcing equipment – which any patisserie would face in the beginning. Finding the correct space was also a challenge.”

Where do you hope to see Caramel Carousel going in the future?

“We are now planning on launching an exclusive brand of ice creams which will be available from our kitchen/ store as well as at various retail outlets as the demand is only growing.

Caramel Carousel as a brand will make and offer profiteroles, tarts and the rest of our current menu while our new brand will focus exclusively on ice cream. Watch this space!”

Tarts

We don’t need to be told twice; we’re definetly going to keep one eye on Caramel Carousel. Didn’t those photographs convince you that you need to, too? Perhaps it’s time to take the next step and taste some of the brand’s products. Go ahead – you know your taste buds want to.