From serving up delectable meals to arranging the setting, ChefSocial gives users a unique experience of fine dining at home.
At a glance
Founders: Akash Devaraju, Rachit Garg
Year it was founded: 2015
Where is it based: Bengaluru
The problem it solves: Helps people to experience fine dining in a private setting
How many times have you tried to enjoy a quiet meal at your favourite Italian restaurant, only to be interrupted by pushy waiters or a wailing baby at the table next to you?
Many an anniversary, birthday and marriage proposal have been celebrated over good food and wine, but imagine you could have the same experiences, right from the comfort of your own home.
If you want to have a really special, private sit-down dinner made just for you and your loved ones at home, Bengaluru-based ChefSocial can be of help. A novel concept in the country, the startup is now climbing up the popularity ladder with food connoisseurs.
ChefSocial focuses on private dining for people who prefer quiet ambiance to loud chatter in a restaurant. The startup sends executive chefs and sommeliers from the best hotels in the city as well as independent chefs to the client’s home to prepare food. For premium clients, it serves dinner with alcohol and cocktails as well.
Akash Devaraju, Co-founder and CEO of ChefSocial, and a self-proclaimed foodie, attaches great importance to clients’ individual preferences.
The team sets the mood for the occasion by providing not just food, but also the decor, cutlery, table, and chairs. All the ingredients are sourced by the team so that the client can just relax over a hot meal served on premium cutlery, crockery or glassware, whatever may be her preference.
“Our startup also helps chefs come out of their comfort zone and prepare a menu different from that in the restaurant,” says Akash.
How does it work?
If you want to have private, luxury dining experience, you can book your dining experience by calling up the concierge service of ChefSocial. After understanding the client's cuisine preferences, theme, budget, dietary restrictions if any and number of diners, ChefSocial recommends a chef from its team to work with the client to develop a menu unique to their event. Clients have to book at least two weeks in advance. The team contacts the client, and then visits the venue. ChefSocial generally takes up small events of less than 30 guests.
On the day of the event, the chef, along with an assistant, four service staff, and a cleaner, arrive at the client’s home. The team also takes pictures of the event, if the client so wishes.
No piece of cake
Born and raised in Nagpur, education and work brought Akash, 27, to Bengaluru. Akash’s passion for food made him venture out to make ChefSocial concept of a reality.
Having worked as a web developer in two previous companies, it was easy for him to set up the website for ChefSocial where people can book their preferred chefs.
Rachit, 26, was his mentee from one of the tech companies he had started and now handles the business and logistics at ChefSocial.
Akash recalls his initial struggles of convincing chefs to work for him. Things got better as it grew. He was able to get the chefs excited and on board after conducting few events and showing them how well they went through pictures and other ways.
“The pleasure of sitting down at the table and the art of hosting are all going away. People are always on their phone. We focus on the experience of sitting down and enjoying the conversation at the table,” says Akash.
The team has conducted over 200 events in a span of 2.5 years, with 10–12 events per month, including brunches, lunches, high teas and dinners. They have on-boarded executive chefs – both independent chefs and those who work at establishments. ChefSocial has a total of 24 chefs and sommeliers with 80 percent being women.
On ChefSocial’s clientele, Akash says that they are mostly from the art, fashion and music industry, or those who have had prior experience with global cuisines.
Initially bootstrapped, the team is now in talks with investors and is open to funding options.
Akash says that ChefSocial has been profitable since its first event and claims to be steadily doubling its growth every year.
ChefSocial charges an event depending on the complexity of the menu and the additional facilities. On an average, it comes in the range of Rs 2,000 - Rs 13,000 per person.
The team believes in the importance of creating an atmosphere that lets its clients suffuse themselves in a few hours of good food, music and ambiance.
Though ChefSocial was started with just the idea of private dining, it has expanded its verticals in the past six months.
- Serendipity – This is when people gather at a designated place for dining. The team creates a theme and puts it out on social media for the followers, who can book their spots and then assemble at the indicated venue. The themes can be varied, like Italian, Lebanese, Japanese and Indian cuisine with accompanying music and atmospherics.
- The Market – The team curates artisan products such as breads and cheeses that people can buy and make meals out of. They can either shop from Facebook or order by contacting the team. ChefSocial caters to requests from all over the country, though its primary focus is on Bengaluru.
- Alchemy – This B2B vertical helps people set up restaurants by giving them assistance in food and beverage services. ChefSocial helps set up interiors, and assists in the appointing and training of staff, preparing menu etc.
- Atelier – Atelier focuses on fabricating precise equipment. This includes crafting knife rolls, knife sheaths, bar equipment, chef equipment etc, which are otherwise expensive.
The food services market in India is projected to grow to Rs 4.98 trillion by 2021 by an annual average rate of 10 percent, according to the NRAI-Technopak report.
With more and more Indians wishing to get a taste of the fine dining experience, eating out at luxury restaurants is no longer the preserve of the rich. Mumbai-based Hopping Chef runs a similar concept, where chefs serve on a bigger scale.
ChefSocial is planning to expand its market operations to Jaipur and Delhi. “In Delhi, people appreciate fine cuisine and have taste for art, literature and fashion, which comprises our major audience group, and is an ideal place for private dinners and artisanal marketplace. Jaipur is serene, studded with beautiful art, history and places to have an experience, a good place for our Serendipity and Artisan Market vertical,” adds Akash.
With the middle class opening up to culinary experiments, startups like ChefSocial have got their plates full in the coming months.