This little-known dining place is Mysore’s most delicious, healthy secret

Credit: vogue.in







data-cycle-speed="600"
data-cycle-timeout=0
data-cycle-swipe=true
data-cycle-slides="> div"
data-cycle-auto-height=container
data-cycle-log=false
data-cycle-prev=".story-210495-m-1952494998-p"
data-cycle-next=".story-210495-m-1952494998-n"
data-cycle-caption="#story-210495-m-1952494998-c"
data-cycle-caption-template="{{slideNum}}/{{slideCount}}">
samshem
Chef Sam Shem

Image: Danielle Tsi

rawvanillacheesecake
Raw vanilla cheesecake

Image: Barbara Suss

veganchocolatetofutart
Vegan chocolate tofu tart

Image: Manuel Ferreira


You’ve heard about it via the grapevine from your seriously ripped Ashtangi friends while they casually throw their legs over their shoulders. Sting, Madonna and more recently Chris Martin have all stood in line outside this shala to be assisted with their backbends. The guru (or rather grandson of the original guru) is so media shy and secretive that they almost don’t say his name (kind of like Voldemort, but in a good way). I’m talking about KPJAYI (K. Pattabhi Jois Ashtanga Yoga Institute), the famed Ashtanga school in Gokulam, Mysore. And Gokulam was where I happened to find myself, not to practice yoga but to do an ayurvedic nutrition course.


Most of the students in the nutrition course were Ashtanga practitioners looking to broaden their culinary and ayurvedic perspective and that’s when I first heard about Saturday Sweets. Like all things in Gokulam, this too was pretty underground. Apparently, the Ashtangi who was whipping up some mean vegan desserts used to be a pastry chef at The Four Seasons in Vancouver and Toronto. The line of yogis outside his teacher’s yoga studio, which is converted into a kitchen and dining area on Saturdays, was so long that usually by 12.30pm everything was sold out. The Facebook group was closed and for members only.


Totally intrigued and also because I was yet to taste a raw or vegan dessert that didn’t taste like cardboard, I asked one of the students if I could come and help with the prep and also meet this mysterious pastry chef, Sam Shem.


Yogi food

As I walked into an unassuming house, I was handed a fork and asked to mash a mountain of bananas for the vegan banana bread. Shem looked totally relaxed and in command of his little troop of yogi workers, some who had been chefs in their previous avatars (one had even worked for Alice Waters!). As we cooked and chatted about yoga, travel and the best way to core cabbage, Sam casually commented, “This is why I stopped being a professional pastry chef.”


Shem, from Vancouver, Canada, the chef behind Saturday Sweets, actually went to art school prior to his adventures in patisserie. Both his parents were chefs and maybe because of that subconsciously all his artwork installations ended up using food materials. He would make sculptures out of cotton candy and fondant icing and use rice and mint for his artwork. It was while he was studying for his Masters in London, that Shem first came across ashtanga yoga, which would later play a very important role in his life.


“Quit your job, buy a ticket.”

Back in Vancouver, he decided to go to pastry school while continuing to teach art part-time at Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design. He worked at fine-dining restaurants, fancy hotels, bakeries and even a stint at Whole Foods for a good ten years till 2010 when he decided to, as the famous Instagram meme goes, “Quit his job, buy a ticket, get a tan, never come back” or in his case, get into supta kurmasana and never come back.


While practicing and later assisting Saraswathi Jois (daughter of Pattabhi Jois), Shem started casually baking and making desserts for friends till the demand got out of control. He then decided to start Saturday Sweets so everyone could get their sweet fix all at once and enjoy their cheat day with some treats (traditionally ashtangis don’t practice on Saturday). Cooking in Mysore meant cooking for people with “all these different requirements, vegan, gluten free etc”. For Shem, this was a really interesting challenge and as someone who loves “problem solving” he decided to dive straight into RnD for this new way of cooking.


“It made me excited about pastry in a totally different way!” says Shem as he explains further, “It was a totally different clientele from my fine-dining days because these people were actually concerned about what they were consuming that made me more aware of how I was cooking and what I was sourcing!”


Unlikely treats

Today Saturday Sweets is really the stuff of legend. When I went the day after my banana mashing exertions, I saw not only the crazy line of people outside and inside the house but the insane amounts of food that lay on the table (six types of cakes: two raw, two vegan, two “regular”, two types of bread cakes and a lunch of Japanese orientation that looked ridiculously healthy). And I can officially say, once I tried the vegan lemon cheesecake, I will never mock vegan desserts again!


“I have met a lot of interesting people while travelling and in Mysore who have had similar journeys and who are a little tired of the nine-to-five life and that keeps me really inspired,” says Shem, while dishing out slices of his Raw Matcha Cheesecake and Raw Lemon Coconut Dream Bar to blissed out, happy, healthy yogis and I think to myself that this must be some really good karma he is clocking up.


The post This little-known dining place is Mysore’s most delicious, healthy secret appeared first on VOGUE India.


