CHENNAI: Volunteers will play chef, waiter and entertain in the first a series of 'pop up' cafes for good will next Sunday. A twist on the already popular concept of the Seva cafe in cities like Ahmedabad and Mumbai, where your bill is paid for by the guest who came before you — Chennai's take cuts down on overheads by setting up shop at an already existing establishment. "Next weekend our guests will be the folks at SCARF(Schizhophrenia Research Foundation) on ECR. A month after it may be at an orphanage or an institute for destitute women," Yogesh Parmar, the man behind the effort gives us an idea of the general drift.
With 30 people signed up for the 'Inaugural Seva Pop Cafe in Chennai' as their Facebook page reads — tasks include everything from shopping for groceries to menu planning, vegetable chopping, cooking and planning a way to engage their guests with storytelling or music. Yogesh who is a behavioural scientist by profession is no stranger to humanitarian projects with his group the Joy of Giving quick to act during the Chennai floods. But he clarifies that this will not be just a lunch serving managed on donations. "The idea is to make people feel like they are among family. So there will be a lot of engagement in the hope to create an experience that feels as close to home as possible," he says.
That said, getting a bunch of strangers to take over a random kitchen for a day and cook for close to a 100 people is bound to be on par with a Masterchef pressure test. Starting on kitchen duty as early as 7.30 am Yogesh adds, "We are also roping in seven people who set up a pop up Seva cafe in Bengaluru a few weeks ago to help out and keep us on track." Look out for a Seva pop up cafe every month. They've got everything from aloo kofta to gulab jamun planned for lunch this time, one of the amateur chefs shares. There's only one item on the takeway list though — love.
To volunteer your time, contribute or both, check the Facebook page or contact 9884444711.