Often the toughest times bring the brightest smiles, and who better than Tasheen Rahimtoola to talk about it with us? The 25-year-old Mumbai girl, who started her career in finance, has always been passionate about food, and believes in celebrating every milestone and occasion. Fortunately, the pandemic gave her the courage to work towards something that brought a smile on her face every morning. Witness Taste Retreat, a first-of-its-kind luxury brand that promises personalised and unique gourmet food experiences. The brand is a one-stop-shop for all food experience needs which curates custom food gifting experiences, party menu consultations, unique corporate gifting, comprehensive food consultancy services, and a lot more.
In conversation with You & I, the food connoisseur gives us a glimpse into her journey. Read on!
How did you shape Taste Retreat?
While working as a financial analyst, I realised I was good at it but I was not passionate about it. But food has always been something I’ve been driven about. Over the years, I became the “go-to person” for food, drinks, and all things chic for my family and friends. During the lockdown, I really wanted to do something I loved. So I thought of Taste Retreat, where we first curated menus for gifting. Fifteen to twenty people helped me then, and now we can proudly say we have 100-150 people on board, including chefs, restaurateurs, and bakers, among other vendors.
Different places are known for different specialties, and I realised I can curate a menu from the best of the best and can mix and match. I pick my favourites from different people, and I have curated different flavours with them as well. For all the fitness enthusiasts, we have two nutritionists on board who can customise the order based on the calorie count provided. Additionally, personal touches are given to each product right from the messages to the hues of the boxes; every element complements the vibe and personality of the receiver.
Having launched just a couple of months ago, what was it that led you towards success?
It’s my passion; I got a gateway to just explore. I always put my all in whatever I do. Starting a business during COVID isn’t an easy thing to do; everything looks rosy and fun on Instagram, but there’s a lot of blood, sweat and stress that goes behind. There have been down days, but having a supportive team is what matters at the end of the day, and I believe these challenges always bring opportunity to grow.
What inspires your unique concepts and ideas?
You get inspiration from people you’re closer to. I first create what I like and then some people suggest a few things and we work on that; it’s constantly evolving.
We were one of the first in the Indian market to introduce interactive cakes such as the Spotify scanning cake, which allows the customer to scan the barcode to play music. Then there was the Lakme Fashion Week Cake, which had a QR code on it that could be used as entry passes for Lakme Fashion Week.
What excites you the most about your work?
The challenge excites me the most; I want people to challenge me. When they come every week wanting new food, I love it.
During the pandemic, my grandmother wanted me to create something for her 75th birthday. When I asked her, “Nani do you want something simple?” she replied, “Are you crazy, I want a high-tea from London!” So I curated a menu which included Ben’s giant’s cookies, TR’s Cipriani cakes, a fondant-themed Alice in Wonderland cake with mechanics and lights, jam-filled brioches, Queen Elizabeth’s fruit scones, and a lot more. It took a lot of hard work but when I went there and saw those ladies smile, it just made my day. I thought, this is it! I am going to give someone a reason to smile.
If you had to pick one of your favourites from your menu, what would it be?
It’s definitely my cereal box, which I recently launched in three different flavours. I have been seizing on this concept ever since I moved to Mumbai. I have been trying to find the best vendor, as it’s a hit or a miss, and today I feel I have hit it. The box consists of cereal milk, cereals and chocolate cereal cookies; it takes me back to my college days in New York.
A lot of people have asked me about it. No matter if people know it or don’t, they are interested in it, and that’s what I want to tap into. I think this is one of the most exciting things I have done so far. – as told to Srivalli