India's food truck innovators

Jun 11, 2014, 09:25 IST | Soma Das

Upcoming Hollywood movie, Chef, is based on a chef who starts a food truck after he loses his job. In India, the idea of food trucks is gaining ground, slowly. Soma Das found five such risk-takers across the country

Sweetish House Mafia, Mumbai
A Nano bedecked with images of cupcakes and cookies and dispensing baked desserts; that’s the idea behind Sweetish House Mafia (SHM), which launched last April. Its founder is in her 20s and prefers to remain anonymous.

She loves baking and went ‘mobile’ to avoid being bogged down by schedules. To catch the truck, people can check her Twitter and Facebook updates. “In an age where social media is taking over, it was the natural path to follow. There isn’t only the experience of eating the goodies but hunting for them as well,” she states.

Sweetish House Mafia’s vehicle

Popular items include Nutella Sea Salties, Red Velvet Sandwiches and Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwiches.

Desserts by SHM
Desserts by SHM

The challenge, admits the owner, is to keep baking new stuff and not run out of goodies. The SHM Nano travels across the city and has delivered in Andheri, Bandra, Juhu and Chembur.
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Dosa Place, Hyderabad
Dosa Place was started by foodie Ajay Koneru (35), who decided to start a restaurant when he was in the US. “I studied the market and felt there was a vacuum in the food truck industry in India,” he states.

Dosa Place offers 111 varieties of dosas, and will soon offer idlis. They plan to introduce more trucks and venture to other cities.

The Dosa Place whips up nearly 111 types of dosas

Stoves, inverters and generators are what keeps Dosa Place going. Koneru also designed and customised the food truck which has special lighting.
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Chill Grill, Pune
Chill Grill was the dream of Salman Shaikh and his friend Rahul Sheral, while they were studying engineering. By the end of it, they decided to set up an eatery for students. The idea of a food truck came from watching food and travel channels. With another college mate keen on a food-related venture, the trio started Chill Grill in February 2012.

A vehicle was customised to serve food on the run. Says Shaikh, “Shawarma was selected as it was a personal favourite and pocket-friendly. Being grilled, it’s healthier than burgers and rolls.” They serve Falafel and four kinds of Shawarmas.

They are planning to open more outlets at IT campuses and eventually start such a venture on a double decker bus.
Quiz him about the permissions required, and Shaikh mentions the Shop Act License,  Fire Safety Certificate, NOC from RTO and municipal corporation, Food and Drug license (FSSAI) and updated vehicle papers.
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Jugmug Thela, Delhi
The main draw of Jugmug Thela founded by Jiten Suchede (33) in February 2013 is tea and coffee prepared with fresh ingredients.

Jugmug Thela
Jugmug Thela

The menu includes Gujarati Masala Chai and Hojmi Cha of Kolkata, as well as organic coffees from Kerala to Costa Rica.

Tea and coffee-based ice pops

They operate out of private venues. Next, Suchede wants to wheel the thela all the way to Mumbai. Interestingly, he built the thela as well.
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SuperSucker, Delhi
SuperSucker was started in September 2013 by Melbourne-trained chef Karan Malik. Salads and fruit blends (smoothies) are the main items at the truck.


They also serve healthy fast food such as wraps, hot dogs and sandwiches (with brown bread, grilling instead of frying, nutritious fillings, etc). Malik wants to start catering services whereby the truck will drop by at the location to cater to guests. The truck has catered at public events, including the NH7 Weekender Delhi and Sunburn Music Festival.
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How a chef became a food truck success
Chef is an American comedy directed, written and starring Jon Favreau as chef Carl Casper who manages the kitchen of a restaurant in Los Angeles.

Film stills from Chef

He loses his job and starts a food truck to get back at his critics.

The cast comprises Sofia Vergara and Dustin Hoffman, among others, and is slated to release  on June 20.

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