Sitting behind the cash counter or instructing staff by the woodfire oven, Zend Meherwan Zend was synonymous with Yazdani Bakery. He was a regular at the iconic bakery in Fort, even after being afflicted with acute Parkinson’s in his later years. On Sunday, Zend died due to advancing age. He was 86.
Food historian Kurush Dalal recalls Zend as the baker who was not afraid to experiment and wished to give his customers quality products. In his younger days, Dalal’s visits to the agiary in Fort would end with a bun maska laced with sugar at Yazdani, where Zend would be at the counter, usually manning the phone. In a tribute on social media, Dalal wrote: “He was perhaps the first baker in Mumbai to go beyond Bun, Brun, Laadi pav and Sliced Bread. He regularly supplied major canteens all over the city and even the Mantralaya… In the last two decades Zend slowed down due to Parkinson’s but he still made the rounds of the business and his regulars looked forward to his brief daily visits as did his staff. He’s gone to the big bakery in the sky today and is probably convincing St Peter to try his ‘Jurmuns’.”
Zend was diagnosed with Parkinson’s more than a decade ago. Food writer Kalyan Karmakar, who conducts food walks in the city, used to often begin his tours at Yazdani where Zend would be a familiar face. “He was not in the best of health but he would always show up. Because of his condition, people didn’t always know how to react, but he would walk up to them and interact with them,” Karmakar said.
Zend’s son, Zyros, recalled that his father was originally in a white collar job but left it to join the family business. Zend was also known as a boxer in his younger days. “After he married, his wife told him that he was better off bashing bread dough,” Zyros said.
He added, “He just wanted to give good bread and a nice cup of tea. He wanted people to come and enjoy the bakery.”
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