Meet Filza Mehmood, The Creative Mind Behind Islamabad’s Home-Baked Goodness: Four Pounds
Tell us a little about yourself and your journey as a baker?
I am 24-years-old and have recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Yes, I know it sounds a bit bewildering -- economics and pastry don’t really go together, but I have always believed that one should never let go of one’s passion. So here I am. My journey as a baker is filled with beautiful experiences -- it’s as if I was made for this. I started off baking at a very young age. I still remember assisting my sister in the kitchen and trying to hold the electric beater while standing on a stool. After that, I was just taking one step after another, ceaselessly experimenting in the kitchen, improving and polishing my skills and achieving little milestones along the way.
What inspired you to start Four Pounds?
My inspirations are derived from my failures. Same was the case with Four Pounds. All it took was one night of an existential crisis and I knew right there and then, that to achieve my future endeavours, I must let go of all my fears and take the leap of faith.
Describe your most challenging baking project. How did you overcome it?
I am literally getting goose-bumps right now. That one cake was a nightmare. I was new into this business, it was the first time I was moulding chocolate and to top it all off, it was probably the hottest day of the year (hence, the worst day to work with buttercream). I worked for straight 14 hours on a half birthday cake and right before the delivery time, my chocolate topper (which was the main element) decided to break. As far as I remember It was only God who helped me through that, because I still can’t comprehend how I managed to fix everything.
Are you self-taught? How long have you been baking for?
It’s going to be a bit unfair if I say that I am completely self-taught. I learned a lot from my elder sister and then eventually during early teenage years I took baking classes from my mother’s best friend. After that it was all YouTube and experimentation. Like I’ve mentioned before, I have been baking for as long as I can remember. I was probably seven or eight years old when I baked my first cake.
What is something that you think people don’t realize that goes into baking/cooking professionally?
The effort! Not just physically, but mentally as well. This profession requires sleepless nights, creative thinking, constant innovation and so much more.
Describe your style of baking in three words.
Simple, aesthetic and innovative.
How do you organize, plan and prioritize your work in the baking profession?
It is all about creating a good work breakdown structure. You divide your product into different components, start off with the elements that can stay fresh for the longest time and shed a few tears along the process at times to relieve some of the stress (just kidding).
You work all by yourself, what happens if you get overbooked and have too many orders going at one time?
One thing I have been adamant upon is to never overbook, even though I absolutely despise turning down an order. I feel like if I bite up more than I could chew, it will only affect the quality of my product and that is something I can never compromise on.
How do you think you are able to stand out among your competitors?
My signature fudge sauce does that job for me.
What skill would you say is most important for you to have in your line of work?
Along with being extremely patient and calm, you need to possess extremely good managerial skills and the ability to make quick rational decisions.