The Sisterhood Of The Messmans

Man's World|May 2020

The Sisterhood Of The Messmans
Meet Kainaz Messman Harchandrai and Tina Messman Wykes, the founders of Theobroma, and the people behind making the brownie a reality in the Indian dessert scene
Samreen Tungekar

When Kainaz Messman was nursing herself back from a slip disc injury in 2003, little did she know that in a year, she and her entire family, will end up taking their dessert-for-dinner dishes from their Colaba kitchens to counters that would run out of sweet treats within no time. Even the name of the patisserie, Theobroma, was food for thought. After going through various versions of combining their names, a sugar broker at the firm Tina Messman Wykes was working at in London, suggested calling the newfound business the food of gods. And in 2004, Theobroma was born.

So yes, everyone from Mumbai who has ever carried a box of Theobroma brownies to a different city (The Delhi people still tend to forget they finally have Theobroma), it was in this family of four that your favourite brownie originated.

15 years after Messman Harchandrai, the chef, became Messman Harchandrai the entrepreneur, she and her sister have finally penned a book, Baking A Dream: The Theobroma Story, that’s more like an outpouring of a genuine dream come true. The Messman sisters discuss their journey, their hits and misses, and since everyone’s becoming a chef during quarantine, they give an insight into baking your own brownies too.

Your book says you grew up wrapping chocolates. Was dessert a passion that eventually became a profession?

Often, when Dad travelled on business, Mum and us had dessert for dinner. We went through recipe books and picked out things we wanted to eat. Mum baked and we made a meal of it. If time was short, we bought a few different ice cream flavours, made tall sundaes and ate that instead. We always looked forward to these dessert extravaganzas. Using this as our inspiration, we started Theobroma, primarily as a dessert destination.

And what do you think made Theobroma tick with people on its opening day itself, and every day since?

Simple quality. Products that are made in our kitchen are like they would be in yours. Nothing is fancy or pretentious. Our quality has remained consistent. We make the things we like to eat ourselves. There is a ‘like it used to be’ appeal to our products.

Your brownie recipe was born in your small Colaba kitchen. How did that happen?

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May 2020