Live baking start-up in Lahore brings innovation with a dose of women empowerment

All women-led start-up aims to provide training and interest-free loans to women, so they can become entrepreneurs

When it comes to food, Lahore is still behind Karachi in many terms, but slowly and steadily, new eateries are adding up innovative and fresh flavours to the market.

Along with the new food items, the modern idea of women-owned structures and all-women employees is helping reduce gender disparity and aiding to create an exclusive environment for women.

Farwa Hussain, a 29-year-old head chef is working at a start-up named “The Pasticceria” in a private housing society next to Lahore’s Canal Road. The bakery hosts a live kitchen setup for the customers, where they can pre-order from the menu and have the chef make everything in front of them.

“I grew up while assisting my grandmother in the kitchen. She was from Delhi and her cooking techniques were different and authentic when it came to any cuisine,” said Farwa, while talking to Minute Mirror.

The head chef has worked in different bakeries in Europe and Amsterdam.

“When I was working in Amsterdam or Europe, the vibe of the kitchen used to be so different. This venture is trying to create the same vibe in the neighborhood, where people can experience the fresh smell of baking bread and other things,” said Hussain.

After you order, a reservation is made against your name and when you arrive at the venue, everything is freshly prepared in front of you, allowing you to witness the exact ingredients which are being used to make your food.

The genius behind this idea is of Salman Sufi, founder of Sufi Foundation and the brain behind projects like Women on Wheels and Saaf Bath, which are providing safe and independent mobility to women along with hygiene-friendly public washrooms.

Talking to Minute Mirror, Sufi explained, “There are so many cases where the employers of women have tortured their female staff and kicked them out without any prior notice. That is why we have come up with the idea of building the employee while building the brand.”

Pasticceria functions with the help of two female chefs and one other woman who manages the operations.

“How is it possible that you plan to make the economy strong and leave the 51 percent of the population [women] behind. We have to create such an environment where women can hold executive posts and train other women,” said Sufi.

The idea behind the start-up is to support women in the culinary field and then give them interest-free loans so they can start their own chain of restaurants.

“We have a huge basement here. From the start of winters, a special training programme will be launched in which women will get training from the expert chefs, and with the help of loans, they will be opening more branches of this brand,” Sufi added.

While answering a question related to the prices, Sufi said, “We are not competing with the brands who are already in the market. This place is not a bakery where you come and get the brownies. Here, every customer will sit and watch the process and ingredients of the dishes which are all imported, and then enjoy his meal. According to the order, the whole process can take 2-3 hours of pure cooking entertainment and learning experience.”

Women rights activist and managing editor of Naya Daur Media, Ailia Zehra, visited the place and while wishing the team all the success, stated, “The uniqueness of this place is a fresh wave for women entrepreneurs. The desserts are amazing and we do not have these flavors or techniques of cooking present in Lahore. This place will add more colours to the food market of our city.”