Interview by Menule.
‘Moi Bake’ is a home-based venture in Nagaland delighting local customers with custom-made cakes and other baked goodies. I chat with Sony Jemu – the baker behind ‘Moi Bake’ – who interestingly picked up this baking hobby at a time she was unemployed post her Masters. “After completion of my masters, I struggled with being an unemployed youth. It was during those days when I would stay home, and watch television shows on TLC. I was especially glued to the baking shows. That’s when I decided to give it a go and try baking myself..”
What started as a leisure activity, is today, an admirable venture, enticing and inspiring many around her. And most importantly, it is something that brings Sony much solace and happiness, as a budding entrepreneur – and a happy baker!
Meet Sony Jemu, a self-taught baker and budding entrepreneur – and the chief baker behind ‘Moi Bake’ Nagaland.
Menule: Hello Sony, nice to meet you. Please introduce yourself to our viewers.
Hello, my name is Sony Jemu, owner of ‘Moi Bake.’ I started my home baking business in April 2020. What started as an act to show a gesture of love to my family and friends with homemade goodies ended up with a love and passion for it. In the monotonous pace of household chores and office works, I find my joy and solace in baking.
If 2020 was a mood… custom cake by ‘Moi Bake’
Menule: How would your friends describe you?
My friends will identify me by my craze for food (I’m a foodie) and my passion for cooking and baking.
Menule: Introduce us to your work and what got you started?
It’s been about 4 years since I built a keen interest in baking. Initially, I started baking for my families and friends and I always thought of starting a home-based baking business for some years but I didn’t have the guts to go ahead with it until last year.
After completion of my masters, I struggled with being an unemployed youth. It was during those days when I would stay home watch television shows on TLC. That’s when cooking shows drew my inspiration, especially baking shows. It was one of those moments when I tried my hands on baking. It was a struggle in the beginning since I had no experience whatsoever. But gradually with time, trials and errors brought out the best in me as it helped me where I am today as a self-taught baker.
Menule: What is an activity or a hobby you like to do in your leisure time?
Apart from cooking and baking, I have a keen interest in sewing.
Menule: Tell us a little known fact about your culture, or something that is pretty well known among the locals but not known to outsiders, something that you find interesting/fascinating or unique.
I was born and raised in a mixed-culture family. My father is from the Rengma community while my mother belongs to the Sumi tribe. One thing that fascinates me most is the Sumi Naga’s indigenous way of spouses sharing their meal together on a traditional wooden stand plate called “Asukhu”, signifying oneness. There’s something special and uniquely intimate about this practice.
Menule: What was the first thing you ever baked?
Way back in 2017, I baked a birthday cake for a friend that was when I first tried my hands-on baking. For a beginner with no formal training in pastry or culinary, I was quite satisfied. Back then baking wasn’t popularized and I had no idea where to get certain ingredients. So I had to make everything from scratch with no proper baking tools, I used whatever kitchen equipment I could get a hold on of. I even used a ruler as a pastry scraper, since I didn’t own one.
Though it was my first bake, I went the extra mile by making a figurine from homemade fondant. I received positive responses from loved ones and that really motivated me to push my limits further.
Menule: How many hours do you invest in making your pastries? How do you manage your time?
My daily hours vary based on the number of orders. There are days when I work for almost 12 hours at a stretch to churn out all the goodies. I’m a stickler for details and perfection, hence I’m a one-woman- army who does everything from preparation to baking to decorating.
When it comes to managing time, I stay very organized by maintaining a planner. I note down every detail of the orders that I receive. This helps me avoid any confusion or missing out on any orders in between. Besides, it also allows me to schedule ahead of time and ensures that I do not schedule more than I can handle.
Menule: How do you come up with the different designs and flavours of your cakes?
Since I usually take customised orders, many a time my clients come up with the designs. When it comes to flavours, I watch a lot of baking videos online, through which I incorporate my own version and also try to experiment with local ingredients.
Menule:’Moi Bake’ has been around for over a year now. How has the experience with your work been to date?
Baking is my therapy and my creative outlet. When I started ‘Moi Bake’, I realised that my ‘fun’ hobby was no longer quite relaxing. Baking professionally is about being fast, efficient and consistent. Running your own business forces you to do tasks you’ve never dealt with before.
All of a sudden, you’re the salesperson, marketer, bookkeeper, photographer and financial manager. All of these become quite intimidating and challenging. But thankfully it is something I love and I’m passionate about.
Despite all these challenges and hardships, I’m truly touched by the support and encouragement that our people have shown towards my small venture. It has really motivated me to carry on and also to improvise more with my skills.
Menule: What is your favourite afternoon/midnight snack recipe?
Favourite snack!! Erm.. difficult to answer since I have a whole lot of favourites, but if I have to pick one it would be a vegetable grilled sandwich since it’s very basic and easy to make but taste heavenly. All you need is bread slices stuffed with raw and sliced vegetables, cheese, salt and pepper and grilled till crispy. This has always been my go-to recipe and it’s a must-try for anyone craving a restaurant like a sandwich.
Menule: We are bound to face tough days in life, along with the good ones. If you are having a bad day how do you deal with it?
Cooking always helps me feel better. So on days when I feel low I cook, it keeps my mind distracted – in a good way 🙂
Menule: Are you working on some new projects/works currently? If so, please share.
Currently, I’m working on new techniques like gum paste and wafer flowers. One thing that I’ve learnt about making cake is that there are endless possibilities and seeing what others are able to do only solidifies the idea that there are no limitations in this medium.
Menule: Thank you so much for your time. Please do let us know if you have any goals before the year ends?
My goal for 2021, is to experiment with different ingredients and come up with a variety of recipes. I also plan to improvise on my current Russian honey cake (Medovik) recipe, which is the best selling cake. My target is to use organic honey rather than the ones that we get in the market.
Best Seller Russian honey cake by ‘Moi Bake’ Nagaland
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