mid-day turns 41: Fighting lockdown with lasagna

Updated: Jul 13, 2020, 10:30 IST | Jovita Aranha | Mumbai

Teenage home chef combines his love for gourmet-style cooking with passion for sharing meals with the less-privileged during lockdown

They've helped kids in Sewri, Matunga, Sion, Mahalaxmi, and Lower Parel
They've helped kids in Sewri, Matunga, Sion, Mahalaxmi, and Lower Parel

Dev Dalmia
Founder, The Good Food Drive by masterchef4many

Std X student's Insta page gathers teen volunteers to cook restaurant-style dishes for kids from bastis, shelters

Where charity meals are often associated with humble dal, rice, roti and sabzi, Dev Dalmia, 15, is challenging the stereotype with portions of black bean noodles, ravioli, mac and cheese, chocolate fudge cookies and burgers.

They've helped kids in Sewri, Matunga, Sion, Mahalaxmi, and Lower Parel

The Warden Road resident was 13 when he started The Good Food Drive by masterchef4many to feed lesser privileged kids cooked gourmet meals. With help from his mother Anu, he got four restaurants on board to offer their kitchens and ingredients to a group of teens who'd get together for occasional cookouts. "The lockdown taught me how good food could be a game-changer on a gloomy day. We sent meals to kids in shelters, orphanages and bastis across Sewri, Matunga, Sion, Mahalaxmi and Lower Parel. Since restaurant kitchens were shut, we operated from our home kitchen," he says.

Dev Dalmia cooks fast food for underprivileged kids
Dev Dalmia cooks fast food for underprivileged kids

What began with 19 boxes of masala khichdi served with pickle and mango on May 17, 2020, turned into 12,000-plus gourmet meals cooked by 100 families. "My friends Diya Bhageria and Tanisha Laud were the first to join our food army. We used our WhatsApp networks and created an Instagram page to spread the word. More families came on board each day and stuck on. It warmed our hearts to see young chefs go the extra mile adding more treats with each meal box! Our volunteers were the real superheroes who risked their safety to ensure the meals reached the needy," adds the Class 10 student of The Cathedral and John Connon School. The Shrimad Rajchandra Mission volunteers were instrumental in the distribution. Anu says, "The idea behind the effort is not as much charity as sharing the love that good food brings with it. The kids have sent us thank you notes, cards and handmade key chains." With movement restrictions still in place, the drive is down to once a week. But Dalmia hopes to reach the 50,000 meals mark by the end of the year.

Log on to @masterchef4many, Instagram account

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