KARACHI: It’s the love of chocolate that made former squash champion Bushra Ali and Base Rock café musician Ali Rush open up a quaint little eatery in Khadda Market. The Riding Hood Bakery may be a few weeks old, but its cakes and savouries are already gaining popularity on social media networks.
The couple met in a karaoke bar in 2009, and were married and off for their honeymoon in Rome in less than three months. At Fontana Di Trevi, they realised that their solid appreciation for coffee and chocolate is the same. All of a sudden, while sipping coffee, Bushra asked Rush, “Why doesn’t the same stuff smell and taste exactly like this in Pakistan?” Her mate forlornly answers, “Something of a combination is always missing; sometimes it is the ambience at the coffee shop that is amiss; at times it’s the bakery items or products.”
Their next stop was Paris, where the couple was taken in by the creations and taste of the popular French patisserie Paul. To bring these flavours to Pakistan, they chalked out a plan which culminated in the The Riding Hood Bakery, two-and-a-half years later. While the name doesn’t have the word ‘red’ from the famed children’s story, the café itself is adorned in that particular colour. “Opening up a bakery is certainly not a piece of cake. The story behind the name is that in the fairy tale, Red Riding Hood fails to deliver the goodies to her grandmother, here we make sure we deliver them,” says Bushra.
By ordering authentic coffee beans from Italy; crèmes, frostings and cake mixes from the United States, and baking them here in Pakistan, the pair has introduced their Poutine, Hot Pockets and Ferrero Rocher Cake to Karachi.
Despite the quality and experience being offered, one can’t help but feel that the prices are higher than what other bakeries charge for their treats. Bushra, however, believes that the product is worth the price. “Our prices are worth the quality we are offering. Unlike other bakeries — that mix food colours, which are harmful for the health — we are a very health-conscious brand,” he says. “We offer vanilla and chocolate crème which has zero per cent trans-fat.”
Cheers to the future
Although the couple is being offered partnerships, Bushra stays adamant on keeping the project on a smaller scale. “My past experiences have taught me not to opt for joint ventures.”
When asked about their future plans, Rush shares, “We have something special planned for August 14.” He further adds that, “Besides the independence treats, the whole lot of Sesame Street characters, from Big Bird to Elmo, is going to be here soon. I even want to do Angry Birds.” The couple also chirpily adds that if the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) wins the elections, they will come up with an exclusive batch of goodies dedicated to the political party.
While talking about their motto, Bushra says, “Our goal is to be the Starbucks of Pakistan.”
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2012.