The destination for authentic food is in people’s home. While the diverse culinary culture is attracting foodies, “Scaling up is imperative to stay in the competition. But in doing so there is always a fear that it might take away the personal touch that makes visits to their homes so thrilling,” says chef Sabyasachi Gorai. His advice to home chefs eager to scale up is to “remain real and relevant. Home chefs have a larger objective of preserving heirloom recipes. The one thing that home chefs should not do is to get influenced by cooking shows on television and start experimenting.” Gorai suggests that home chefs should stick to authentic ingredients but prepare them with new techniques or try out unlikely combinations of flavours and at the same time stay true to taste and flavour as much as possible.
What sets home chefs apart is not just the passion but also the efforts invested to serve home-style food. They should concentrate more on exclusivity and novelty factor rather than the numbers game. According to actress-turned chef turned author Tara Deshpande, “Home chefs should concentrate more on dishes that are not available in restaurants. Trying to do too many things at the same time can spell doom.” Her mantra for success is consistency, reliability and the ability to be precise with taste and presentation. She reckons, “Bigger restaurants fail because most of the times they cannot deliver on time and compromise on services. Reliability and consistency, therefore, are must-have tricks for success.”
Prominent food writer Kalyan Karmakar points out that identifying the niche cuisine is the way ahead for home chefs. “We see a tremendous growth for authentic regional dishes like never before. If you want to make your food business a success, concentrate more on the nitty-gritty of regional delicacies. More than focusing on food, we need to highlight our culture as cuisines are equally a part of it — that’s what keeps people coming back,” he says.
Perhaps, the only way to expand is to collaborate with restaurants. Home chefs are increasingly being invited by fine-dining restaurants to host food popups. “In doing so, it becomes an educating experience both for professional chefs and diners,” says chef Harpal Singh Sokhi. He recounts a personal experience when he was shooting a cookery show for a television channel in somebody’s house in Delhi when the home chef showed how to ace cooking the humble kadhi pakora. “These kinds of nuanced cooking tips can only come out from home chefs,” he says. The restaurant-home chef partnerships can be extremely fruitful as home-chefs can interact with foodies and share their food stories. Sokhi concurs that restaurants too are eager to collaborate with hobby chefs incorporating popups in their culinary calendars.
There’s also chef Varun Inamdar who says that the biggest challenge for a home chef who wants to scale up is to stay true to one’s food. He says, “Home chefs ought to develop their signature style rather than merely imitating others. Highlight on your key strengths but at the same time do not camouflage your weaknesses.” Inamdar also has a word of caution for home chefs trying to follow culinary trends blindly. “It is a bad idea to run a business based on a trend because that’s not going to survive in the long run,” he admits.
How can you scale your food business to the next level while remaining profitable? Let us know in the comment section below.