October 18, 2015
What are the options available for a private bank employee who wants information about the best place to eat in Coimbatore? Social media? Ask her friends and relatives? Google? But, Lalitha Gautam, a bank employee, did the opposite.
Necessity sure is the mother of all inventions. Lalitha decided to start a platform that enables people to share everything that is related to food. Thus, Kovai Foodies was born in March 2013 as a closed Facebook group. From cooking and serving tips, to best places to shop for ingredients, this Facebook group also offers suggestions on the best places to eat in the city.
During the first year of its inception, Kovai Foodies group had around 2,500. It has now increased to 6,400. Members include mess owners, home bakers, homemakers, food enthusiast, and people associated with the hotel industry in Coimbatore. A few active members of this group post recipes on a regular basis. Food reviews on eat-outs visited by its members in the city are also posted on the wall. There are several posts that educated the members about the health benefits of a specific ingredient. “The basic idea is to connect food lovers in the city. I’m not able to manage the group on my own and recently I added Vijaya Krishnan Rajagopalan, a city-based entrepreneur and a foodie, as joint administrator,” Lalitha says.
In order to increase the group interaction, the group’s administrators continue to initiate various members-only events. Till date the group has organized several food walks covering many areas in the city. An area is chosen and eat-outs in that particular area are visited by its members, one after the other. A lot of dishes are tried and the bill amount is shared by all the members who visited the food joint.
One of the most successful events that were organized by the group’s founder was the fireless cooking contest. Celebrity chef Damu was the special guest. The contest was open to non-members as well. Participants could pair with their friends or family. They were asked to prepare a dish sans fire. However, the organizers allowed participants to boil the ingredients at home and bring them to the competition.
The contest was a phenomenal hit. Many of the participants were first-timers. Judging this contest along with Chef Damu was Bernard Esward, HoD of Catering Department of Shankara College of Arts and Science. The winning teams walked away with kitchen merchandize worth Rs.5,000, Rs.3,000 and Rs.1,500.
Post the contest, Chef Damu demonstrated how to prepare dishes like Kathirikai, Murangakkai Sambar (brinjal, drumstick sambar), Paneer Kababs, and Poondu vatha kulambu among others. In another session, he demonstrated how to make desserts like Kasi halwa, custard, and jelly. He also clarified a number of doubts and replied to the audience queries during the interactive session.
This year Kovai Foodies joined hands with a social service organization and a corporate house and organized a cooking contest to celebrate Women’s Day. The closed group is one of the most active city-based groups on Facebook.