Mona and Shaineal Shah
Mona Shah and her 23-year old son Shaineal have been making waves in the confectionery business in New York. While Mona has excelled in making exotic cakes and mouth-watering desserts, Shaineal, along with his mother, has recently opened a small store in SoHo, NY from where he retails his increasingly well known gourmet chocolates under the brand name Xocolatti. Mona is married to Rajiv Madhukar Shah and is daughter of (Late) Saryu and Shri Jitendra C. Parikh.
Lifestyle magazine Vogue recently featured Mona as one of three Indian women “entrepreneurs whose ideas are shaking up New York”. The article said, “Her Jain desserts look like a dream, taste like heaven and cost the earth”.
A chocolate box from Xocolatti
Shah, whose only formal training in the field was a five-hour course in basic sugar-dough moulding at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education, takes orders for special one-of-a-kind cakes and desserts. Her range is very vast – she makes elaborate, elegant ones for weddings like one of her first which was a gold, red and orange 4.5 ft high five-tiered concoction inspired by a bride’s lehenga, spray-painted to mimic gold tissue, textured to resemble floral embroidery, highlighted with sugar pearls and topped with 150 sugar-dough orchids. Yet she also turns out cute ones for children like a Ratatouille children’s cake depicting the tiniest of details in sugar, and special creations like Sweet-16 cake that featured an edible embroidered pashmina shawl draped over a quilted ottoman.
Her son Shaineal, now 23-years old, has recently opened a special store for his chocolate brand Xocolatti, which he has been distributing through other retailers and online till now. The name is a creative twist that comes from the ancient Aztec word xocolātl, when it was believed that cacao was a food of the gods.
Shaineal initially began creating his delicacies from the kitchen of his family house in Scarsdale, but later moved production to a factory in Port Chester.
The store interior
A food writer described the new store as “a tiny little store that is impeccably and charmingly appointed. Three of the walls are filled with hundreds of their beautiful boxes with displays of their handmade creations interspersed throughout.….. The chocolates (and clusters, truffles, slates, crumbles, and sparks) are beautifully executed. Literal eye candy and the distinctive flavors are so subtle and nuanced it makes savoring each piece a joyful discovery for your taste buds.”
Many of the designs for the chocolates and cakes are inspired by the family’s India-based jewelry business (“including truffles that resemble plump gemstones, and slabs of chocolate called “slates,” flecked with pistachios and rose petals or mango and paprika”). There is also a careful use of Indian spices like saffron and cardamom to create unique flavours.
A recent article on the Net said, “Xocolatti is a new premium chocolate brand (that) is poised to become the new definition of luxury chocolate – ‘Chocolate reimagined’.”
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