Food for thought: When Lore, the pop-up restaurant, came to town

You have heard of pop-up shops, but have you heard of pop-up restaurants? Get ready for curated evenings full of food, fun and story-telling with Lore...

Food has the magical ability to tell stories, say the founders of Lore, the pop-up restaurant which takes Indian cuisine to the next level.

What kind of stories, you ask? Do these stories revolve around food or people?

“Well, both, actually,” says founder, Kaushik Raju. “These food stories could range from the tales of a farmer who has painstakingly grown the finest vegetables on his farm to nostalgic memories that a certain type of food can evoke in your mind.”

So, whether it is a platter of beautiful ragi mudde balls, rolled to perfection or a wok of golden fried shrimp sizzling in a pan or a hint of green pepper lingering in the air that takes you back in time, it becomes a memory that enhances the present experience. This is the premise of Lore which specialises in bringing curated dinners to an exclusive audience.

Food and memories

“We create meals, capture memories and tell stories through our food,” says Kaushik, adding, “We have seen guests react to these stories and this interaction encourages communal gatherings and socialising between guests and the hosts. It allows chefs the creative freedom to truly control the experience of the guests while enabling them to enjoy quality time with the other guests. Each of the dishes acts as an ice breaker or a conversation enhancer.”

Kaushik Raju

The name Lore comes from the art of storytelling or 'folklore', which is what the pop-up restaurant does - tell stories through their food. In addition to this, Lore draws on the concept of “Locavore’, which is a movement of people who prefer to eat locally grown food which is farmed close to them.

Where it began

Kaushik has always enjoyed food, even as a kid. “My fondest memories have been around food. All the money I had was spent on food and of course, since my family has been in the hospitality business for over 45 years, I would spend all my free time in our kitchens.”  

Kaushik first experiment with food was centred around testing a menu which could evoke memories. “Once I saw the great response to my experiment, I wanted to do more and more events around this theme. As a part of my research, I started following avant garde chefs from around the world who demonstrated how they could tell a complete story through food, and that is how the idea of Lore was born,” he says.

The pop-up movement

The pop-ups at Lore are based on a multi-level approach. "My team and I decide on a theme, check the availability of good produce, find a location and then come up with a menu. The concepts change based on the story we are trying to tell,” says Kaushik.

Carrot Softy is one of the dishes created by Lore

The chefs in the Lore team include Johnson Ebenezer, executive head chef, who worked in Malaysia for several years and is now back in India and head chef, Mythrayie S Iyer, alumnus of Department of Culinary Arts, Manipal University, who has worked with ITC and Noma in Copenhagen.

During a pop-up event, Lore arranges communal tables as they are a good way for guests to meet other people. Each dish has a story and enough visual appeal to give them plenty of talking points. “The aim of Lore is to make fine dining fun and interactive while bringing great produce from farms around us to the forefront," says Kaushik.

Events at Lore

Food is a great medium to transport people as one uses all the senses when one eats.

“By manipulating the textures, flavours and smells of food you can get a diner into the desired mind set,” explains Kaushik. "Right from the visual delight of looking at food to the aroma that it gives out to the temperature at which it is served and the texture of the dish -- once all the senses are engaged, the enjoyment of a meal increases immensely."

Lore curates foods that evoke memories like this dish served in a baby's feeding bottle

Lore has already held four pop-ups in Bengaluru, namely, 'Indian Flavours' and 'Circle of Life', besides pop-ups in Goa and Hyderabad.

The first one pop-up was replete with ‘nostalgic flavours’, during which they introduced familiar flavours, in different visual representations. “The guests had to guess what they were eating, and the interesting thing that we noticed was after first 2-3 dishes people started getting better at guessing the name of the dish,” he adds.

"In the pop-up menu called "Circle of Life" we wanted to take people through the journey of life through food. It ended up being a great conversation starter where diners started discussing their first schools, their first crush and other major life events."

Iced apples with Yuzu snow

As for the food, in the event with the Nostalgic Menu, one of the guest’s favorite dishes was Lore's take on the Parsi dish Akuri, which was made with a brioche topped with salted eggs, fermented chillies and 25-year-old Parmesan cheese. In the event with the Circle Of life menu, they served baby food with Umami Milk in a feeding bottle, along with vegetable mash and celeriac crisps.

The other two pop-ups were, “Stories of Glass and Plate” which was an eight-course meal and Virgo and Whisky, which honoured the essence of Virgo, the earth sign, paired with Paul John single malt whisky. 

The pop-ups that were held in other cities were, Sol De Goa, in Goa which was centred around the story of Goa through war, love and peace and “Omnisense” in Hyderabad, which was the story of the senses.

Think local, buy local

The quality of produce makes all the difference. Fresh food always tastes better than food that has been frozen and has travelled for many days to reach you.

Distance changes the flavour of food. “Buying local allows us to support our local farmers who toil day in and day out,” Kaushik recalls.

“One of the first dishes we created as a main course was by with “ridge gourd”. We have never seen this wonderful ingredient being used as the main star of a meal as it is always used as an add-on dish. But we were able to create recipes, using all the parts of the ridge gourd, including the peel. It was so tasty that we had even some of the non-vegetarian guests asking for a portion of it.” 

Planning a curated meal

The first thing that needs to be done is to choose the partner who wants to tell stories through food, says Kaushik, as he explains the process of creating a pop-up restaurant.

“Once we decide a location, we create a menu around it. A lot of thought goes into the ingredients that will be used for each dish and we pick the crockery that best suits each dish. Once that is done, we invite guests to confirm their attendance as soon as possible as last-minute allergies and preferences become hard to accommodate.”

As for the future…

Choosing the location for each Lore pop-up event is not easy. “As of now, we are choosing locations based on collaborations with other hotels, restaurants as well as food and beverage brands,” adds Kaushik. 

Lore is a currently a pop-up concept, but they intend to open a full-fledged restaurant in 2020.


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