Kashmir’s French bakery outlet ‘Le-Delice’ has attracted customers from local residents to politicians, diplomats, and tourists for its mouth-watering pastries, chocolates, wedding cakes and delicious desserts, over the past several years.
The outlet is owned by Saqib Mir and his French wife, Melanie. The couple owns two of its outlets at Boulevard on the banks of Dal Lake and the second one at City Mall, Lal Chowk. After witnessing a good response from the people, Mir is likely to openhis third outlet in Barzulla area of Srinagar.
Mir told Rising Kashmir that from his childhood, he was inclined toward bakery products. “My grandfather used to pick me up from school and on way to home, he used to stop near Jan Bakery at Dalgate to buy me cream rolls,” he said.
“I was interested in the bakery because it is part of the culture in Kashmir. Valley has a rich collection of bread, Roath, Kashmiri dry Kulcha, Girda, Lavasa, Bakerkhani, Sheermall, and other products,” Mir added.
After completing his basic education in Srinagar, he went to France in 2005 and completed his 2 and half year Diploma in French Patisseries.
“I stayed there for nearly a decade and married Melanie. I come back to Kashmir along with my family and wanted to do something for people. My wife initially wanted to set up a cafeteria but later we decided to set up a bakery outlet,” he said.
Mir says they returned to Valley in 2014 and started the Le-Delice baking workshop. After several months, Kashmir witnessed the worst floods and his equipment got damaged.
Again in July 2015, the couple opened their first bakery outlet at Boulevard along the banks of Dal Lake.
Mir says initially, he was not sure that they would get orders on a daily basis, but with time, we made a good presence in our market. From locals to high-profile clients, Le-Delice has achieved with their quality, taste, texture, and affordable rates, he said.
Inside the outlet, the bakery items are displayed in elegant French baskets while the walls are painted lavender and white.
People visit Le-Delice to purchase almond delice, French heart, choco fills, walnut , cupcakes, Hazelnut Brownies, Donuts, French bread, cookies, almond delice,lemon tarts, choco walnut tarts, cookies, religieuse, lemon charlotte, pastries, cakes and other delicacies.
“Over the past several years, the outlet gained wide popularity among the people. Our customers became our ambassadors and we grow along with them,” he said.
Around 40 employees are working in the Mir’s outlets including 8 senior chefs who prepare the delicacies. We try out different recipes to get the perfect results. There is no compromise on quality, he said.
Mir says the climate in Kashmir is very suitable for French bakery products because normally we work at 20-25 degrees. In hotter places outside Kashmir, there is a need more for sophisticated equipment, he says.
The outlet is acting as a platform for young bakers as Mir has trained over 100 people across Kashmir. There is no dearth of talent in Kashmir but there is a need for guidance and proper skills.
In 2018, French envoy to India Alexandre Ziegler visited Kashmir; he could not resist visiting Le Delice to enjoy the authentic French pastries there. “Such a warm and tasty welcome and what a beautiful family venture,” Ziegler tweeted on June 11.
In September this year, Mir paid tribute to Queen Elizabeth II by designing crown-shaped cake, which signifies the queen as the world knows that she liked dark chocolate, so he made sure the flavour is her favorite too.
“We have all grown with the story of the Royals and since I am a baker, I thought what better way to pay her a tribute than making her favorite flavored cake,'' he said.
About the message for young entrepreneurs, Mir said there are no shortcuts to success and they should work hard and keep going.
"They should be true to themselves and their work. Focus to learn things that can improve your life, that can stimulate your passion, and give you the energy to learn more,” he said.