This is dessert heaven, delivered to your doorstep. Known for its mouthwatering desserts such as crêpes, waffles, pancakes, sundaes, and more, Crêpe-fe, a made for delivery concept founded by Shourrya Sachdeva prides itself in making everything in-house from bagel buns to batters, sauces to original gelatos.
What prompted you to pursue culinary studies at such a young age, right after school?
I always enjoyed being in the kitchen even as a kid, with the usual mother-son duo in the kitchen. My mom, at an early stage identified this passion of mine and supported my pursuit for hospitality studies to Switzerland.
What were the three most important things you learnt at Les Roches, Switzerland?
Firstly, the importance of discipline and how much of an impact it can make on what impression you leave and what impression you want to leave. Secondly, the value of using skills and talent to build upon your culinary and hospitality exposure. And lastly, managing an independent life, and learning to live in a certain profit-and-loss driven manner. Fun fact: the first time I ever sold food was in Switzerland in our uni. Since it was in an isolated village, Indian food basics were located within an over 100 km radius, and it was impossible to get good Indian food. So once on a weekend, we made and sold tikkas and butter chicken with rice that was the first ever income from sales in my life where we sold 10 butter chicken portions in one night for CHF 20 each.
About your India venture, why is the concept of hygiene and transparency so important to you, and I would add, the USP of your company?
It's very important to me because that is what motivated us to get into this industry in the first place. We are big foodies ourselves, and we were exploring the cloud kitchen model as customers and merchants to be, and we realized this is something that will change in India, especially starting with cloud kitchens and street food vendors where hygiene will be significantly more important factor for customers in times to come. Then of course Covid-19 happened, so the world itself started heading where we anticipated it would in terms of industry standards. A simple example: since the day we opened we have kept the use of gloves compulsory for everyone in the kitchen.
The name is interesting – Crêpe-fe – is it a play on words?
The logo came in my dreams, and the name is as simple as it suggests, Crêpe means that we specialize in crêpes and the word fe attached to it simply means the attachment of the word cafe, why that was done as the word cafe allows you to have the horizon applicability of multiple cuisines. Also the word fe was thought in lines with a much bigger dream of having brands such Crêpe-fe, Vegan-fe, Mughal-fe, so yes the -fe is the empire dream. Mughal-fe just launched about eight weeks ago.
Can you explain the growing importance of the cloud kitchen concept and how you have established a successful model?
The importance of growing repeat customers and their trust is key. We work on that by constantly focusing on feedback, innovation, and making improvements in our current sops in terms of improving speed and consistency of taste delivered. The boom in the cloud kitchen concept is simple low rents, and one can invest more innovations such as investing in digital marketing, packaging, and people, since in retail a big chunk is sucked up by rent and overheads.
And the idea of producing 100 vegetarian products – so all the waffles and crêpes and gelatos are eggless?
India has the most vegetarians in the world, so we were clear from day one that all products that can be mastered in a veg base we will do, so that we can have a wider horizon. We worked for about 15 days to convert our all initial egg-based batters to 100 percent vegetarian.
I was very impressed with the time and date stamp as well as the name and temperature of the delivery person. It is really well done! Do you do this for each order – and will you continue this even after the pandemic?
We will now do this till the time a vaccine is launched and accessible to people. We plan to make the process a bit more automated in the future where we are able to send all the information to the customer digitally through the mobile rather via than handwritten bills.
What made you delve into desserts – and what inspired you to start this brand?
I will list the reasons one by one. 1. The lack of focus and influence of the new cloud kitchen model that shows transparency from where the food is coming in terms of the kitchen, the brand, and the people behind it. 2. The lack of innovation and evolution done around a catered Western dessert, and how it can be reinvented for the delivery experience. 3. We started on 24 July 2017. We are India’s first brand to start a dessert delivery chain with the idea of doing something unique. We are the only ones brave enough, or you can say foolish enough – out of our minds – to start a dessert parlour as a delivery concept. 4. We took up the challenge of mastering high-end Western dessert comfort foods delivered straight to the customer's comfort zone. 5. On top of it, we intend to stay and maintain our reputation of being India’s most transparent food brand, where we allow you the customer, to question anything and everything. Simply speaking, nobody ever focused on desserts being made for delivery, so we decided to take that as a potential gap and dive right into it.
Are you only focusing on sweet or add savoury later?
We will be returning with our most loved savoury products of the past – Crêpe-fe bagels and croissants with gourmet-based Western and Indian fillings launching this mid-October.
We loved the waffles – with the toppings and chocolate sauce. How do you maintain such a high-quality waffle and what do you use for the Monella and chocolate sauce?
The waffle machine is from a family-based close-knit business in Brussels. We are the only ones in the country that have invested with them to bring these machines to India. The price of one machine is Rs 1 lakh. Normally, 99 percent of all waffle places use Rs 10,000 Chinese machines that give you triangle shaped, sluggish waffles.
We mainting daily batter quality checks, where it’s tested before a batch is sold. Our sauces are also tested daily. As for Monella, it’s a fully imported product from Italy, from one of the world’s finest hazelnut spread producers. It’s a pure hazelnut spread but the texture is very different from Nutella’s.
For the crêpe, what is your secret?
Our batter and our technique in terms of the machinery we use and the tools we use to spread the batter.
Your sundaes are incredibly tasty – again, what's your secret?
Our dedication to understanding what the majority of our customers will accept and enjoy, and our commitment to making great products for everyone, every single time.
Where do you get the recipes for the gelatos – and flavours like Oreo Cheesecake?
All thought of by Indian chefs, all local associates and the founder doing tonnes of R&D, with raw materials imported from Italy.
Will you offer more desserts?
Yes in the coming time we will be launching Crêpe Cakes and Cookie dough as it’s never been seen before for delivery.
Where do you currently deliver and where will you expand?
We deliver all over Gurgaon and the thought is to expand to Delhi and Noida soon. The dream is to go to tier-2 cities such as Dehradun.
How easy or difficult is it being a success in the online food delivery business?
It’s very difficult! I have been working for free for the past 1,700 days, and I am at it – if my only hope for success was defined by profit we would have shut shop a long time ago. It’s been hard for us to achieve good profitability due to the new challenges in the online business, especially commission and food apps. Nevertheless, we have been at it as we truly believe our product has potential – it’s unique since nothing like it exists out there. Furthermore, we take feedback very seriously and we are a non-defensive based customer hearing centric firm where we believe that with every feedback we get, we learn something. This way, we can improve our bread-giver’s experience. We live for feedback from our customers, and strive to improve so that the next time they truly feel better, and notice that we actually heard them out.
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A bit about me:
A luxury and fashion journalist with 25 years of experience in publishing and magazine journalism, I have edited some of India’s top fashion and luxury magazines. I got my BA in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley, and went on to receive my Master’s in English and French from the University of Strasbourg, France. I have also studied German and Film. I live in Gurugram, India, and look forward to once again exploring our world with a new-found freedom.
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