On a crisp fall Tuesday morning, Mah-Ze-Dahr bakery in New York’s Greenwich Village is abuzz with coffee-and-treat seekers making an attempt to dodge the cameras for this shoot. The Solely Pure Diamonds crew has infiltrated the area to movie Mah-Ze-Dahr founder Umber Ahmad for a brand new sequence referred to as Carat Cake through which bakery homeowners and cooks reveal the intricate and infrequently overlapping layers that exist amongst tales involving love, diamonds, and pastries.
“We should always have the ability to proceed after this cappuccino and earlier than the subsequent latte,” jokes Ahmad in between takes. Such is the vibe of this casually upscale eatery which serves to-die-for chocolate chip scones, distinctive cookies, and opulent chocolate ganache muffins. “Mah-ze-Dahr,” an Urdu time period that describes “the magic or the essence that makes one thing particular,” celebrates Ahmad’s Pakistani heritage and serves because the ethos of her ever-expanding empire (5 places and counting). Right here, the previous funding banker, jewellery collector, pilot, and voiceover actor—sure she is that gifted—delves into what makes life so candy.
How did Mah-Ze-Dahr Bakery begin?
Umber Ahmad: I’m not a baker or a chef by coaching or commerce. I’m a lover of meals and an individual who has grown up with a number of cultures in lots of totally different locations all over the world. My household is from Pakistan and we settled in northern Michigan in a neighborhood stuffed with Finnish, Swedish, and Polish immigrants. Each summer time my household would go to Pakistan for 2 months after which my dad and mom would decide a rustic and we might dwell there for a month. So I used to be given a possibility to seek out out what meals meant to different individuals. It was how we realized concerning the world. As I grew up, meals grew to become a language. It grew to become a technique to love individuals, and present your intention, and it was finally what I needed to do.
“Mah-ze-Dahr,” an Urdu time period that describes “the magic or the essence that makes one thing particular.”
How did your love of baking develop?
UA: My love of baking developed from my Gram. Gram was initially from Finland and she or he helped maintain us as we grew up. She grew to become our third grandmother. Gram would wrap me in blankets and she or he’d plop me up on the counter and she or he would begin making cake or bread or cookies or brownies. And whereas she could be doing that, she could be telling me tales. She’d inform me tales about what it was like rising up on a farm or what a newlywed life was like, how she slashed her husband’s tire on the primary day of their marriage as a result of he stated she couldn’t drive. I liked that and each a kind of tales and moments with Gram was related to baking. That’s how I grew to become a lover of baking and pastry.
You’ve got this love of baking, however then you definately go into finance. How did that work?
UA: Finance, for me, was about ensuring that I might perceive how the world labored. I grew up eager to be a physician like my father. And getting by way of my undergraduate and my grasp’s packages, my dad saved difficult me as to what it was I actually cared about. It was serving to individuals and altering individuals’s lives. I used to be engaged on Wall Road after I determined to grow to be my very own shopper in the future. I went from serving to different individuals construct their manufacturers and understand their desires to fascinated with how I used to be going to construct a dream of my very own.
What’s the essence of Mah-Ze-Dahr and the way does that relate to your prospects?
UA: The phrase mah-ze-dahr comes from the Urdu language, which is the language that’s spoken in Pakistan, the place my household is from. It’s a phrase used to explain the magic or the essence that makes one thing particular. So, think about you chunk into certainly one of our donuts and you may’t fairly put your finger on what makes it so unimaginable. Is it the vanilla, is it the cream? Is it the brioche? It’s mah-ze-dahr. We additionally use that phrase to explain individuals. So, perhaps, it’s the primary time you met the individual you fell in love with, or it’s your greatest good friend or somebody you resolve to enter enterprise with or collaborate with. There’s one thing magical about that individual. There’s one thing particular. It attracts you in. You fall in love with it, and it’s the way you keep related. And that’s what we hope occurs to you while you eat our pastries, you fall in love with us.
May the identical sentiment be utilized to pure diamonds?
UA: I come from a tradition the place jewellery is essential. It’s very private. Going again generations, it was additionally a method of safety for ladies. As they obtained married, they had been gifted with lots of jewellery that if, God forbid, in any state of affairs they needed to depart, that jewellery would grow to be theirs. When a lady is born in our tradition, the dad and mom begin to amass jewellery for her wedding ceremony and what number of ever years later. So, there are lots of tales about that jewellery. For me, jewellery has a really particular mah-ze-dahr. It’s one thing intangible that you simply simply fall in love with. You possibly can’t clarify why a chunk turns into so particular to you, or perhaps you may, however that mah-ze-dahr could be very private. It’s the way you join with one thing. You discover one thing, you see one thing, you’re gifted one thing, and there’s a mah-ze-dahr to that.
The place did your diamond journey begin?
UA: My diamond story began after I was 16. My mother gifted me these attractive [Tiffany & Co.] earrings. They’ve a traditional design. I had coveted them for thus lengthy and when she gifted them to me, I felt so particular like a princess.
What’s your ethos in relation to carrying diamonds?
UA: I’m an enormous believer that diamonds ought to go together with every little thing. They aren’t for a particular occasion or an evening out, they’re on your life as a result of that’s essentially the most particular occasion which you could have. I like carrying my tennis necklace with only a sundress or a T-shirt. I’ve so many piercings [in my ears] that I like the graduating sizes of solitaire diamonds. My ear is topped off with just a little hoop of diamonds. One among my favourite items I bought for myself is a Repossi ear cuff, which I had coveted, gosh, for longer than I can bear in mind again when Barney’s New York nonetheless existed.
