Vegans from the Tricity area were nothing but grateful when Akriti & Jairoop debuted their cloud vegan restaurant & bakery in Chandigarh in 2020.
Both of the boss ladies are entrepreneurs who have started their journey from scratch and have crossed over the pond to build an empire around it. They are not only running a cloud vegan bakery and restaurant in Chandigarh but are also associated with various animal welfare organizations.
They are leading by example and inspiring thousands to go vegan and save the unvoiced. Stunned by their delicious food and efforts, Vegan News Daily orchestrated an interview with them. Over a chit-chat, this is what they both had to say.
Q. When did you become vegan?
I have always been an animal lover; in 2016, my dad rescued a dog, we named him Shadow. It was the first time that I got a chance to share my space with an animal, and I closely observed him; gradually, I realized that we might not speak in the same languages, but he understood everything I spoke. As I am a member of a few animal welfare groups on Facebook, I came across the term vegan on one fine day.
Out of curiosity, I started to read more about it; the more I read, the more mortified I got. I was shattered as I wasn’t able to believe that unknowingly we were causing so much pain to the animals. It was the year 2017; after watching a documentary on the cruelty that happens in the Indian dairy farms, I decided to go vegan.
I am vegan for the animals! Animals are not our possessions and are not meant to be our food, cloth, or entertainers. For me, it was tough to ignore the cruelty, especially that happens in the dairy industry. If I can’t harm my dog, I have no right to harm any other animal as they share the same sentiment.
Q. Tell us how and why did you come up with the idea of a vegan bakery and restaurant.
When I went vegan in 2017, I realized we hardly have any vegan dessert alternatives in Chandigarh. And requesting vegan food from non-vegan restaurants is always doubtful and quite a mess. Therefore, I started baking by myself. Slowly I started baking for my friends, and this is how Forks & Knives happened.
In 2020 Jairoop and I started Gourm’e Greens, a 100% vegan kitchen to deliver delicious yet ethical food to our customers and lay down the roots for veganism in Chandigarh.
Well, Akriti started her bakery in 2018 (her story is mentioned above). I partnered with her to grow it further as a 100% vegan restaurant and bakery cloud kitchen, the first of its kind in Chandigarh.
Our main goal is to provide authentic, healthy, and fresh food to our city’s people. Chandigarh is becoming the diabetes capital of India and has an increasing number of childhood obesity and heart disease cases. Therefore, people must opt for better food that is not only delicious but doesn’t harm health. Keeping this in mind, we established our vegan venture and are glad to see the response we have received so far.
When it comes to delivering healthy food, we know what we are serving. We ensure that we provide food that is cruelty-free, trans-fat-free, and has zero cholesterol. The food we deliver is full of fiber, flavors, and colors.
3. During the initial years, it isn’t easy to sustain a business. What obstacles did you face while setting up the first all-vegan eating space in the Tricity area?
Entrepreneurship is a difficult task, and when it is mixed with breaking a myth that has been religiously running down in families, it becomes a real challenge. First, we had to convince people to try out an unconventional lifestyle. Finding raw vegan material to setting up the kitchen, handling the logistics, and finally delivering the food at the customer’s doorstep, is sometimes quite overwhelming. It becomes more exhausting as we do it all by ourselves without any hired help.
When it comes to marketing, it is another challenge; we do not have considerable funds to post ads to compete with big food chains. We are entirely dependent on word-of-mouth marketing as our super cute customers appreciate and recommend our services.
Challenges and entrepreneurship are packages of the same parcel. Like any other business, we had our share of challenges while setting up the cloud kitchen, But the most challenging task was to introduce the concept of veganism to the people. The tireless effort to get an ethically sourced raw material to create a dish that is at a par with what is being served in the traditional eateries was a great challenge, and we love to work on it every day.
Q. Which is your hot-selling dish, and what are the magic ingredients that make it so unique?
All of our products have received boundless love from the customers. If I have to select the bestseller, I have to go with Dark chocolate truffle cake from Forks & Knives and Caprese pizza from Gourmet kitchen.
Our raw materials are fresh as we make everything in-house right from scratch. From preparing vegan cheese to the marina, everything is prepared in-house.
In fact, our bakery products are also made fresh, and we don’t use any premixes or frozen cakes. Cake preparation begins right after we receive an order.
Caprese Pizza is a hot-seller; the sun-dried tomatoes with almond milk-based cheese and fresh homegrown basil is what makes it so unique and makes sure to deliver the most authentic taste of Italy.
Also, we have to add our Shahi paneer to the hot seller list as it is unbelievably rich and creamy that nobody can guess they are eating tofu. For our vegan Shahi Paneer’s success, we have to thank the local tofu brands as they have constantly improved the quality. Gone are the days when tofu used to be a rigid block with a weird soy taste. People love the rich, creamy cashew cream with freshly grounded spices as they make the dish irresistible.
And how can we forget Brassica Bang Bang, which has turned people into broccoli lovers. We serve it with our bang bang sauce, and several times we have been asked for the recipe, but it is a trade secret, of course.
From the bakery, the chocolate truffle, blueberry, and butterscotch cakes are a super hit. Our newly launched crunchy cookies are launched in various flavors and have got so much love.
People get astonished when they learn that sweet delicacies can be made vegan and delicious.
Q. What are your future goals with the startup?
We hope to keep receiving the love and support of people and aim to shift from a cloud kitchen to a dine-in place as we want to serve delicious food along with a beautiful ambiance.
We plan to convert our cloud kitchen into a café where people can come and relax while enjoying excellent vegan food. Our aim is to make the most welcoming and compassionate place ever! We are excited about the launch.
Q. Is there any message for our audience?
Try vegan; it is light, healthy, and delicious!
We firmly believe that food can change lives. Our request to our customers is always to keep an open mind while tasting our vegan food as plants can mimic animal food but cannot give an exact replica. So sit back and enjoy the delicious palette of flavors we strive to offer.
Q. How can people order your delicious food?
Through our website Or Via our Instagram handles.
Forks n Knives: https://instagram.com/forks_n_knives?igshid=fhlf0q2qx4cf
Gourm`e Greens: https://instagram.com/gourmegreenschd?igshid=1gponj2qesw95