Many home bakers have been slowly building a sweet empire for themselves in Goa. The variety which is now available in Goa is sure to make those tastebuds twerk. Goa-based mental health professional, Trisha Almeida, a full-time psychologist, and a part-time baker conceptualized Sugar Junkie during the onset of the COVID pandemic. She decided to put her baking skills to the test and on realizing the potential in the small snack and cupcake line, she decided to turn her hobby into a profession.
Trisha believes that being a foodie can be somewhat therapeutic. Sugar Junkie also deals with a variety of confectioneries ranging from brownies to tea-time snacks. The Goan savories give a sprinkle of fairy dust to the local cravings of the people around. Bearing in mind a healthy lifestyle, she has also introduced whole wheat items to the menu.
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At Goan Insider, we sat down with Trisha to learn about her journey. The excerpts of our conversation are below.
Tell us about you and how Sugar Junkie was born. Did you have previous work or study experience as a baker?
I am Trisha Almeida a full-time psychologist and a part-time Baker born and brought up in Goa residing in Porvorim. Exploring different cuisines and later trying to reinvent them has always been my passion. As a kid, I was told stories about my grandmother, an amazing Baker and I believe that’s what triggered the baker in me. Baking has always been therapeutic for me and helps me relax.
As you are a mental health professional, how & when did you decide to start baking & ultimately, take up baking professionally? Was there a specific incident?
At the beginning of the lockdown, during the Dalgona coffee and banana bread days when everyone was busy trying to bring out the baker/chef in them by trying out new stuff I thought maybe I could do the same as I had a lot of time on my hands. Thus, after multiple failed attempts and experiments I finally decided to start Sugar Junkie on the 21st of June 2020.
I had undergone a summer course in baking 6 years ago when I was in college, though that was just for fun. I had never dreamt then that I would start up Sugar Junkie, later in my life.
How supportive was your family when you told them about your plans to take up a food business i.e. Sugar Junkie?
I prefer holding both professions simultaneously, that is, as a psychologist and a baker. I am a full-time college counselor at V.M. Salgaoncar Law College, Miramar-Goa, and a part-time home baker. I wouldn’t give up one for the other as both are close to my heart. My family has been really supportive and happy about my decision.
Do you have a professional mentor?
To be honest, my professional mentor would be YouTube and not any individual.
How do you stay up to date with the latest trends in cakes?
I stay up-to-date with the latest trends in cakes by watching videos and experimenting on the same.
How do you plan and prioritize your work?
I need to juggle between work and baking (getting the orders done on time) so a lot of planning and prioritizing takes place.
We, as psychologists, are known to help people plan and prioritize so it isn’t a big deal for me!
Though, I request my customers to order at least 48 hours in advance. I am unable to entertain on the spot orders as I need to plan my day accordingly. As I mentioned earlier, I work in the morning and get back and bake.
Have you ever developed or improved a recipe? How did you do it and how did your customers respond?
Yes I have. My Prawns Rissois, chocolate fudge Brownies, red velvet cake and cookies as well as the chocolate chunky cookies are the fastest selling items on the list. I get a lot of positive feedback from customers saying “it’s the best so far!”
Can you describe your most challenging project to date and how did you cope up or overcome it?
I started with limited items on the menu as I wanted to see the market response first. Hence I stuck to the basics like brownies, cookies, loaf cakes and cupcakes. I did not want to go all out with party cakes and other stuff. But then a customer insisted on baking a cake for her birthday. I was nervous about the outcome but time took it up as a challenge. It turned out fabulous! (P.S. The Red velvet Cake). That is when I decided to get cakes into the menu as well.
Even since that day she has been a regular buyer for that specific cake on every occasion.
How has the response of Goan’s been to Sugar Junkie?
Initially, it was slow but it started picking up. As the saying goes, ‘good things take time’. By the grace of God, ever since sugar junkie started, there hasn’t been a month where we haven’t received orders. I believe I can term that as a positive response from our fellow Goans.
What would you like to suggest to the people who aspire to enter the world of food business?
If you have the passion to start something and fear whether it will work or not, I would say, give it a shot. Either way, you won’t lose anything. Also, the food industry is one industry that will never let you down. People literally live to eat. So give your best to create something unique and tasty!
Where do you see Sugar Junkie in the next 4-5 years?
My main goal is to turn it into a cafe slowly and then later, maybe 5 to 8 years down the line I see sugar junkie growing as a franchise.
How can our readers stay connected with you or Sugar Junkie?
You can follow and connect with us on our Instagram account, Sugar Junkie.
Do you have a story to share with the world? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org