Authenticook offers you home food with local families
Not all those who wander are lost. We know JRR Tolkien’s not too far off when Ameya Deshpande, Priyanka Deshpande and Aneesh Dhairyawan find inspiration for their dream startup while ambling down a road in Leh city. In an exclusive interaction with Nandhini Ramkumar, Deshpande speaks about ‘Authenticook,’ a company that offers cuisines from diverse region with local families in cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Pune, Goa, Kochi, Jaipur, Udaipur and Delhi.
We were hunting for some Ladakhi food in Leh market. While a simple local meal would have been awesome, we only found burger and pasta joints instead. And that’s how the idea of diverse culinary experience closer home came into being.
Authenticook could be a delightful experience for foodies as it serves home-cooked food like Kashmiri Rogan Josh or a Udipi platter in Mumbai. The food joint makes it possible by connecting people with home chefs who serve the best of their heritage food. Since it’s not a financially viable option for hotels to focus on specialized cuisines we tried to fill in that gap by making dishes available from across the states such as Konkan, Malvani, Kohlapuri, Khandeshi, Koyi or Pathare Prabhu.
We realized soon enough that quality is of utmost importance when it comes to food. Authenticook takes several parameters into consideration to provide the best experience. We have a thorough checklist and one of our teammates visits the home chefs for a vetting process. In the process, cleanliness, taste, quality and the ability of the hosts to interact and converse about the heritage and specialties of their cuisines come into play. This is what makes Authenticook unique.
Authenticook has managed to connect with over 80 homechefs so far who have hosted over 250 home-events, over 1600 guests and more. Since 2015 when the idea was piloted, Authenticook has only been growing bigger with good feedback. We are connecting foodies from across Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore and exploring options in Delhi as well. Supply is not a problem when people are looking to showcase their skills. The increasing migratory population has also worked in our favour as people are open to new experiences and willing to step out of their comfort zones. We have had guest bookings from across different age groups.
Given the number of food startups and phone applications, the sector is bound to be saturated soon. Authenticook has still managed to stay unique despite the competition. While restaurants are certainly not our competition, nor we do mere food delivery which is largely transactional in nature. We find our relevance in the ability to provide authentic culinary experiences through a home-cooked meal that strikes a personal chord. Here the brand engagement is high without being too loud. The competition too is internal where we try to outdo ourselves.
While the startup is currently bootstrapped, it comes with its own challenges. We work on a commission basis unlike consumer e-commerce centers. Pricing is key in such models and food costs are not a constant. Pricing of our meals too differ from city to city. Also, we take into consideration the fact that our home chefs are not buying groceries in bulk like restaurants. All this reflects in the quality, taste and the experience itself. The price of the meals varies from Rs 500- Rs 1500 based on the cuisine and veg/non-veg options.
At the moment the challenge is mainly in terms of visibility. Making people understand the concept of Authenticook requires capital. We are working on it. While social media and ‘word of mouth’ keep us going, we have been lucky to be covered by eminent publications such as Lonely Planet and Nat Geo Traveller. All this has contributed to people connecting with us. We also have plans to conduct events and participate in food festivals. Though the current focus is India and Indian food, we have managed to do a pilot in Boston, USA as well.
There’s still a long way to go. But we hope for the best.
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