Nestled in the suburban heart of Jaipur in India, in the last place you would expect it, is a high-end French patisserie run by two sisters. Swati Rathore Borgohain and Sanyogita Rathore are the two brains behind O’Baque (pronounced like ‘bake’), which they built in their family home.
We always wanted to do something together,” Swati tells me.
“Opening our own bakery has been our dream for 10 years… Whatever we used to like, we kept saving on a Pinterest board, and we tried to incorporate all the elements of a cafe.”
And so, Swati and Sanyogita both quit their jobs (Sanyogita as a chef at award-winning hotel chain The Oberoi and Swati as a retail manager) to set up O’Baque.
“Last year, Sanyogita quit her job at the Oberoi, and I was also feeling a sense of detachment from my regular routine of my job and wanted more control over my work decisions,” Swati says.
“Quitting our jobs obviously gave us a sense of instability in terms of a monthly fixed income, but with our family’s support, we could take this leap of faith.”
With parts of the building having been constructed by the sisters’ grandfather, they didn’t want to just knock everything down and start again.
It took a lot of hard work and dedication, but the sisters were able to convert the garage, driveway, and some of the storage areas of their ancestral home into what is now O’Baque.
The sisters have managed to create a quaint and cosy space that retains the old-world charm of the original building while also breathing modern life into the bakery.
There is a 10-year age gap between the sisters, but typical sibling difficulties aren’t something that trouble Swati and Sanyogita, who is the younger of the two.
“I can be quite demanding as an elder sibling, but I feel that’s what brings out the best in her. We have our disagreements, but in the end our core values are the same, so we always find a solution,” says Swati.
“I think a sister is the best business partner to have. You have gone through so much in life together that you understand each other perfectly and have each other’s back always,” she continued.
And she’s not wrong. Together, the sisters have achieved great things, despite only opening in mid 2022. However, Swati says, the success of O’Baque is not just down to her and Sanyogita. The rest of their family has been an invaluable support.
“We are just two siblings. Our parents and my husband have been the wind beneath our wings. Launching the bakery without their support would have been impossible,” Swati says.
“We may be the face of the bakery, but they are our backbone in every possible way.”
They’ve only been open a short while, but that has been enough time for the duo to accrue a host of loyal fans and customers.
“The feedback has been great, and we have been growing very organically through word of mouth, which I think is very important in the food industry, rather than aggressive marketing tactics, which are useless if you aren’t consistent. Our mantra has been ‘good taste and consistency’.”
The European ‘vibe’ of the bakery matches up with the food being served there. Sanyogita, who trained in Baking and Culinary Arts at Bangalore’s Lavonne Academy of Baking Science and Pastry Arts, and her sister were inspired by their travels across Barcelona and Lisbon.
“People are really well travelled and are updated with all the latest food trends on Instagram,” Swati tells me, speaking about how the India taste palette has changed over the years.
“Our aim is to give the city the best desserts that they get a craving for. For instance, the petit gateau will have traditional flavours like chocolate, berries, etc., but the presentation will be like any authentic fresh patisserie.
“We sell all kinds of breads and pastries and few beverages. In November 2022, we launched a small curated menu of croissant sandwiches,” said Swati.
But this isn’t all for the sisters. There are many different things in the works for O’Baque.
“We also host small private events… We have many things in the pipeline—food events, baking classes, a gelato counter, a speakeasy wine bar,” Swati said.
“We have enough space—about 1,000sqm—so we will expand in that existing space. We will aim to salvage whatever existing construction we have, keeping in mind construction costs and sustainability.”
Ultimately, for Swati and Sanyogita, creating a beautiful bakery in their family’s home has been a dream come true.
“We want people to think of O’Baque and mark it off their checklist whenever they visit this beautiful mystic city of Jaipur.”