Quarantine Home Bakers - 3

Jun 04 2020. view 127


The coronavirus and the two-month lockdown haven’t been great for a lot of business – especially restaurants and cafés relying on hungry customers and diners to make a profit. But turning adversity into opportunity is a special skill we Sri Lankans seemed to have mastered over the years and that is exactly what we’ve successfully done in times like these. 
 
In this series, we talk to people who turned their passion for food and baking into a business idea. Some have been in the market for years and others saw the new opportunity and took it! With dining out now a distant possibility, these businesses are changing the game and have overcome the odds of running a business during the quarantine.   Here’s how they did it.

 

DOT’S HOME CATERING 
A lawyer by profession and a baker by passion, Sarita de Fonseka’s home catering brand ‘Dot’s’ offers sumptuous meals for small groups of 4 to 20 for occasions such as family dinners and small office gatherings. 
 
1. What do you offer? 
- Dot’s offers a wide array of western dishes and our best sellers are Dot’s Signature Dishes such as the Quiche (with several flavour options), lasagna, the Kahlua Mocha Biscuit Pudding, Bread Pudding with whiskey-soaked raisins, Chocolate Brandy Cream Pots with cranberries and nougat and our Triple Layered Butterscotch Bliss among others.  Interestingly, I introduced most of these during curfew and they became an instant hit! 
 
 
2. When did you start operations?
- I have been in operation since December 2014, albeit as a hobby and alongside my regular work. As curfew commenced, several of my clients were inquiring as to whether I was taking orders as many of them were finding it difficult to have to cook all meals and also were keen on having home-cooked food from someone trustworthy. The demand has been so high that I have had to increase my capacity to accommodate the demands during the lockdown. I have also had to alter the modus operandi as I used to cater to ready-to-serve dishes, but now I also offer single-use foil containers for family-sized packs of 4 – 6 people, generally garnished and with a personal note with serving suggestions of course!
 
3. What was it like running your operations during curfew? 
- Challenging! From sourcing ingredients to managing deliveries, it was not easy, but thankfully I found ways and means to overcome every hurdle. My family, as always, has been a great strength and support to me, with my Mum stepping in and helping me out, no matter how tired she was and my Brother and Sister (in-law) taking over almost all deliveries (with the help of my nephew of course!), sometimes in the pelting rain. 
 
 
4. Was it difficult to source your ingredients? 
- Yes, I offered different set menu combinations and undertook special orders depending on what ingredients I could source during the curfew.
 
5. How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
- I am making every effort to ensure the safety of all my valued clients and staff and adopt strict hygienic measures. The fact that I operate from home and personally make all dishes myself (with some help of course!) I believe certainly helps. 
 
6. What was the most challenging part about operating during curfew?
- Sourcing ingredients and difficulties in delivery to large numbers were difficult initially, but gradually I managed to work out a system that allowed me to source out all my ingredients and my deliveries. 
 
 
7. How do you Home Bakers going forward post-COVID? 
- I believe Dot’s (and all other home-bakers) offers a great solution for wholesome, safe, home-cooked meals while at home during the lockdown and even for small gatherings (at home or in offices) once that is permitted. There will always be a demand for high-quality food from a trustworthy supplier who values each and every individual and sees them as more than a number. 
*Orders can be placed via text/Whatsapp (+94776400589) and Instagram/Facebook (@dotshomecatering) and requires 2 days’ notice in advance. Payment can be made via bank transfer or cash on delivery. 
 
 
LITTLE MISS SHORTCAKE
Little Miss Shortcake by Ashmita Wijesinghe takes after her personality. ‘Colourful, bubbly with a love for baking’, Ashmita’s love for all things sweet allowed her to turn her hobby into a business.
 
1. What do you offer? 
- As the name suggests – we do shortcakes! We do all kinds of cakes like – messy mud cake, very very passion sponge date and nut cake, family love cake, and a healthy sugar-free fruit cake.  Our most popular items would be some of the specials like the classic coffee cake, the classic chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies, and of course, our messy mud cake. 
 
 
2. When did you start operations?
- I started my business back in my school days where I was baking as a hobby doing treats for my friends and family and eventually got my name out there after a few bake sales at Food Festivals back in 2016 and has been running since.  
 
3. What was it like running your operations during curfew? 
- It’s been quite challenging but it did open a door for new repeated customers and business is actually much better than what it has been compared to the last 2 years and it kept me going during the curfew!  
 
 
4. Was it difficult to source your ingredients? 
- It was hard getting the required ingredients during curfew and getting the deliveries sent on time was a bit stressful. But it also allowed me to create a new variety of cakes and baked goods as well as managing with what I have and what I can source. Once I got connected to all these small local suppliers that give very fresh produce for reasonable prices it became pretty easy to handle. 
 
5. How are you ensuring the proper hygiene measures are taken in preparation and delivery?
- Preparation has always been important from gathering the necessary ingredients and supplies to keeping my home kitchen clean and regularly washing your hands and wearing a mask. Even with the delivery company, I make it a point to ensure they are hygienic from pick up to drop off. 
 
6. What was the most challenging part about operating during curfew?
- Getting the delivery done on time and also the fact that the ingredients have to be pre-ordered a week in advance. This meant I had to carefully think about what I need and all the logistics about it well in advance. 
 
 
7. How do you Home Bakers going forward post-COVID?
- Well, right now the competition is very high and it is increasing every day but I think after the pandemic subsides and we go back to our normal routines, only home bakers who are the cream of the crop will carry on with business. 
*. Orders can be placed via Instagram (@little.miss.shortcake) or Facebook (@littlemissshortcake) or via 0773123644. Payments can be made via bank transfer or cash on delivery. 
 
 
 
 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Panchali Illankoon

Law Graduate, food and travel enthusiast and full time dog mom..


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