What are you able to inform us about this Cartier quantity?
UA: After I was working as an funding banker, I took my first bonus test and walked proper into Cartier, put the test down on the counter and I stated, “What is going to this get me?” The man working there checked out me, regarded on the test, and stated, “A go to to the personal room.” I stated, “Glorious, let’s go.” So in doing that they designed this ring for me and I completely like it. It’s an attractive piece of jade from Hong Kong surrounded by diamonds.
What else is in your assortment?
UA: One other piece that I like is my grandmother’s ring that she gifted to my mother. Then my mother gifted it to my sister and me. My sister and I share all of my mother’s jewellery. Nevertheless it’s additionally actually unhappy since you actually solely get heirloom jewellery when somebody passes away. So when my mother died six years in the past, she left us this jewellery and I didn’t begin carrying it till a few yr in the past. The primary time I wore this ring was at my wedding ceremony. It’s a ring from our grandmother and my mother and it’s a ruby surrounded by diamonds, which is simply so particular. I believe that very naturally in your life, historic moments include one thing that needs to be marked in a approach. I believe pure diamonds do this superbly.
This ring was a present from certainly one of my greatest buddies. She now lives in Hong Kong and she or he couldn’t come to the marriage. So she despatched her husband who was right here for work for some cause with this ring and it was like a bizarre sketchy drug trade. He exhibits up and he simply fingers me this pouch and I used to be like, “What’s taking place?”
She appears like a great good friend.
UA: She’s an excellent good friend. I do know everybody’s like, “What’s her identify? Can we be buddies?”
Which items are in your ring finger?
UA: Beginning on the very backside is my wedding ceremony band. It’s a knife-cut design, which I believe is so stunning. When my then-fiancé noticed it, he stated, “What about this?” The ring above my wedding ceremony ring is an eternity band and it’s one [in which the diamonds] go all the best way round. My mother at all times had a choice for rings like that. She stated, “diamonds aren’t only for present, so it shouldn’t simply be the half that individuals see, however it needs to be for you as properly.” I made that band for my sister and myself, so we exchanged these eternity bands.
When did you give it to your sister?
UA: I gave it to her the evening earlier than our wedding ceremony. It was a technique to symbolize that nothing adjustments while you marry, you simply type of add. My sister is by far my individual, and any person that I might give my life for, and so we put on this to remind one another of that.
What about your engagement ring?
UA: I grew up pondering that I needed a cushion minimize diamond or an previous Asscher minimize as a result of I like previous, pure diamonds and I believe they’re so stunning. And as we had been speaking about getting married, my now husband requested, “What do you consider a spherical diamond?” And I stated, “Oh gosh, have you ever seen this cushion minimize?” He’s like, “What a few spherical diamond?” And so I used to be like, “How about you resolve? All I ask is that it not be set too excessive due to what I do, I don’t need it to get caught fairly often.” And so I simply left it to him and, good boy, he did an excellent job and I like it.
What is that this final band?
UA: The final one is the toughest one to put on as a result of it’s my mom’s wedding ceremony band. I solely simply began carrying it a month in the past. When my mother died, my sister and I might simply stare at her jewellery. We even left her wedding ceremony ring and engagement ring the place she put them down earlier than going to the hospital. Her watch is there, her pajamas are there. All the things is because it was. And about six months in the past my sister and I made a decision that we have now to proceed to dwell and she or he would need us to put on her items. And so, my sister took one of many different items my mother wore daily and I took this one.
Has there ever been an occasion the place pastries and diamonds have intertwined at Mah-Ze-Dahr?
UA: Oftentimes individuals request muffins that say, “Will you marry me?” Or we’ll create lots of pastries for engagement events or weddings. Our pastries and mah-ze-dahr are a lot part of the celebration that goes with getting a diamond in your finger.
One among my favourite engagement tales was a few couple who had their first date right here on the bakery after which met on the bakery actually because it was midway between the place every of them lived. Once they had been able to get engaged, the man got here to me and stated, “I wish to do a personal baking class for my girlfriend and on the finish of it, I wish to suggest to her.” So, we did this entire baking class down within the kitchen which was beautiful. She was so excited and completely satisfied. Then, in the long run, I stated, “We’re going to pack up all of your pastries, so why don’t you guys simply go get washed up and while you come again I’ll have the packing containers.” We had nestled the ring field into one of many pastry packing containers.
As we had been handing them the pastry packing containers, I stated to the lady, “It’s best to simply test them to ensure you have every little thing that you simply want in there.” And she or he stated, “Oh no, we’re tremendous.” And I stated, “No, simply ensure in case you wish to transfer pastries round, in case you guys are going to totally different locations or one thing.” She’s like, “No, no, we’re going out collectively.” And I stated, “Properly, simply ensure I put the scones in as a result of I do know you’re keen on the scones and simply ensure they’re in that field, in that explicit field.” She’s about handy it to her boyfriend to try this. And he’s like, “Let me simply shortly tie my shoe earlier than we depart.”
So, then I shortly ran [away], he obtained down on one knee, she was opening a field, noticed the ring field, and circled to ask what it was. He was there on one knee and proposed. That, for me, was certainly one of my favourite engagement tales.
Photographer: Vincenzo Dimino
Video Inventive Director: Brian Anstey
Video Manufacturing: Arrow Media Productions