Shitija Nahata on her love for Crepes, Cupcakes and Travel

Shitija Nahata at Cupcake Company

We caught up with self-taught Pastry Chef and Director of Cupcake Company, Shitija Nahata, to hear her story over a a pair of beautifully buttered French Toasts at Kitchen 187– her latest venture. 

Tell us about yourself. 

I was in Sales and Marketing at the Hyatt some years back. After I married I took a break from work. I took it upon myself to make little treats for my niece and nephew. I’m totally self-taught. Word got around and sooner than later, I was supplying cupcakes to Amethyst and Chamier’s in Chennai. Almost a year later, we opened Cupcake Company on Mary’s Road. 

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How did Kitchen 187 come into the picture? 

We travel a lot, my husband and I. We were on one of those trips when at a small little cafe in Paris, they served us Tomato Mozzarella Crepes. We’d had so many crepes before, but nothing like this. I felt myself thinking that this would be a nice idea for a cafe. On a train journey afterward, I told my husband about my crepe dream for Chennai. He, being the business minded person he is, started working out the business model. I was seeing it happen all at once. 

Many people are of the view that a baker can’t be a good chef and vice versa. I beg to differ. I’ve always felt that you can’t teach flavours. I have my own style of doing things and so does everyone else. Once we were back, I started my experiments with different types of crepes. 

I always believe, “One thing right, not 200 things wrong.” So I battled with the menu quite a bit. I zeroed in on what I wanted. I practiced a lot and in January we started construction. We opened on the 28th of March. 

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Tell us about the choices on the menu..

Back in the day, Crepes were made of buck wheat. We wanted to bring in savoury crepes with European flavours. French is not a spicy cuisine to begin with- so we explored our options in sun dried tomatoes, caramelized onions and the lot. We import the best ingredients we can find. I hate to compromise- it’s not even about the fact that we have to import, but I can’t settle for the cheap instead of the best. We found a niche market that was aware of the quality that goes into food and we knew they would come our way.

Your favourites on the menu are..

Pesto Russo with caramelized onions, our French Toast- we make our own bread-and of course, our crepes.

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What’s at Kitchen 187 ? 

Paris in Chennai. 

What drives you? 

My travels and my family. 

And there you have it. When she’s not shuttling between cities, you can see her sipping on some coffee with a crepe and a laptop for company at Kitchen 187 on Mary’s Road. 

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