Uday Malhotra’s journey started way back in his childhood while growing up in a Joint family set-up where meals were generally eaten together. “From my Dadi making a curry out of leafy vegetables to my Nani’s best rajma chawal ever, there was so much food happening around, I found myself hovering around the kitchen many times during the day,” he remembered as his interests landed him to IHM-Aurangabad. As college began, he was exposed to the basics & then advanced cooking skills as he moved forward.
In 2017 when he was working at a 2 Michelin starred restaurant named “TERRA by Paco Perez”& saw things that he never could have imagined. “It was almost as if I had never really discovered my truest potential. That became a driving force for my learning days in TERRA and I started enjoying the profession way more than before because everything was just perfect, it had to be,” he pointed as these experiences made him a tough man to begin with and also very humble. Excerpts from the interview:
How it all began?
While I was doing food styling professionally, the creatively hungry man in me wanted to explore brand designing and brand management. I went to Florence, Italy to pursue my masters in brand design and management related to food, wine & tourism from IED College in February 2020. Now as we all know, the pandemic got the best of all of us at that time and Italy was shut down. My college had shut down within just 2 weeks of its commencement & I was stuck, paying heavy rents and sustaining myself for 4 more months until I flew back to India in a rescue flight.With so much fear and anxiety around things not working out, my college friend and now more like a brother & partner at KNEED , Arjun Sethi connected with me and proposed to me this idea to make healthy breads. As I was already baking them so much at home and the feedback had been great, we both started to work on an idea that would not only fuel my own passion for food that had been dying to come out in some or the other way, but also develop recipes which would be Vegan and would support the environment.
You both got exposure across the globe working with top chefs and hotels. What are the key learnings you are incorporating in Kneed from these experiences?
Learning experiences are something that happened to us every day and what I learned back in Spain and Mumbai was punctuality, sincerity, perfection& honesty. Without any of these, there are very sleek chances for as an aspiring Vegan brand to become admirable by the masses.
We see that the pandemic has given birth to so many bakery, home chefs. Why so?
The pandemic, while it has had its share of negatives, it has also given so much more time to people where they have explored some of the most great things about themselves. This has not only led them to invest in new things and hobbies but also to probably cook & bake something new with friends and family at home. With platforms like Youtube & Pinterest, there is hardly anything you can’t do or find that you could probably enjoy doing once in a while. You see, food unites us in ways that is almost magical & to convert that into something professional, it could be a dream come true for many who were clueless before or during the pandemic.
What’s the future of bakeries in India?
According to me, we are going to see a rise in health conscious bakeries in the coming time and moreover a drastic change in perception as to how we look at bakeries.
What are the different kinds of products available at Kneed? Is it freshly made daily or does it come with a shelf life?
We have a wide range of offerings at KNEED which range from artisanal breads, buns, panini’s, pull-apart breads, pita’s, hummus, stone-ground nut butters, spreadips ( Spread+dip) , granolas & bliss bars ( Energy bars ). Everything at KNEED is made fresh on order and not pre-stocked. It would defeat our purpose to make fresh clean food. Once we receive an order, we process it and deliver it the next day which carries a date of expiry which is different for each product.
Where do you source your ingredients from as we see that customers’ are growing their interest in locally sourced, sustainable products?
We are the happiest to see this wave of demand already grow, with people wanting to buy local. Locally sourced sustainable products are majorly free from chemicals and grown organically/ sustainably. We at KNEED follow the same values and source our products locally from different local brands & farmers markets that suit our requirements. Like our flour, the most important ingredient for any bakery, comes from TWF. Which is the world’s first flour company that provides unbleached & unadulterated premium flours which are ground fresh on order, based out of Noida, UP. Like this, we have tie-ups with Organic brands like Organic Tattva , Organic Pure & sure and so on to meet our daily KNEEDS.
What’s your expansion plan?
As of now, we are building awareness about KNEED and in the future, we are planning to venture out in Vegan experiential dining under the name of “THE KNEEDY TABLE” and also have an all-in one store for all artisanal bakery needs, from flours to tools and special equipment’s under the name of “KNEED ESSENTIALS”.