This startup unlocks rich culinary and cultural experiences for foodies and travel enthusiastsDeepika Singhania
This story is sponsored by Tissot.
Learning about ancient Nashik while discussing Harry Potter and cooking up delicious fare such as Misal Pav and Ansa Phansachi Bhaji with strangers you’ve never met before, but are getting along with famously. This is just one of the culturally-rich experiences that Wandering Foodie offers.
This Nashik-based startup offers people a chance to discover places off the regular tourist map and an opportunity to discover the best of India’s cuisine. Co-founded by Rahul Patil and Vinod Sarma in October 2015, the startup aims to promote regional Indian cuisines and help each region create a distinct food identity.
Food always wins
Talking about how it began, Rahul says,
“We wanted to combine our love for food with travel, and culinary tourism provided us a great opportunity to pursue this interest. So, we decided to dive deep into each regional cuisine and tell the story through specific dishes.”
This kind of passion is one of the reasons why this startup has won the Tissot Signature Innovators Club Award for February 2017. “It always feels good when someone recognises you as an innovator. And coming from a brand like Tissot, it definitely calls for a celebration,” he adds.
Culinary tourism has taken off across the world in the last few years. In India, the concept was mainly restricted to North India and Kerala. However, the response to Wandering Foodie has been very encouraging. They’ve hosted more than 600 guests on tours and the numbers are only increasing.
The learning process
After quitting their jobs at Asian Paints and Deloitte respectively, Rahul and Vinod started their journey by offering culinary tours in Nashik. They contacted and collaborated with knowledgeable locals to get access to the most authentic food available.
The positive response led them to venture further into Alibaug, followed by Mumbai. Tours aside, they also have a range of exclusive food products that they’re selling via Amazon.
The college friends, who have a background in engineering background, and virtually no experience in the hospitality sector has to work hard to earn credibility, especially from the influencers in this space. Gradually word got around, and redemption came in the form of them being featured on Discovery Channel.
In 2016, Wandering Foodie was also part of Amazon Launchpad, a platform for select startups in India.
Growth is inevitable
The Wandering Foodie consists of activities that are not part of your run-of-the-mill vacations. These include cooking local food, dining in a farm, exploring the agriculture and history of the region, while getting a hands-on experience with authentic dishes and recipes.
While competition is sparse so far, the duo feels that with the variety of regional available in India, there is immense opportunity for growth in this space. But there need to be more organised players who can vouch for the quality and authenticity of the food.
“Our culinary tours in Nashik are a welcome change for urban dwellers, who hardly get to visit farms, cook food and live the slow life in harmony with nature. Meanwhile, the Mumbai tours help them discover various traditional cuisines in different pockets of the city,” says Rahul.
The road so far...
At the moment, they’re covering the Khandesh region and Mumbai, but are looking to grow bigger. They want their food products to do extremely well, and continue to polish the tour experience for their customers.
Currently, they’re looking to raise funds to develop further and expand the team and distribution network. Rahul says, “Since our products are doing well, we are now focusing on expanding our range and promoting them aggressively, while exploring retail channels as well.”
All regional cuisines have hidden treasures which can only be discovered with the help of an experienced local resident. The Wandering Foodie unlocks these rich experiences for its customers. It helps keep several traditional recipes alive while offering an authentic local experience.
In this respect, they are the true innovators.