Hosting a festive get together? Let home chefs come to your rescue

While restaurants, takeaway joints and dhabas have opened, most people are still wary of eating out due to health and safety concerns. In the current pandemic scenario, people are not sure about safety and hygiene rules being followed by service and kitchen staff at restaurants. At the same time, several talented home cooks made the most of the enforced confinement to hone their culinary skills and take their talent to the next level. What started as posting pictures of fancy food on WhatsApp groups and Instagram accounts gradually turned into a small-scale business, operated from the comfort of home. Today, there are umpteen home chefs who are not only providing healthy and delectable food for regular days as well as special occasions and festivities but also using a lot of creativity in order to enhance the customer’s dining experience.
With festivals like Navratri, Durga Puja and Diwali round the corner, we talk to home chefs and foodies about the trend of home kitchens, festive-special menus and more

Hot trend: The rise of lockdown chefs Cooking was once a hobby for several people who have now turned home chefs and are leaving no stone unturned in experimenting with different cuisines and churning out food for the party-friendly crowd. “I started working as a home chef during lockdown as my daughter encouraged me to start something on my own. Cooking has always been my passion so I started taking food orders from home and got a great response,” says home chef Kajal Sanjay Tekwani. The lockdown offered a great platform to hidden talent in the culinary field. “Several people who are good at baking and cooking started a food takeaway business from home. Moreover, more and more people wish to consume home cooked food instead of eating out at restaurants. Food from home chefs is not only considered safe but also a preferred choice because of its customisation. Everything from the taste and texture of food to the ingredients being used in cooking can be customised. Overall, there is a rise in the demand of home cooked food as people feel it’s healthier as compared to food available at restaurants,” says Mitul Shah, food blogger and brand consultant.

Weekly menus, festive specials and meal spreads
With several startups aiding home chefs with delivery services, marketing as well as curating menus, most home chefs say their business has been booming. “I have daily specials; mainly a new set of two-three items on my menu on a daily basis. Since I am a Sindhi, dal pakwan and bread roll are my specialities. However, I make bruschetta, pasta and several dishes from different cuisines. For Navratri, I will be introducing fasting specialties like sabudana khichdi and sabudana wada. For the health conscious lot, I can make these delicacies with less spices and oil. Since I am operating from home, I can only offer a limited number of items every day,” says Tekwani. Most home chefs launch weekly menus and daily specials to keep it exciting, simple, hassle-free.”My husband and I are running a Lebanese restaurant since last eight years. During lockdown, I felt the need to start something from home. I started taking orders for Lebanese food and got a great response. Now, I get requests for pizzas, smoothies and vegan dishes too. I create special weekend and and dinner spreads for family get togethers. Moreover, I launch a new menu every 15 days and most of my dishes are made from seasonal ingredients. I have recently introduced cactus smoothie for people who will be fasting during Navratri,” says restaurateur and home chef Lipy Bafna.

Home chefs – a favourite among party people
While parties and large gatherings are prohibited, people have started hosting small at-home gatherings. “Since there are no mass garba events happening this year, I am planning to organise a festive get together for my family and some friends from my apartment. For the same, I will be ordering some traditional Gujarati delicacies as well as farali items like fafda, jalebi, radbi etc from a home chef. Considering the current situation, I prefer having my food made in a home kitchen rather than a restaurant kitchen. This way, I know I will be serving my guests hot, fresh, seasonal items. Also, cooking everything on my own can be exhausting and home chefs are a perfect solution. Ordering from home chefs gives me a much-needed break from cooking,” says homemaker Janhavi Solanki. There are several home chefs who also take care of the table setting and cutlery. “I had recently ordered a meal from a home chef in my city. The food was not only delivered at home but also laid out on the dining table beautifully. A lot of attention is paid to the presentation, keeping the occasion in mind. Table setting is done very professionally and looks like the host is offering a 5-star experience at home,” says entrepreneur Dipti Juneja.

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