It is now a far gone conclusion among my friends and colleagues that I can be many things, but definitely not a baker. No amount of watching food shows on the telly, detailed recipes from cookbooks by renowned chefs or even YouTube videos can help me get around this culinary science. I have blamed the oven, calling it a blackhole on many occasions for the charred stuff that comes out of it; and have questioned the quality of the ingredients and the tools; and of course my perennial lack of patience.

Not one to give up so easily, I continue to emotionally blackmail my loved ones into trying the end product of my efforts and then accusing them of being poor judges of potentially phenomenal bakes.

It has now come to a point that I have begun to question the intentions of all those who share with me the bounties of their trysts with their oven. My colleague’s teenage daughters, for example, send me wedges of absolutely divine cakes that they rustle up just like that, without having spent hours poring over a recipe, analysing it, comparing it with other recipes, trying to understand all its nuances, something that I clearly do all the time. While I relish each morsel, I can almost hear the derisive scoff of the devil of envy within. I have to admit sincere compliments don’t happen easily on these occasions.

And then the pandemic struck us all, compelling us to seek therapy in the warmth of the kitchen. And now as we emerge from the dark phase, I feel I am faced with the bitter truth – while everyone I know has crossed over to being a baker, I am left behind as I still cannot bake.

So when Anand told me that he has got an opportunity to interview Shivesh Bhatia (read the feature), a 20-something self-taught baker and a YouTube sensation who has millions following him for his stunning cakes and bakes, I not only said yes to the idea but I feel a renewed sense of inspiration as well.

I shall ignore the gasp of dread from the other half.

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