Imago Dei Café at Naxal
The smell of freshly-baked bread from the oven lingers in the air as you walk into Imago Dei Café located at Naxal in front of Haopin Hotpot restaurant. Inside, the famously known cheesecake lady and the founder of Imago Dei Café, Rachael Manley is hard at work preparing for the day’s order with the team. “People associate me with cheesecake so I am busy creating more unique cake recipes,” Rachael winks.
Rachael used to bake since her school days and gradually turned her passion into her art. Born in Scotland, Rachael moved to Nepal during her high school and decided to stay in the country forever. “I love the opportunities in the country,” she smiles. Rachael opened Imago Dei more than a decade back and quickly grasped how the hospitality business works. “Food is an amazing way to connect with people and earlier there were fewer cafés but I am glad many of them are still functioning,” she says.
With new restaurants in the market, Rachael agrees that today there’s a lot more emphasis on specialisation. “People are offering what they are good at rather than offering anything and everything,” she states.
With 15 years in the food business, Rachael is channelising what she does best. She finds baking is something that not everyone in Nepal thinks about; or they do not pursue it with enough passion or dedication. “There are many homegrown brands who do not even survive a couple of years,” she states.
Rachael monitors and engages her team with the nuances of baking. It’s an art really when you see someone like her work with the ingredients. “Only then will they get a real understanding… The right moment to stop kneading the dough or whisking the batter, how to mould the dough, and things like that,” she says.
Her food tastes magical – guests who have frequented Rachel’s Imago Dei know that her food is a home coming, it cannot be replicated in the true sense because it carries her touch.
Cakes are usually saved for special occasions, but Rachael wants to cultivate the culture of celebrating every moment with a piece of cake. “Every moment is a celebration,” she emphasises. Talking about her new menu, she shares, “I have 30 items on my menu currently which comprises of cupcakes, different breads, coffee cakes, cheese cakes, white chocolate kiwi cake, red velvet and alike. Baking is so much more than desserts”.
In the world of cake decoration, the possibilities are endless. “Decorating cakes has metamorphosed into confectionery high art,” says Rachael agreeing that baking is a lifelong learning process.
Just as the oven pings, Rachael mulls over her zest for creating food that enthralls the guest. She has an insatiable appetite for learning, for meaningful conversations, for creating special moments and taste… Her food tastes magical – guests who have frequented Rachel’s Imago Dei know that her food is a home coming, it cannot be replicated in the true sense because it carries her touch.