This is probably the first time that I am writing about it in the blog. but if you have been following me on social media, then you might have heard of the Home Cheffies Awards. The awards were announced last Sunday through an online ceremony broadcast on #FinelyChoppedTV on the Finely Chopped Facebook page.
You might have participated in it too. Or urged others to. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for all your support.
The awards is an initiative that I have been proud to have been working on over the past couple of months, though it could be fair to say that the inception of this dates back to mid 2020. Or 2013-14 perhaps!
I was lucky enough to be witness to the emergence of the first set of home chef ‘brands’ in India in 2013-14. Many of whom came from Mumbai and the top metros. Some of the best known ones would include Gitika Saikia, Jasleen Marwah, Ananya Banerjee, Shital Kakad, Sherry Mehta, Perzen Patel, Rachna Prasad, Soumitra Velkar, Nafisa Kapadia, Shri Bala, Pallavi Amberkar and Inderpreet Nagpal. Folks who were not professional chefs, but who presented food from their kitchens through pop ups and festivals in restaurants, hotels and from their own homes. A concept which was not entirely new in India, but this was the first time that distinct brands were emerging in the sector. Where people got to know the faces behind the food.
The next stage of the ‘home chef revolution’, as folks at the FBAI who organise an event of the same name call it, happened in mid 2020. This was after the pandemic hit us and the nation went into lockdown. People looked for respite from cooking and working at home and for anything that would bring joy in gloomy time. Out came the home chefs offering food cooked at home and which they were willing to retail and send to our houses. There was a sense of trust associated with food cooked at home, which was critical at a time when panic and uncertainty ruled our lives.
What followed was a glorious array of food which was made available to us at our doorsteps. Not just in Mumbai or in the metros, this became a pan-Indian sensation. And it was not just about food, this became a means of social change for the bulk of home chefs, unlike professional chefs, were women. In many cases, they began to run their families at a time when economic misfortune caused by the pandemic hit us all. A fundamental boost for women empowerment. Move over patriarchy, as they said in Money Heist!
Things changed as the months went by. Restaurants and hotels came back into action and made their own valiant attempts to adopt to the new world. The pandemic still hung on our head like Damocles’ Sword. Then came the second wave of the epidemic.
By now food lovers had got a taste of what home chefs had on offer and wanted more. Home chefs themselves begin to understand the power of what they stood for and were hungry to grow.
Fresh home chef power brands began to emerge.
Some relatively new and wonderful home chefs in Mumbai whose food one got to personally taste and fall in love with included Marina Balakrishnan, Mahrukh Mogrelia, Meena Sunramanian, Shabnam Mukadam, Sneha Senapati, Mudit Srivastava, Francesco Murzello and industry veterans such as Bimba Nayak and Gautam Welkar, plus old favourites such as Ananya Banerjee, Jasleen Marwah, Inderpreet Nagpal and then there was Sherry Mehta who had started a cloud kitchen. I am sure I have missed out on some names that will come to me later. Most became friends and above all, huge sources of inspiration for they had turned adversity into opportunity, poison into medicine. All through their own drive, passion, skill, hard work and commitment.
One thing which became clear was that many of the home chefs were in this for the long run. In which case, building their own brands based clarity of vision and purpose, by developing business acumen and being able to tell their own stories would become crucial.
Which is why one took the opportunity to partner with Nidhi Agarwal’s BookAWorkshop.in platform to conduct live and recorded master classes for building master chef brands and conducted consulting sessions too.
Based on our experience in the sessions, we realised that there was a need to make home chefs realise their own potential and to think in terms of building their brands. Which is why we decided to come up with an awards programme which would recognise and reward emerging home chef brands and more importantly, sensitise home chefs to the need for building their own brands.
I reached out to Kainaz to help name it and she coined the name ‘Home Cheffies’. The rest, may I say, is history!
The response and support that we got was beyond our dreams and you can read about that in the Home Cheffies Awards press note below. Please feel free to use this or reach out to me should you wish to spread the word.
Thank you and viva le Home Cheffies,
THE HOME CHEFFIES POWER BRAND AWARDS WAS ANNOUNCED BY BOOKAWORKSHOP.IN IN MAY 2021 IN PARTNERSHIP WITH KALYAN KARMAKAR, AN AWARD-WINNING FOOD WRITER AND BRAND CONSULTANT.
Please get in touch with Kalyan Karmakar at [email protected] or +91 9820218099 for further queries on the Home Cheffies 2021 awards.
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