Siddhanth Sawkar is one of those young men who, with his single minded devotion, passion and hard work has achieved what many men of his age don’t even dream of. An inspiration to many, he runs a very successful food truck, one of the very few in the country and in the city of Bangalore. In a no-holds-barred interview, he speaks to Sid Khullar about how his dream became a reality, and the finer details of running his business.
Sid Khullar (SK): You have accomplished every red blooded male foodie’s dream; start a food truck! How did the idea come about?
Siddhanth Sawkar (SS): The Spitfire BBQ Truck is in its second form of existence now. When I launched the truck, it was meant to be a stop gap for me to get things in place for a restaurant. However, the response was totally satisfying and I decided to continue operations. This lead to a structural transformation of the truck into something a lot more appealing to the eye. Now, we are by far the best and only BBQ Truck in this beautiful subcontinent! I say this with great pride and joy.
SK: A food truck seems like a simple thing to set up. Is it so in your experience?
SS: There is a common misconception that setting up any business is a piece of cake. Setting up a food truck is a massive challenge and the following will ensure the success of the brand. Building a world class team – I am truly blessed to have Gauthami with me as a brilliantly skilled partner and chef. The two of us are on the truck cooking away to glory with the occasional dues of working in a hot kitchen. Then, come the vendors, farmers, suppliers, mechanics and higher level contacts. We haven’t faced any serious issues with the municipal corporations as well as police at any given point of time. Also, we are a one stop solution for a food truck business. We have the infrastructure to design, build, execute and market trucks that we build for varied clients. What sets us apart from a run of the mill body-builder is that we are professional chefs and our team spans across the world for key inputs on the design and ideas for a new truck coming into the business.
SK: What sort of menu works best with the truck format, how does your menu look and why?
SS: With regard to menu planning, design and execution, Gauthami and I have realised that less is more! We keep developing new recipes and techniques to implement on the truck. On a regular day of sales, we do 1 burger, 3 types of hotdogs and 1 side. Nothing more, nothing less. That’s the sweet spot right there.
SK: Do your outlets stay at the same place throughout the day, every day or do they rendezvous with residents of different areas at different times of the day, week or month?
SS: Currently, we have one truck that we operate ourselves and keep moving around Bangalore. We keep trying new locations and study the demographic as we go.
SK: Tell us about a typical day in the life of a food truck.
SS: Let me summarize a typical work day for you in the form of word flow; I wake up at 5am, bake breads, head out to the farmers market, receive fresh meat by 10am, start prep at 11am, market our location on social media sites, have lunch, load up the truck by 4pm, leave home by 5pm, reach the location by 6-6:30pm, commence operations till 11pm, have dinner, pack up and head back home, clean out the truck, check the accounts, begin planning for the next day of operations and hit the sack at 1:30-2:00am.
SK: What has the response from customers been like? Any incidents you would like to share?
SS: The response from the customers has been quite positive and strong in terms of the liking towards our food. Across the age line, young to old, they love the whole experience and the quality of the food being dished out. The kids are our best critics mainly because they don’t lie when it comes to food.
SK: Many of our readers may have ambitions for similar ventures in their cities. What would you advise them?
SS: With regard to advice for the people: Never give up on a dream you hold very close to you, there will be one person who will or just might support you and a thousand who will try to pull you down. Keep your eyes on that one person who appreciates your doings and your efforts to succeed. You will probably fall often when you get into something, anything for that matter. But, the whole idea of life is to fall and learn how to get back up on your feet while remaining headstrong in a positive manner. We are here to help! Any queries whatsoever with or without regard to food trucks, just give us a call and we’ll guide you through.
SK: What about licensing and regulatory issues? Did that work out alright or did you have to jump through the hoops?
SS: It’s a grey area but we are collectively making advancements towards legalizing and regulating the food truck industry.
SK: What are your future plans for food truck business? Expansion, franchising…?
SS:We are currently franchising out the brand to like minded individuals who want to be a part of the revolution.
SK: What got you into cooking?
SS: Well, to be absolutely honest, my parents, my urge to play with fire, visualising the transformation of something raw become so beautiful would always leave me in awe, and my always empty, bottomless pit of a stomach.
SK: How do you make time for yourself?
SS: Free time is existent. It’s pretty darn difficult to actually explain how I get free time, but I just do and it’s awesome! All the things I do for a living are my passions and I love what I do from automobiles to food to industrial design.
SK: How would you describe yourself?
SS: Me in three words and I am not trying to be pompous in any manner – Sexy, Smart, Raw!
Sid Khullar in conversation with Siddhanth Sawkar, owner of The Spitfire BBQ Truck.