Tucked away along a lane in Caranzalem is a smallish patisserie that most seductively calls the name of every bread lover in town. Padaria Prazeres, established in April 2021, has an array of different types of bread plus savouries and sweet items on its menu, which one can enjoy in the comfortable environs of the café while drinking in the aroma of freshly baked loaves.
A Cordon Bleu-trained hot kitchen chef, Ralph Prazeres always had an interest in baking and patisserie creations. Even as he worked his way through various restaurants, he would learn as much as he could from the baking and patisserie sections. He says, ‘The way restaurants work abroad is that you have to assist any section, be it pastry, grill or garde manger, whichever needs a hand. You could be put in any section the next day, and we would have to do it. Baking and patisserie were always something I enjoyed working with. So whenever I had some free time I went over to learn.’
Ralph, who has worked at some well-known restaurants such as Rosewood London, Clos Maggiore, Bao, Foley’s, Pidgin and St John Bread and Wine in the UK, and Noma in Copenhagen, credits his Cordon Bleu training in London for the success he has experienced in his chosen field. He says, ‘I feel they give young chefs the right ammunition needed to go out and take on the industry. They teach you basic techniques the right way.’
Of his experience working abroad, Ralph says, ‘It’s a completely different ball game altogether. It’s a very professional and serious environment. You can either learn a lot by putting in the effort or leave the industry completely due to the long hours and hard working conditions.’
Wife Stacy Gracias plays an important role in Padaria Prazeres with her extensive background in finance coming into play. Having worked in London with companies like Rothschild and Co, RBS and HSBC, Stacy now forms an ideal partnership with Ralph on the business front as she handles the front-of-house operations, marketing, inventory and accounts.
Tastefully decorated with indoor and outdoor seating, the café serves roast chicken sandwiches, garlic cream cheese and smoked salmon cream cheese bagels, cheese and jalapeño Berliners and more. Berliners are German doughnuts made from sweet yeast dough, sans a central hole. The sweet Berliners have fillings such as dark chocolate, custard and Bailey’s ganache. Other sweet offerings are pastéis de nata, cinnamon sugar and glazed doughnuts, madeleines, carrot and banana cakes, and date and walnut loaf.
The French palmier, which consists of a number of flaky layers, coated with sugar and baked, and the financier, another French creation, which is a bite-size almond cake, are both unusual additions to treat the Goan palate.
Bread connoisseurs will love the boulangerie spread, which includes baguettes, ciabatta, brioche, milk chocolate brioche, garlic butter knots, and focaccia among others.
A combination of savouries and sweet pastries can be enjoyed with a selection from the coffee menu or some juice.
Commenting on the choices for his menu, Ralph says, ‘It’s mostly the things that I’ve either done or seen during my time abroad. I’m not reinventing the wheel in any way, but we try keeping things as simple and classic as possible.’
The exceedingly flavourful pastéis de nata and the delicious bread baked at Padaria Prazeres are much-in-demand products on the menu. ‘Pastel de nata has been one of the most moving products so far, along with our bread. We make all our products fresh and pastéis to order. You cannot beat fresh bread done properly and a pastel straight out of the oven. I think the quality of ingredients and freshness are the main reasons people come to us.’
Padaria Prazeres offers private catering and has had Christmas and Easter specials to keep their customers engaged. They have also begun pop-ups in other parts of the country, taking their food to people outside Goa. ‘At the moment we want to tour India doing pop-ups around the country. We’re still trying to figure out our next steps but nothing concrete yet,’ says Ralph.
Ralph decided to return to his home state despite his achievements abroad. He explains, ‘I always wanted to bring back what I’ve learnt abroad. There’s so much talent leaving Goa, but hardly anyone comes back. That’s why I wanted to come back, so we could make a difference and show young chefs that there is scope to work and grow back home.’
Location: Models Celeste, Opp. Celebrity, Caranzalem, Panjim, Goa – 403002
Must try: smoked salmon cream cheese bagel and pastéis de nata
Contact: (+91) 93228 06130
Open on: Tuesday – Sunday, 9.00 am – 6.30 pm