When a pastry chef goes retro: An interview with Chef Bani 

Chef Bani of Miam makes a case for rattan accents, Dutch ovens and an armchair in her kitchen

Chef Bani of Miam makes a case for rattan accents, Dutch ovens and an armchair in her kitchen

As the founder of Miam, the Delhi patisserie known for its Belgian dark chocolate and salted caramel cake, Chef Bani Nanda’s Instagram account has its share of baked treats. But the last two years have also been about creative tablescapes (now an expert at setting tables, she does brand collaborations) and recently, kitchen decor. Nanda, 31, has been collecting crockery for years, is a fan of Le Creuset’s Dutch ovens and has been saving up for the rounded vintage-style Smeg refrigerator she finally brought home a few months ago. Naturally, much thought was also given to the kitchen that housed the above, from ensuring it opens out onto the deck, to designing a custom-made open crockery cabinet and choosing instagrammable paint shades and tiles. Having designed both commercial and personal kitchens, she shares some of her lockdown discoveries and DIY tips for carpenters with us:

As a professional pastry chef, did your workplace influence your home kitchen?

Having designed three Miam kitchens so far, two of them being bigger and more professional, I learnt to plug in functionality and aesthetic. The Miam kitchen also taught me how to follow a pleasing colour palette.

Crockery cabinet

ALSO READ: What’s cooking? Creative spaces in the kitchen

The floor-to-ceiling display of your crockery wasn’t an overnight decision, was it?

I designed this cabinet with my friends who own furniture brand, Lap & Dado. They thought I was crazy when I asked them for an 8×8 ft cabinet. I wanted to keep it open so that I can admire my crockery collection. Glass doors ruin the experience! I clean the crockery cabinet every week and keep most of my everyday serveware and dinnerware in another kitchen inside.

What is often ignored when designing a ‘show’ kitchen at home?

Kitchens have to be super functional, but they can also have character. For example, my kitchen has a desk and an armchair and a few other ‘living room-ish’ elements like a carpet and lamps. It’s personal and that’s the touch people seem to ignore.

You discovered Bordallo Pinheiro two years ago. What are your favourite pieces?

I love their serving platters and tureens. They look like a heap of flora that brings life on the table. I love their lemon plates, too, and their pumpkin collection. The cabbage collection looks a bit out-there in photos, but is absolutely gorgeous in real life. I am saving up for some antique Finland Arabia [a Finnish ceramics brand].

Rattan cabinet

Rattan cabinet

Wood, rattan and pastel colours seem a constant. Could you expand on these choices?

I love rattan because it has been a part of urban Indian homes for decades and brings a sense of familiarity. Most people are leaning towards very modernistic and minimal interiors. New trends and materials are great but they also put age-old forms at the risk of being forgotten. Few people get hand-woven rattan done at home now. As for the pastel splashes, I prefer them because they’re soothing to the eye and give me plenty of room for styling sets.

What is upcycled in your kitchen?

All my wood is upcycled from previous cupboards, and I try and use plenty of sustainable materials like jute, cane, palm leaves etc.

Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Le Creuset Dutch Oven

Pretty cookware

Check out Potuhree, SRINIA ceramics, Meghalayan Age, Green Heirloom for cookware.

Indigenous cookware, especially earthen and bronze options, are great alternatives to Le Creuset cookware.

BBQ corner

You can always get smaller round barbecues that don’t take up a lot of space. Weber has them. If there is a space constraint, settle for only half the menu to be barbecued. The other half can be pre-prepared dishes.

Weber barbecue grill

Weber barbecue grill

Quick tips for Instagram

l Place lots of flowers everywhere

l Don’t use black granite as a surface. Black backgrounds aren’t the prettiest for photos. Keep the tone light!

l Get the fridge of your dreams

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