Community explores ‘Meals on Wheels’ as business opportunity and to bring little-known cuisine to the masses
Working on the principle that if you cannot go to the restaurant (simply because there is no restaurant at all), the restaurant will come to you, The Maharastrian East Indian Christian Federation (MEICF) that works for the upliftment of the East Indian community is to launch a ‘Meals on Wheels’ initiative in September.
MEICF members discuss ‘Food on Wheels’ initiative at Bandra Gymkhana with caterers and investors. Pic/Atul Kamble
The community had a meeting at the Bandra Gymkhana late last week, to work out the logistics of getting an East Indian Food Truck on the road. A food truck is a large vehicle equipped to cook and sell food. These trucks sell frozen or prepackaged food; others have on-board kitchens and prepare food from scratch. The food truck has gained popularity of late, because of the pop-up restaurant phenomenon.
The MEICF has envisioned the food truck to be like this and says, it will roam around the city serving East Indian delicacies
Food trucks are slowly becoming part of the culinary cityscape here. Late last year, a 12-foot long Bombay Food Truck was started. It had grills, fryers, exhaust fans, the works and was dishing out street-style gourmet fare, priced between R 100 and Rs 200.
At the meeting, attended by community leaders, caterers and TATA representatives, (the community has zeroed in on the Tata Ace truck) at a cost of R seven lakh, Herbert Barretto, President of the MEICF said, “We have managed to get about 50 per cent of the money needed for the truck, which is about R 4, 25,000. Our community does not have a restaurant. Not many know what exactly is authentic East Indian food, this initiative seeks to change that.”
General Secretary of MEICF, Alphonso Tao added, “The total cost is R 7 lakh with licence, RTO, body modifications everything. We have ambitious plans, and have given ourselves a September deadline. Initially, we are not expecting profits but we hope to recover what has been invested and not suffer losses.”
The Bandra meeting followed a first meeting in Dadar last month. Steps are being taken to firm up plans and get the show on the road, both literally and metaphorically.
Renitta Monteiro, one of the caterers of the project from Orlem, Malad said, “We have to promote East Indian cuisine, which is really not on the radar of Mumbaikars. We will cook duck, sorpotel, vindaloo, make Easter eggs, Christmas sweets and even bottled masala which is a traditional East Indian secret. Mutton Kuddi, East Indian papad, pickle, phugyas will be on the food truck menu.”
With licenses still to come, charting exact routes may be premature, but initially, the plan is to take the truck to Bandra, Malad, Juhu, Kurla, Dadar and Andheri. Yogesh D’Souza from MEICF said, “We selected these areas after some brainstorming over demographics and culinary choices. Goan and Manglorean food has proved a hit, now it is the time for the food of the original Mumbaikar to start rolling.”
Food trucks are now on the radar of the Mumbaikar, also because of movies like Chef — the American comedy-drama featuring a professional chef who, after a public altercation with a food critic, quits his job at a restaurant and starts a food truck.
“Dried fish, Bombay Duck, fish curries and fish fry will be sold. The food truck, is a business opportunity, first, but it is also a mobile window for our culinary talent. Earlier, this talent was on show at East Indian fests and home parties, now, of course we will reach the common man,” ends Connie Remedios, another caterer.