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Sharon Lobo

IWB Blogger

Bhakti Mehta Gives A Bite Of Her Foodpreneurial Journey And Shares Recipe To Success

  • IWB Post
  •  December 5, 2017

In 2010, a media professional traded her marketing manuals for a chef’s apron, and in came the existence of The Little Food Co!

A self-taught chef, Bhakti Mehta took a not-so-little step out of her 9-6 job in the television media department and moved to a kitchen full-time! Bold step, you’d say? Well, bold it may be, but it took Bhakti far and out beyond the reach of judgments and speculations!

She loves traveling, and it happens to be an essential supplement of her cooking-inspiration. Food styling, working with restaurants on menu development, recipe testing, kitchen planning, training, you pick a genre and she’s been there done that. So if it’s about food, chances are that Bhakti has had a hand at it!

The Little Food Co. offers a complete catering experience to reflect one’s personality and bring their vision to life. They have a team of chefs, bartenders, and wait for staff who are spirited foodies and love to share ideas that elevate an event and make it stand out.

Come let’s dig a bit deeper into Bhakti’s foodpreneur journey, and of course, get a peek into her creative recipes to revamp our mundane menu cards, too:

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Let’s begin with talking about your travel-kitchen experience! 

I travel like a tourist and absolutely love discovering street food and trying out different things. It keeps me going and fuels my food-curiosity!

Wow! Which country’s street food do you think you can adapt to India?

The one in Hong Kong!

With talks of travel in the air, tell me about your entrepreneurial journey, too!

To be honest, it happened to me by fluke. It was around a year and a half ago, I was working in the television department, a 9-6 job when without any prior planning, my passion for cooking began to take over. My success lies in the fact that I haven’t got professional training for all the things I know on the job. What I have learned came from the job, and it’s grown from a place where I used to cater ten people alone, to now a thirty-member team catering up to 500 people.

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There are pros and cons of it, but it’s been a good run for us. I have learned to be an entrepreneur and chef, on my own. It’s pretty much been a journey traveled on reading and adapting!

That’s inspirational! Would you give me a tour of the not-so-little little food co.’s kitchen?

Haha, why not! But I have a pretty naive kitchen thinking of the typical picture of a chef’s kitchen. We don’t have exciting gadgets as such, but we have scissors & knifes, she laughed. Regarding exotic ingredients, they come and go as some of them are seasonal and for others, we place an order, like currently, you’ll find a lot of peppercorns in my kitchen, which I got from Hong Kong.

What did your marketing strategy chart look like in the initial days?

There was no marketing strategy. At that time my options were either to cater for a restaurant or be a wedding caterer. So there was nothing like a house party catering service which gave restaurant like food. But there were people who’d come home and cook in your kitchen one-two hours before the service. We simply kept in touch with people who partied with us, but today, it’s become more social media friendly!

Ah! No vendor management strategy either?

Not really, but we are always looking for vendors who would supply better ingredients. And so we stay connected with farmers, and expect them to deliver things on time, because we pay them on time, too!

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How exactly are you supporting local farmers through your business?

We have worked with some local farmers, and even a small scale vegetable vendor who sells potatoes, onions, coriander and other basic veggies. We make sure that we buy from him so that he can expand to a wholesale firm and then to a company like us, and eventually change his status. Other than that we work with certain specific farmers like there’s one ouster, all our mushrooms come directly from his farm in Pavna. We get most of our herbs and microgreens from them. We recently got some microgreens from Hyderabad.

That’s a very thoughtful gesture, or strategy if I may say! But with the mention of all the herbs and veggies, I’m curious to know about your idea of a healthy menu?

Salad, as I’m addicted to Mexican food. Some lettuce, vegetables, grilled chicken, sour cream, and I am sorted!

And what would be your advice to parents for planning a healthy menu for their kids?

I think parents need to trick their kids into eating vegetables which they won’t eat otherwise. They can make a wrap of the chapati and bhaji or make healthy burgers with whole wheat bread. They can explore more kid’s books, that would be a great idea!

Tell me, Bhakti, about any burn during your journey.

I think we should have raised money a couple of years ago, as we bootstrapped for 8 years. I guess I should have taken some financial help and should have thought of getting a partner, too, because running a business alone has its own challenges, she shared.

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So, would you say that funding is mandatory?

It depends on the kind of business you are in. In the catering business, we have bootstrapped as well funded it, and we’ve been doing this for so long. We are pretty good at it. But it is a very traditional way of business. Thus, funding becomes important to me to take the next step in business.

Now time for some quick bite-sized “fresh” creative ideas! 

Bachelorette Party:

Fun Bite-size appetizers only menu – Savoury churros, Mini sliders, Truffle gnocchi, and Mini spaghetti shooters.

Grandmas Golden Jubilee:

Traditional classic Indian menu – Dal makhani, Classic mutton biryani with mirch salan, and Amritsari chole kulcha.

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Daughters Fifth birthday:

Kids bday party – Pink hummus with veg crudites, mini bagel sandwiches, Mexican taco bar, ice cream sundae station.

Sangeet ceremony:

Indian fusion menu – Spinach & goat cheese kofta, Chicken tikka quesadillas, Pumpkin & brie cheese samosas, Pulled lamb kheema pav. Appam stew station, Chaat counter, etc.

Lastly, any tips to work efficiently with the caterer’s this festive season?

I advise looking for known caterers. If your friends or relatives have assigned anyone, they will give you the perfect advice. Secondly, if you have an idea of the cuisine you are going for, like if it’s a kid’s party or a wedding, just keep a look out for reviews online so that you get an idea of what other people are saying and what are their thoughts. (Makes sense!)

But how could we let Bhakti leave without a recipe or two, a request she happily agreed to! Guesses about what she treated us with? *dances in excitement* Fresh from the oven ‘Cranberry Cheese Chive Crescents! So stay tuned because Christmas is around the corner, and you don’t want the slurpilicious crescents to be missing from your Christmas dinner!

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