The term ‘home chef’ has come in vogue in recent years in the Indian food industry. It refers to people who cook food at home and offer the same commercially. Thereby opening business opportunities for home cooks. There are various manifestations of this. Some prepare daily tiffins from home for customers. Some create local treats during festivals and offer this on sale. Some have opened semi-commercial kitchens and have tied up with delivery apps. Some host pop ups at home. Some have gone on to consult with restaurants and even five star hotels.
We are just at the beginning of this phenomenon. The model is yet to bloom and its potential is tremendous. What the home chef model does in a country like India is that it provides opportunities for economic empowerment for those who are dependent on others in the family. Especially women, who can look at achieving financial independence through this and could even look at changing the fortunes of their families. Thereby helping restore the gender imbalance which is often prevalent in our society.
To understand the scope of the phenomenon better, I spoke to two very well respected and accomplished chefs. Chefs Ashish Bhasin and Ranveer Brar. Both had started their careers in the five-star dining segment after having passed out of hospitality school. Chef Bhasin continues to be in the industry while chef Brar has moved out and is now a celebrated TV chef and food culture expert. Both believe strongly in the depth and richness of Indian cuisine and feel that home chefs can play a great part in taking this ahead.
Chef Bhasin has worked closely with home chefs through his hotel engagements first with the Oberoi group and now with the Leela, Ambiance Mall, where he is the executive chef. He has mentored many home chefs in the food festivals that he has worked on. He said the he marvels at the passion and drive that home chefs bring in. The variety of dishes too, which go well beyond what one sees in top hotels. What he values the most though are the practises from their kitchens that each chef brings in. Practices that are a result of those followed by their ancestors and are reflective of their cultural identity. This results in a spark individuality which unlocks hidden treasures of authenticity and helps ensure that the Indian cooking tradition remains a living one.
Chef Brar’s journeys across the country for his TV shows and his experience as a judge for Masterchef India have exposed him to a side of Indian home kitchens which very few professional chefs of his calibre have got to experience. The journey has left him humbled. He says that there is a sense of calm and harmony that rests in Indian home kitchens which could be considered to be the anchor of our society. A reflection of who we are as people. He feels that home chefs can play a great role in helping us experience this wondrous phenomenon through their food. He strongly stresses the need to realise the value that home chefs bring in, says that they should be allowed to bloom within their own eco-system and that commercial restaurant models should not be thrust on them. That would kill what they have to offer, he puts it bluntly.
My conversation with them was in the context of a platform called the Yummy Idea which has been launched with the aim of promoting home chefs across the country. Awareness and trust are the first stumbling factors that operators in this largely unorganised sector have to deal with. To help overcome this, a contest is being launched by Yummy India to empanel home chefs and give them recognition.
Chefs Bhasin and Brar are coming on board as judges for the contest and mentors for the participants. The two former colleagues are quite excited about coming together to help contribute to the growth of the home chef industry in India by giving wings to them.
I spoke to Radhika and Tushar, co-creators of the Yummy Idea platform and this is what they had to say:
‘Yummy Idea as a platform completes the missing cycle for Home Chefs. It is like a painkiller addressing the specific pain points, and solving the problem that lies in an unorganised home chef marketplace.
It is a self-empowering and user-friendly tool that helps home chefs build their profile, showcase their work and connect with their customers directly. In the era where trust, hygiene, authenticity lay the foundation of relationship with customers, Yummy idea process allows all the home chefs to establish & get their visibility in their neighbourhood reflecting all the above key points to an unknown customer in a very unique way!
As a customer, there is a clear message to the chefs –
“I WANT TO KNOW YOU, BEFORE I ORDER FROM YOU”
And so, should be the reply from the Home chefs –
“GET TO KNOW ME BEFORE ORDERING WITH ME!”
Get started with your “Social Professional account” and make the first impression to your customer.
You do what you do best “cooking”
Let us do the rest “Your marketing”’
To watch our conversation click here (this was a webinar done remotely and please allow for the odd echo and please accept my apologies for that):