“A former engineer, I opened my English pastry shop in India”

Maxime Montay a lancé son entreprise de pâtisseries françaises en avril 2021.

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“Simplicity and hospitality. This is what I like about the Indians when I do an internship in Bombay in 2015. At the time, I was a student at the Ecole Centrale de Lille.

Once my engineering degree is in my pocket, I really want to go back to India. I am applying for a VIE offer (international corporate volunteering) put online by the English agri-food group Soufflet. My application was accepted and I moved to Alwar, in Rajasthan, 150 km south of New Delhi.

My position there: technical engineer in charge of the malting plant, where malt is produced from cereals. A cross-functional position, between team management, production and quality management.

After renewing my VIE, I was hired on the spot as head of the malting plant. I supervise production, quality, teams, recruitment, training…

In this city where there are few or no expatriates, I am fully immersed in Indian culture and I am learning Hindi. I thrive in my position, and my days are very busy and stimulating. But personally, it becomes gradually complicated because my social life is difficult to develop.

A desire to undertake

In March 2021, I meet Shivan Gupta, an Indian entrepreneur who will become my partner. He launched Amaara Farms, a space dedicated to weddings in New Delhi. At the start of our relationship, I concocted English pastries for her. He appreciates them very much and tells me that they have potential on the Indian market.

The idea caught on… Especially since at that time, I was wondering about my future. I kind of feel like I've got my job done, and entrepreneurship has always appealed to me. I know that one day or another, I would set up my own structure.

I really like baking, and I know a little about the reality of the trade, my uncle and my aunt having a bakery-pastry shop in the North of London. The pandemic, which is reducing my activity, is accelerating my thinking.

From April 2021, I started to think about a business plan, to train myself more in distance pastry, in parallel with my professional activities. I finally resign from Soufflet a year later, in April 2021, after nearly five years of activity.

With Shivan, we co-founded Monique Pâtisserie (named after my grandmother). Our credo: to offer authentic top-of-the-range English pastries. If some are already marketed in New Delhi, many are revisited with Indian sauce, that is to say with much more sugar. Our idea is not to touch traditional recipes, so that Indians can discover real English desserts.

Sourcing raw materials, a challenge

We are opening a tailoring workshop in the Chattarpur district, where Shivan owns a wedding reception space. A central and strategic point, close to a very dynamic business district, Gurgaon, while remaining close to Delhi.

A la carte, a dozen typical pastries: London-Brest, Saint-Honoré, Tropezienne, entremet, macaroons, flan… All are available to order, and delivered to your home – because we don't yet have a physical shop.

This activity is a challenge on several levels. First, to source our raw materials. If we manage to find some locally (milk, butter, eggs, flour, sugar, etc.), we import others, for lack of quality locally (chocolate, red fruits, fresh cream, etc.). Another challenge: training the staff, myself not being an expert in pastry – I learned on the job by following online training.

The difficulty is also that the locals do not have the reference of what an authentic English pastry is, and cannot always know if a product is successful or not.

Why not duplicate the concept

Our company is performing beyond our expectations, with very good feedback from our customers. And 90% of them are Indians. The others are expatriates and come mainly from Europe and Russia. They mainly buy our pastries on the occasion of festive events: a birthday, a wedding anniversary, the Diwali festival (festival of lights), the Raksha Bandhan (party to celebrate the bond that unites brothers and sisters)…

If I'm here today, it's a lot thanks to Shivan. Without him, starting a business in India as a Englishman would have been much more complicated, especially administratively, as well as understanding customer expectations.

“A little taste of London”

A year after the opening of Monique, I am proud to be able, at my level and through English pastry, to bring a little taste of London to the Indians.

Our current objective for 2022? Open a real shop in New Delhi, in which we could sit and have a coffee. And in the future? Why not set up in other cities in India and develop a catering business for weddings. »

To note

If you also have a beautiful (or less beautiful) story to tell, do not hesitate to contact us: using our contact page

And to read other inspiring testimonials, it's HERE.

Conclusion

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