HomechefMatters is a conference for the chefs,recipe developers,bakers who work at home doing popup restaurant meals,food delivery services ,cooking workshops etc or simply passionate about cooking homemade meals for their families .The objective of this conference is to educate and motivate the talented Home-chefs to target a wider audience for promotion of their food related events and provide them to better business opportunities.
The Event :
The whole day conference,from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm , held at St Regis Mumbai on Friday ,24th November was organised by FBAI in collaboration with Godrej Nature’s Basket, Godrej Appliances, Godrej Interio, Godrej Protekt .The event was graced by the presence of top culinary experts from the food Industry and was attended by celebrity chefs,food bloggers,food writers,photographers,stylists,authors..and experts related to food business.With the regional food getting popular among masses ,the customers are demanding regional food ,healthy food and local food in restaurants.The chefs on the other hand are not trained in cooking authentic regional cuisines.In this scenario the home chef who are expert in cooking traditional authentic regional food at home can collaborate with the restaurants and the food industry to cater to the customer demands.There were experts who gave their valuable insights on various topics like Food photography,Scaling up a home-based business,food for the kids,importance of innovation etc.The conference started with Mr. Sameer Malkani ,co-founder of FBAI welcoming the guests and the participants and expressing his privilege to collaborate with Godrej and California Walnuts to understand and analyse the latest cultural trend in the Indian food industry .In the following sections I will help you understand some of the trends as discussed by the expert speakers in the conference.
The benefits of California Walnuts
Internationally California Walnuts contribute to about 3/4 th of the World’s walnut trade.The conference began with the excellent know how provided by Ms. Mansi Ahuja from California walnuts who coined several benefits of consuming walnuts in our daily life ,some of them are as follows:-
- Lowers bad cholesterol and hence reduces the risk of heart disease
- Improves brain development
- Prevent diabetes
- Boost sperm quality
- Makes your skin glow
- Fights stress
- Great during pregnancy
Tips for food photography and styling
The Food stylist and photographer Nitin Tandon congratulated the Home-chefs saying ,”There was fast food,slow food and now there is home food”.The size of the food should be visualized as seen on one’s laptop or mobile screen, as that is the visual to be communicated to the world through social media.As there are thousands of written blogs as well as food in motion in the form of videos on the youtube, sharing only pictures is not interesting enough ,the whole story should get connected to the chef ,sharing the recipe.There should be 4 or 5 design elements which should be consistent in one’s pictures,he emphasized, which should represent:-
- Who you are ?
- What you want to represent as a brand?
The gorgeous and talented Chef ,author and a TV show host , Rakhee Vaswani ,spoke about how to present food beautifully on a plate using one’s creativity.She emphasized using black or white plates and explained the techniques to present culinary plating by designing the sauces with techniques like Dabbing ,Splattering the sauce with a fork,Dolloping etc
The importance of local ingredients and lost recipes
The use of seasonal ingredients has been an important characteristic of our Indian cuisines.Chef Vickey Ratnani reiterated the saying “eat seasonal and eat local” for better taste as well as health.Eating local ingredients encourage the farmer not to overproduce or pluck the produce early .He also stated that the traditional cuisines are very sacred and we should tamper and alter it only ,if we have mastered it.
Star Chef Hemant Oberoi spoke about how he brought home food to a 5 star restaurant by introducing a “phulka ” trolley filled with piping hot soft phulkas for the guests.He also spoke about a very traditional way how “Atta chicken” was cooked in rural Punjab before partition where the marinated chicken was wrapped with rotis and kept in tandoor overnight which would become an one pot dish after overnight slow baking in clay tandoor.
The popular Chef and TV show host Ranveer Brar , requested to preserve the lost recipes in conversations so that they can be discovered by generations to come.He also emphasized on probing food conversations in comparisons to flattering food conversations.The renowned author and food critic Rashmi Uday Singh and the famous TV personality Kunal Vijaykar discussed about reviving the Anglo-Indian recipes ,like Captain Cutlet and Railway mutton curry,Ball curry which are on the verge of becoming lost recipes .
The Michelin star Chef Vineet Bhatia gave his valuable insights how to give a modern look to the traditional Indian plating.He said ,that in comparison to the passion which goes into cooking home food ,when it comes to presentation,the efforts are not seen.Internationally when food is put into a plate ,more than 3 to 4 elements cannot be added to a plate so that it looks clean.He stated the importance of a good crockery used for serving good food and gave an illustration on how to serve an Indian thali with a modern twist.
The rice can form the base on a plate,topped with the main dish which can be chicken on a vegetable ,the sidedish like a “bhindi fry” can be just a garnish on top and the dal can be like a sauce .
At the second session of the conference after lunch ,a cooking competition was organized in which the participants were divided into 6 groups consisting of 6 participants each.They were given limited ingredients like a brinjal,pineapple,mushrooms and some spices.The challenge was to create a lost recipe with the ingredients along with California walnuts and Godrej cooking oil .I am happy to say that our team won as we had prepared two lost recipes ..
