For party-goers and young professionals, particularly those who rely on take-outs, the month of April and May would have been treacherous. But many novice cooks seemed to have managed pretty well by churning out something new every other day — after watching a cookery show on television or from YouTube — and posting their achievements on social media.
Industry watchers began to see opportunity in this space, with people craving for safe, home-cooked food. “Thus was born Shef”, said Deepti Verma Chhabria and Rishi Chhabria, co-founders of the platform that aggregates chefs from across the country.
The Chhabrias plan to launch it in Mumbai by August-end and roll it across five more cities within the next 12 months. “We have on-boarded 200 chefs, and will be adding another 800 or so, as we expand into other cities,” the duo said.
From regional to gourmet
The platform offers a wide variety of cuisines from authentic regional cuisine to gourmet, healthy diet meals to Vegan, Gluten-free, diabetic-friendly meals, Indian sweets to international dessert platters all under one roof.
Prachi Thadani, a Bollywood film producer turned chef, told BusinessLine that cooking was not new to her. “I’ve always been passionate about cooking. When the pandemic slowed down our activities in the entertainment industry, I turned my interest to cooking. In the last two-and-half months, I’ve created a brand for myself. I post a recipe every day on Instagram. My menu is very gourmet and has become a rage. Orders keep pouring in – I cook 10 to 12 hours a day.”
Inderpreet Nagpal, is a home maker with a passion for cooking. “I take part in TV shows, conduct cooking classes and been in the business of preparing home-made pickles and food for years. I’ve doing the stuff in a small way, carving a niche for myself through word of mouth.”
“This platform would help in getting me connected to a wider audience,” Nagpal said, adding “I do not confine the preparation to traditional pickles but into fusion varieties as well. I used to take part in expos, showcase my range of preparations – jams, pickles, spice powders and so on.”
“The lockdown did impact continuity as the expos stand cancelled. But those that have tasted my pickles have come back, placing orders over phone. The demand for home-made food is picking up,” Nagpal said.
The Chhabrias conceded that home chefs have always existed, but never got a chance to go out, grow and explore their skills. “With people yearning to eat out, yet scared to take a bite, the demand for home-cooked stuff is picking up,” said Deepti.