And the slew continues. I don’t mean it in a bad way at all – it’s just that sometimes, too much of a good thing (read: solutions) can be exhausting. We now come back to food tech start-ups once more. As a policy (and it’s been shared with the Editors) I don’t enjoy writing about places that are already making media on different platforms. It’s like a one month long ad campaign a C grade product would do, bastardizing in a sense! So I’ve held on to a few experiences, to see how their life pans out and how they perform 3-6 months into operations. That, in my opinion is way more telling of a concept of a brand than their launch party.
Connecting home chefs and food lovers
I had a fleeting experience with one of Gurgaon’s many food delivery services a few months ago. It was humid and sweltering, so the idea of ‘home cooked’, home delivered, meals was very inviting, no doubt! There were meals due from Cyberchef that afternoon and I was slightly more excited with the prospect of eating from different kitchens, different homes. Cyberchef aspires to connect home chefs with food lovers (I will no longer be using the word ‘foodie’), young couples, and executives (‘gastronomists’ as they call themselves, albeit ambitiously). This Gurgaon-based virtual ‘cafe’ is a portal for home cooked meals. It was started in February 2015 by Neha and Anuj Puri, who shared a vision to offer perfect meal solutions that cater to a vast cross section of individuals without compromising on the wholesomeness of homemade food. In that respect, aggregation of ‘food’ makes more sense than a central kitchen.
Our order was simple, a combination of Indian and Mediterranean and from the tech perspective, the process was fluid. The portal provided all the information about lunch and dinner meals for the day, and each meal was from a different chef. The menu was a fair mix of the usual with a very obvious lack of Asian food, but then a parantha over a pita on a tiring, hot day, right? All I had to do was choose my meals, add to the cart, choose my payment option, feed in my details and 30-40 minutes later I received my order, beautifully packed. If I have to nitpick, it would be about the handwritten names of chefs on each of the boxes. I felt it took away the ‘meal’ aspect from the food, and just made the order seem scattered (of course, that’s a perception thing and no reflection on the food or the quality). I wouldn’t like to dwell on quality for too long, it raises too many questions. How does FSSAI figure in, and does it even? How is each chef’s process and quality (ingredient, hygiene, and kitchen) monitored? If you can surpass these niggles, as I suggest you do, you’ll enjoy your meal more!
Hits and misses
The Chicken Pita Pocket I ordered was fantastic – plenty of filling, light, mildly tangy Med flavours and despite that fact that it was moist and probably spent over 45 minutes in a box, the integrity of the sandwich remained. The Greek Salad I chose to complement the sandwich worked out well too. Despite the slightly overwhelming aroma of vinegar (which is why salads need either wine or cider vinegars over synthetic), it was fresh and crunchy. The Murgh Lababdar with Parantha didn’t leave a similar sense of satiation, as it was rich and heavy but lacking in flavour. The spices were there but that’s about it. A little more cream and a little more kasuri methi would have sufficed. This makes me wonder if menus like these ought to exclude ‘expense’ rich dishes like Mughlai or even Japanese for that matter? Fortunately, the Phirni that followed made up for the dismal performance of the chicken and the ultimate goal of the service, to feed people unable to organize a fresh, home cooked meal, was attained.