- Begun Bhaja: Thick slices of Aubergines marinated with turmeric and salt and deep fried in oil ,a side dish from the Bengal
- Ananas Sambhare :A pineapple curry with coconut milk which is a wedding dish of Pathare Prabhu community
The food and nutrition in a kid’s diet
The host of popular TV show for kids on the FoodFood channel , “Mummy ka Magic” and a creative chef and a doting mom, Amrita Raichand expressed her interest and the need of a separate restaurant in the city specially for the kids.She spoke about balanced food and nutrition for the kids and in addition laid stress on making meal times fun by the parents.She quoted ,”Man is what his thoughts are and good thoughts are the result of good food”.She spoke about creative ,colorful,fun filled meal times for the kids and instructed the parents to approach the kids in an non-authoritative way during the meals.
Balancing innovation in food and staying true to traditional recipes
The chef Saransh Goila,host of the popular TV Show “Roti Rasta aur India” in FoodFood channel spoke about the importance of building up a traditional recipe using innovative techniques .He spoke about the invention of “Chocolate golgappas” which he had created by coating the traditional poories with chocolate and filling them up with chocolate milkshakes.He also shared his recipe of butter chicken which he had given a creative twist by smoking with charcoal.
Opportunities and scaling up the homechef business
There has been a vast change in the eating pattern of the country in restaurants ,unlike before where the trend was European and Continental cuisine ,people want to eat regional food and there is a need to collaborate with the home chefs to find an interesting menu.The panelists who consists of food writers,restaurateurs,hoteliers discussed the opportunities and the need of scaling up a homebased food business.
The renowned author Kalyan Karmakar revived his memories of eating from a dabba when he was staying in a PG accomodation long back.He said that the restaurants and the home chefs can share a symbiotic relationships to come together and serve customers.The big cultural and social change which has come is that the Indian families are no more joint families ,they are more nuclear ,and with both the members working ,there is an increasing demand of homemade food .
Sandeep Sridharan of Curry tales says that they want to introduce dynamic menus as the customers don’t want to have the same food whatever long menu it may be be .So the collaboration with Home-chefs help to identify a neighbourhood special menu which may be popular in a particular part of the city.Prateek who has expertise in cheese making at home emphasized on having more conversations and one to one interactions with people in the food business to get better opportunities.
Kurush Dalal who is an archaeologist and runs a Parsi catering business successfully said ,that food is a personal journey and the home chefs need to move out of the home to scale up the home business.They need a separate space with people working for them.They need to focus on the quality of the product .
The lavish lunch by 8 top home-chefs in the country
For Lunch at the conference, 8 home chefs from across the country, take up the Mentorship under Executive Chef, St. Regis Hotel, Mumbai, Himanshu Taneja to prepare a lavish Lunch buffet consisting of vegetarian and non-vegetarian items and desserts.The food was delicious and authentic
Ananya Banerjee ,Mumbai
1) Machher Horo Gouri (fish in twin sauce, one side tangy with tamarind sauce one side pungent with mustard sauce)
2) Badhakopir dhokar dalna (cabbage & lentil dumpling curry)
Shri Bala ,Chennai
1) One pot meal
2)Dry veg curry made with fermented rice fries
4) Mitti ki khusboo (dessert)(raw rice moong dal jaggery milk ghee mixed nuts)
Doma Wang Seth, Kolkata
1) Mutton momos with squash and onions
2) Hot stew with veggies
Sherry Malhotra, Kolkata
Northwest frontier menu
1) Chepli kebab(mutton)-Minced mutton kebabs shallow fried on a pan
2) Kaale moti aur asharfi ki biryani (rice with black gram balls made of mawa, paneer, dry fruits decorated with silver varq)
1) Smoked prawn korma
2) Godila curry:-Pea paste curry
Manzilat Fatima ,Kolkata
Royal Awadh menu
1) Ghutwan Kebab
2) Kadhi masoor ki dal
Alefia Jane ,Mumbai
East Indian Menu
1) Duck Moilee:Duck cooked in a super spicy traditional East Indian masala
2) Cucumber Cake:Grated cucumber and coconut with semolina steamed
Rhea Dalal ,Mumbai
1) Narial na Doodh ma Knolkol (kohlrabhi cooked in coconut milk)
2) Suran ma Gos (mutton cooked with elephant’s foot yam)
There were several other industry and food experts like author Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal ,owner of ABP Cook studio who gave her views on the type of career opportunities an home-chef can opt to take their work to the next level ,chef Varun Inamdar,chef Harpal Singh Sokhi who spoke about various topics like healthy eating ,documenting recipes through videos etc. and finally this wonderful conference came to an end with high tea.
I had an wonderful time enjoying,learning through the live sessions and my fellow bloggers company and tried to document as much as possible but there was more than I could express through this article and I may have missed a lot of things but this post will help me re-live the wonderful day ,whenever I want.I will be grateful to FBAI and Ms Saloni Mirchandani for inviting me for such an important and wonderful event.
Thank you for reading 🙂