All of 22 years old, Shivesh Bhatia is a social media star. Why? Because his recipes are anything but conventional, and his food styling is anything but ordinary. Along with his chef’s hat, he also wears an author’s cap. In his book Bake with Shivesh (published by Harper Collins India), he demystifies the art of baking, food styling and taking fabulous food pictures. His dream? To bake with Nigella Lawson. Nigella, are you listening?
2. On Baking
What are your earliest memories in the kitchen?
My earliest memory in the kitchen is sitting on the counter and watching my mum bake. My nani used to bake a lot too. Every time I visited my nani, she would bake the perfect chocolate cake for us, the best I’ve ever had. In 2012, she suffered a paralytic attack and couldn’t bake after that. I was with my cousins and we were talking about how much we missed her chocolate cake. We decided to give baking a shot. That was the first time I actually baked something. We made chocolate cupcakes and burnt the entire batch! But I enjoyed baking so much that I began experimenting and practising on my own. There has been no looking back since.
3. On Bake with Shivesh
How is your book different from your blog?
The book is actually an extension of my blog. Just like the blog, the book has dessert recipes explained in simple manner. It also has baking tips and tricks, about equipment and ingredients (how to pick and source the best) and a detailed section on food styling (composition, props, backgrounds, fabrics). It is followed by a section on food photography and its technical aspects such as light, equipment, how to take action shots and phone photography.
4. Baking as a Career
Were you ever apprehensive about taking up baking as a career? How did your family and friends react?
Not at all!My family and friends are my support system, my cheer leaders. It was not difficult to convince them at all. On the contrary, they have always told me I can do it when I am nailed down by self doubt. When I graduated from Hindu College last year, I knew I wanted to blog full time. I was also able to support my decision financially because the revenue from blogging was already great.
5. On Social Media
Instagram played a huge role in your success. What is your take on social media and its role in the culinary industry?
Indeed! My journey started on Instagram and it continues to be a major part of what I do. I think social media has opened up several new avenues and aids in expanding and growing businesses. A lot of home bakers and home chefs run their business on social media. Several chefs and owners also use social media to promote their restaurants.
6. Taste or Visual Aesthetics
In what ratio would you lay emphasis on the taste of food and the visual aesthetics of food?
I think it depends on your line of work. If you are a home baker or a chef, taste of the food is supreme. How it looks is also very important because a customer would not pick it off the shelf if it does not look appealing. However, if it doesn’t taste great, they will not come back for it. So in this case taste comes first and visual aesthetics follow. For someone like me who is into creating content, how the food looks is more important. As a content creator, I am not selling my desserts, I am only selling the visuals. So in my line of work, I personally believe the visual appeal is more important.