Tag: Shuktara Cakes

Shuktara Cakes team

Shuktara Cakes in the news

From The Telegraph India 22nd November 2021


Meet the inspiring bakers of Shuktara Cakes

These men have emerged smiling and victorious against personal battles with disability, and are the soul of Kolkata’s beloved French bakery

Video team: Aatreyee Mohanta and Madhurai Banerjee

In Kolkata, when craving a madeleine or financier, Shuktara Cakes is almost always the name that comes to mind. Established in 2013 by  Alain Cojean, director of Cojean restaurants in Paris, this Behala bakery soon became a crowd pleaser. 

However, their story began years back in 1999 when British national David Earp started Shuktara as a charity to care for children and young adults with disabilities. 

“In 2013, the boys were grown up and we wanted a way to empower them and make them independent. That’s when Shuktara Cakes started,” said Pappu Mishra, Chairman of Shuktara in a chat with My Kolkata at the Shuktara facility. 

The bakery is spread over the rooms on the ground floor of a Behala home, which is also the NGO’s care centre. A team of five men, who all grew up in that home, now create delicious sweet treats right there, spearheaded and supported by Somnath Sardar, manager of Shuktara Cakes. 

There’s a camaraderie only found in childhood friends who grew up together that can be witnessed between the men. In practised ISL (Indian Sign Language) they share jokes about things recent and from the past that makes you feel right at home in their presence. Bonus, their welcoming hospitality includes delicious madeleines to sample.

Meet the Team

(L-R) Rajesh Roy, Raja Mohan Das, Sanjay Sarkar, Ashok Chettri, Raju Das and Somnath Sardar | Aatreyee Mohanta

Sanjay Sarkar

Sanjay Sarkar putting madeleines in the oven | Shuktara Cakes

Sarkar by the team. Now, the 28-year-old is a dedicated baker at Shuktara Cakes. Sanjay always has a smile and a cheery disposition, and he’s often the one who takes the new boys who come to Shuktara under his wing. Sanjay lives independently now with his lovely wife Munni, who also has the same disability, and their five-year-old daughter, Sumi.

Raja Mohan Das

https://www.instagram.com/p/B0VGmallq-O/

Raja has been under Shuktara’s care since 2006 when he was 15. Raja studied at the Oral School for the Deaf where he learned to sign, and is a keen painter with a love for cars and motorbikes. With the highest levels of confidence, 28-year-old Raja is a successful part of the team. He married Riya, who is also hearing imparied, in 2014 and is father to six-year-old Oindrila. 

Rajesh Roy

https://www.instagram.com/p/BnI0I08lxri/

Rajesh became a part of the Shuktara family in 2006. He is the shyest of the lot but has a warm smile that will make your day. He came to the home without a name, and from a list of options picked “Rajesh” and “Roy”. From a mischievous child with a keen desire to learn, he has become a strong pillar of the family. He joined the bakery in 2017, after he finished school at the nearby Pragati School. Knowing that his diagnosis of Usher syndrome might eventually lead to blindness has not put a damper in the enthusiasm with which the 25-year-old takes on his responsibility in the team.

(L-R) Raju Das and Ashok Chettri | Shuktara Cakes

Raju Das

One of the most enthusiastic members of the team is 25-year-old Raju. He was born in the roadside slums of Kalighat and was cared for by his grandmother, before he became a part of the Shuktara family. Raju has cerebral palsy, but that doesn’t dampen his spirits one bit and he dreams of using his baking skills to have his own bakery one day. He is speaking and his first language is Bengali, but Raju is also one of the best sign language interpreters in the house. He cherishes his independence and is extremely proud of the phone he bought for himself with his earnings from the bakery.

Ashok Chettri

Ashok was brought to the home by an Irish nurse in 2003, when he was just 11 years old. He chose the 15th April for his birthday because it is the Bengali New Year. He is now 31 years old and has volunteered himself to work at the bakery. Having cerebral palsy his movements and speech is restricted, but he understands Hindi, English and Bengali and uses ISL to communicate. He has a great sense of humour, and also likes to turn the music really loud to dance and show off to the people he likes. He is the one always making jokes in the bakery and working harder than everyone else.

Madeleines fresh out of the oven at Shuktara Cakes’ bakery | Aatreyee Mohanta

Everyone knows about the baked treats that Shuktara Cakes makes, but it is truly a revelation to meet the team behind it. Visits to NGOs and establishments run by charities can often be an overwhelming experience, wrapped in feelings of sympathy, but meeting the team at Shuktara Cakes is different. Their confidence in their skin unknowingly urges you to look past their struggle and see the inspirational, independent men they have become. 

(Shuktara Cakes is known for their madeleines and financiers which they bake fresh when they receive an order. You can order cakes from Shuktara by contacting Somnath Sardar at +91 98743 49175.)


by Aatreyee Mohanta | Published 22.11.21 | Click here to read the original article.

Shuktara Cakes article in Times of India

Shuktara Cakes in Times of India!

HAVE YOU MET THESE YOUNG SPECIALLY ABLED BAKERS YET?

