For your next party, imagine your house turned into a fine dining set-up — complete with personalised cutlery etched with your guests’ names and a selection of the finest single malts to keep the conversations going. What would take the cake is having a five-star chef to man the kitchen while you socialise. With ‘R Chef at Home’ — a service launched by Powai’s Renaissance Hotel — guests enjoy luxury dining in the comfort of their homes. “Today, people are looking for more than just good food. Services like ‘R Chef at Home’ are able to provide tailor-made experiences,” says Nasir Shaikh, Director of Operations at the hotel. And, don’t worry about cleaning up after the party; the service covers that too. This exclusive experience, however, comes with a price tag as high as Rs 1 lakh a person.
Similarly, the five-month-old company Hopping Chef allows its clients to pick a chef from a panel of five to take over their kitchen for an evening. Be it a romantic dinner or a house party, their staff arrive with utensils and ingredients to create a special menu. “We focus on good quality ingredients, presentation of food and creative menus,” says founder Shaival Chandra.
Recently, the company organised an intimate sit-down dinner party hosted by businessman and socialite Raja Dhody at his Worli residence. Guests were given individual menu cards that listed dishes such as Mushroom cappuccino with porcini dust, Pomfret roulade and Paan panacotta for dessert. The curious diners also indulged in a little chat with the chefs and borrowed a few cooking tips.
A prevalent concept in the West, niche services such as ‘R Chef at Home’ and Hopping Chef offer exclusivity without hassles. For instance, many chefs in the US are listed on various rent-a-chef services across the country and, like their Indian counterparts, offer more than just food. They can even accommodate requests for bartenders, servers and even tables and chairs, which sums up the fine dining experience at home. Chef and popular television host Ranveer Brar, who spent more than seven years in Boston, remembers cooking one such meal for a wealthy Jewish family. “Many people avail these services during Thanksgiving when families come together for an elaborate meal. I see this trend in India too,” he says.
Those who don’t want to get a chef home have the option of getting chef-prepared affordable meals delivered at their doorstep. In Mumbai, services such as TinyOwl and Holachef are filling that gap. Set up last year, Holachef connects professional chefs and talented home chefs with foodies. Tired of local delivery options ranging from unhealthy pizzas and rolls to expensive restaurant menus, two IIT Bombay alumni, Saurabh Saxena and Anil Gelra, started Holachef to help homesick students and busy professionals. “The idea is to provide a mix of delicacies from around the world ranging from regional Indian fare, such as Punjabi, Maharashtrian and Kashmiri to continental options including Italian and Mexican,” says Saxena. For instance, Bhakti Mehta of Little Food Co, who is listed on the website, offers a mean chicken and basil slider on some days and on other days, it is a bowl of couscous salad.
With over 3,000 orders per week, Holachef is fast becoming popular among office-goers for regular lunches as well. Pune-based MealTango, a service that curates local food experiences, recently added a daily dinner menu, which includes chorizo burgers, sindhi kadhi with crispy bhindi and Kashmiri pulao with mutton kofta. “There is a lot of potential in this space and we have only scratched the surface,” says Chandra.
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