Would you cook for strangers?
Bengalureans are opening their dining rooms to foodies who want to taste traditional home-cooked food
BENGALURU: There’s a certain old-world charm in gathering around a table, eating a home-cooked meal and making conversation - something that has been replaced by sitting in front of TVs and grabbing a meal or staring into phones, laptops and tablets rather than communicating. With this concept in mind, Ruchika Mehta, a marketing professional with over 17 years experience in travel and tourism, founded Commeat.
Commeat is a community of food enthusiasts who want to explore local cuisine right from the dining tables in someone’s home. With successful runs in NCR and Mumbai, this ‘pop-up’ concept is now coming to Bengaluru.
“Commeat started in December 2015, and we did our first pop-up in February 2016 in Delhi. The main idea was to help people understand where our food comes from, something that is lost in today’s restaurant or hotel culture. We also wanted to get people to sit around a table, which is essentially the first social network,” says Ruchika.
“Initially, we went to people we knew from the food industry, who are friends, and pitched this pop-up idea,” she adds. The response was so great, they decided to expand to Mumbai late last year, and are now in nine cities totally where 80 such pop-ups have happened.“Another thing that frustrated me was how loosely the word ‘foodie’ was starting to get thrown around. Anyone who has a social media account now calls himself/herself a foodie. So we wanted to bring back to attention to people who actually have experience or knowledge about the food industry, as they are the true definitions of foodies,” she says.
Commeat started a blog on these professionals, and a lot of queries started to pour in from readers asking when they’d actually get a chance to try the food made by these individuals.
That’s when these professionals - who can range from being food consultants, analysts, bloggers and more recently people who are just passionate about cooking and sharing their love for food with others - were asked if they were interested in hosting in their homes.One of the first Commeat pop-ups was held in the home of Ruchira Hoon, food consultant, blogger and partner at The Piano Man Bakery, Delhi, who has been associated with Commeat for the last year and a half.
Talking about her experience, she says, “I love hosting pop-ups because it allows me to showcase my talent to people who love food and are open to new experiences. Of course, I was hesitant initially, but Commeat did a great job with screening the guests. It also helps me be a better cook and push my own boundaries - I recently hosted a Onam sadhya pop-up with 26 dishes and I was surprised with how I managed it with such ease.”
Ruchika says, “While some of our hosts are so experienced that we don’t need to help them with the process, some are beginners or don’t know too much about hosting an event for a group. So we sit with them and help them come up with a menu and decide how to go about with the costing.”
Get in touch
Commeat has mainly been social media and word-of-mouth driven. For people who are interested in hosting a pop-up or attending one, they can approach the team through their website or Facebook page. The interested attendees are then screened and interacted with for safety purposes. You can write to the team at email@example.com.
will it cost you?
The pop-ups are priced starting as low as `650 to `2,500 per head for a limited number of seats, and the costs depends on the type of cuisine and the ingredients required for it. The money is then given to the host for covering costs and for their efforts, and a minimal fee is taken by Commeat.
The first open pop-up in the city is happening at home culinaire Varnika Ghosh’s house on September 24, who will be preparing a Durga Puja spread. “I think something like this will really work well in the city because Bengaluru has a good food culture - people love going out to eat. Something like this is refreshing and will definitely have people interested.”