Jun 19 2017 : The Times of India (Kolkata) - by Amita Ghose

A group of specially abled youngsters are giving city bakers a run for their money

Times of India article about Shuktara Cakes - June 2017

We know it as the morning star - the companion of light that has always held a special place in cultures across the world. And now, the Shuktara is spreading light in a different way - by empowering a group of young, differently abled men who run a bakery by that name in Behala. For these six energetic youngsters, baking is not just a source of livelihood, it's a way of life. And that's exactly what we felt when we met them recently. Read on...

THE SIX MUSKETEERS

The bakery was established in 2013 and is currently run by Raju Das, Bapi Das, Ashok Chhetri, Sanjay Sarkar, Pinku Das and Suman Goswami - all aged between 20 and 30 and inmates of an NGO's residential training centre for differently abled street kids. "Raju, Ashok, Pinku and Sanjay are the oldest employees of the bakery; Bapi joined a bit later and Suman has joined recently. They are given responsibilities in accordance with their abilities and no one is pressurised to do anything; they work at their own pace," said Somnath Sardar, the manager of Shuktara Cakes, who joined the team three and a half years ago.

And it's quite a team. While Sanjay looks after the outdoor work, Pinku, Bapi and Raju take care of the baking and mixing and Ashok and Suman manage the packaging and cleaning.

THE FRENCH CONNECTION

Nagendra Mishra, the chairman of the NGO that brought the boys up, told us that the bakery was the brainchild of French restaurateur Alain Cojean and pastry chef Fabien Rouillard. He said the latter also trained the boys to bake French specialties. "In just 10 weeks, the boys transformed into amazing bakers! We feel so proud of them. Now we deliver cakes to different cafés and also take special orders. But we deliver only on against advance booking, as we don't want to put too much pressure on the boys," he added.

All the boys are paid salaries in accordance with the importance of their duties and responsibilities. They work between five and six hours every day. "In summer, they work for five hours, as the number of orders is less. They get to work at 8 am sharp and continue till noon or 1 pm. But in winter, especially ahead of Christmas, business picks up and the boys have to work a bit more to meet the increased demand," Somnath told us.

A SLOW RISE

Speaking about the hiccups they had while setting up the bakery, Nagendra told us that the original plan was to set up a cafe. "But we had to step back because of various logistical issues. Moreover, when we opened the bakery , a number of five-star hotels and established hoteliers promised help, but all of them backed out later. Then we thought of delivering cakes against advance orders and thankfully, we now have twothree permanent clients along with party and event orders," he said. "The growth is slow and we're still not making profits, but the smiles on the faces of the boys keep us going. Sanjay is now married and lives in a rented house with his family. We also want the same to happen with the other boys," Nagendra added.

Shuktara Cakes article by the Times of India
Shuktara Cakes article in the Times of India

THE TEAM

Pinku Das
Shuktara Cakes
He has been deaf since birth and became an inmate of the home when he was 10. Pinku, who loves maths and drawing architectural designs, is known to be the most dependable member of the team. And when he's not baking, he can spend an entire day watching cartoons.

Ashok Chhetri
Shuktara Cakes
The self-proclaimed naughtiest of the lot, Ashok was brought to the home in 2003 by an Irish nurse working in a mental asylum in Kolkata. He was wrongly diagnosed for a good part of his early years and is actually a victim of cerebral palsy. And although he has limited mobility, it doesn't stop him from going about life with vigour. In fact, the intelligent and fiercely independent boy refuses help of any kind and pity angers him. He can't speak, but can use sign language and understands English, Hindi and Bengali.

Suman Goswami
Shuktara Cakes
He was just 10 when he was brought to the home. And now, Suman works at the bakery and looks after the packaging station as he's physically challenged and needs help to move around. Known for his soft and polite nature, Suman is an effective worker at the bakery.

Raju Das
Shuktara Cakes
Born on a pavement near Kalighat, Raju's grandmother took care of him after his mother passed away and father abandoned them. He has cerebral palsy and severe disability in both legs. As a child, he would crawl under cars and onto the street, endangering his life. When brought to the NGO's home, he could not walk or talk. But now, after completing his preliminary studies, he's doing extremely well at the bakery, despite his handicap.

Sanjay Sarkar
Shuktara Cakes
He was brought to the NGO at the age of nine in April 2000 and no one knows anything about his background or family. Sanjay, who is deaf and communicates using sign language, has always wanted to have a family of his own. And in 2015, his wish became true when he married Munni. The couple now has a girl, Sumi.

Bapi Das
Shuktara Cakes
He's the laadla of the group, as he's a very matured and amicable despite having a severe hearing impairment. He was brought to the home as a child after the workers of an NGO found him moving around Howrah station.He can now communicate effectively using sign language, is good in studies and really proficient in using computers.

Click here to read the original article in the Times of India.

shuktara home for young adults with disabilities - 2017 January - Raju in the sea

Shuktara Cakes holiday in Mandarmani

More photos of the Shuktara Cakes holiday in Mandarmani

shuktara home for young people with disabilities - 2016 July - Ashok, Alain Cojean & Raju

Alain Cojean visits shuktara

We were surprised and thrilled to see Alain Cojean at shuktara over the Bastille Day holiday. It was Alain's idea to start Shuktara Cakes and he has been committed to the Shuktara Cakes Training Centre since the very beginning.

We appreciate that Alain took time from his busy schedule to visit us and for the books and gifts he brought from Paris for all of the young people of shuktara.

Read more about how Shuktara Cakes started...