Top Stories

Travel Habits of Americans: 42 Percent Aren’t Taking a Vacation This Summer

Unless there's a flood of last-minute vacation planners who will book trips in the coming days, weeks or months, many U.S. travelers are saying that they're hunkering down for another summer of little to no time away from the office. -Dan Peltier
  • 1 day ago
  • 14

What Ctrip Looks For When Buying Other Companies

Zhou's comments point to more deals for companies outside China, similar to the one for Skyscanner, and with plenty of money to spend it looks like it could be a very busy few years. -Patrick Whyte
  • 1 day ago
  • 12

Wellness Executives Question Hotel Chains’ Capabilities in the Sector

Everyone in hospitality, it seems, is focusing on more wellness offerings, whether through mergers and acquisitions, partnerships, or enhanced programming — but what do the wellness vets think? Does this trend have staying power or is it just a fad? -Deanna Ting
  • 1 day ago
  • 12

Air Canada Reverses Course, Leads the Charge to Bring Loyalty Back In-House

There was a trend over the last few years for airlines to try to spin off their loyalty programs into ... Read More
  • 19 hours ago
  • 10

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s stylist talks about that giant Michael Cinco gown

Aishwarya Rai Bachchan went to Cannes, hit the red carpet like a pro, had a mother-daughter style moment and she is back. Each year the actor travels to the French Riviera to represent L’Oréal as a global ambassador and her sartorial choices on the red carpet become talking points for days after. We spoke Rai […] The post Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s stylist talks about that giant Michael Cinco gown appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 17 hours ago
  • 9
farawayyachtingcharters - Easy Branches
botoxfillerveintheraphyinphuket - Easy Branches

Latest in Travel

Long-Delayed Baha Mar Resort Is Finally Open, But Atlantis Isn’t Worried

Well, that only took a few years. It'll be interesting to see how tourism to the Bahamas changes now that the long-beleaguered mega resort has finally opened. -Deanna Ting
  • 25 minutes ago

Travel Tech CEO Series: SITA Rethinks the Passenger Experience

Airlines and airports own SITA, but the two groups are at odds over who controls passenger data. New CEO Barbara Dalibard shows signs of having enough finesse to keep the company unified. -Sean O'Neill
  • 25 minutes ago

Where UK Political Parties Stand on the Big Tourism Issues

Party manifestos should be treated with a healthy degree of skepticism. Still it is revealing to see who what they priorities are and perhaps more importantly what they decide to leave out. -Patrick Whyte
  • 1 hour ago

Airbnb’s Latest Role Is Destination Marketing for Sweden

Sweden is in a unique position to tell a story that few other countries can. While Airbnb may be able to build a new revenue stream in destination marketing, it's also interested in getting bookings from its listings in the country. -Dan Peltier
  • 1 hour ago

Chefs+Tech: Tech and Dining by the Numbers, According to OpenTable

Robots aren't going to take over restaurants, ever (you heard it here first) — but tech is creeping into every aspect of dining out, and OpenTable's report proves consumers aren't afraid of it. -Kristen Hawley
  • 2 hours ago

Video: TUI’s CMO on Growing an Established Brand in a Fragmented Market

TUI Group has a big job on its hands during its move away from country-specific brands, but the prize is a substantial one. If it manages to create a global superbrand it will make it much easier to expand into new areas and markets. -Patrick Whyte
  • 2 hours ago

Brazil May Have the World’s Biggest Destination Marketing Potential

The highest gap between potential in tourism in the world and what's been realized so far is Brazil. Despite obstacles, better marketing and more private-public coordination could boost visitors. -Sean O'Neill
  • 5 hours ago

Hotel Union Questions Anbang’s Motives During Contract Negotiations

It was probably for the best that Anbang didn't wind up triumphing over Marriott to buy Starwood, especially given the confusing nature of its ownership structure. -Deanna Ting
  • 6 hours ago

Japanese Tourism Could Be Boosted If Foreign Casino Construction Is Okayed

Japan is loosening its laws around foreign casino ownership. But it needs to coordinate its strategy if it wants to woo Las Vegas Sands, MGM, and other companies to build resorts that might rival Macau in popularity. -Sean O'Neill
  • 7 hours ago

Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones Offer Travelers 30-Hour Battery Life [First Look]

Join Vagabondish on Twitter and Facebook. With 30+ hours of playtime on a single charge, the Marshall Mid Bluetooth headphones are a solid personal audio choice for travelers. The post Marshall Mid Bluetooth Headphones Offer Travelers 30-Hour Battery Life [First Look] appeared first on Vagabondish.
  • 12 hours ago

Cathay Cuts 600 Jobs as It Tries to Get Costs Under Control

It might please investors to cut jobs but Cathy Pacific's problems run much deeper. It needs to work out where it fits in an airline environment that is rapidly changing. -Patrick Whyte
  • 14 hours ago

Six skincare rules everyone should follow

Before you even consider reaching for your foundation or swiping on some mascara, it’s important to be confident and happy with your canvas – your skin. Our skin care needs and problems are totally unique to us but one thing is for certain: if you’re not looking after your skin it is going to be […] The post Six skincare rules everyone should follow appeared first on VOGUE India.
  • 16 hours ago