Introducing the featured Gourmetpreneur of the week, That Food Co.
That Food Co. is a niche food brand specialising in Gourmet Accompaniments and also Gourmet Catering for select events and special occasions. The products of That Food Co. can be broadly categorised as Relishes, Sauces, Cookie Butters, Pickles and Flavoured Butters. It offers some delightfully unique products such as Oreo Cookie Butter, Ginger Cream Cookie Butter, Hyderabadi Mutton Pickle, Damn Hot Sauce, Peri Peri Flavoured Butter, Bacon and Balsamic Flavoured Butter, Bacon and Onion Relish, Desi Barbecue Sauce and Pickled Beetroots to name a few. The kitchen of That Food Co. is currently working behind the scenes to soon introduce a range of Ready-to-eat dishes.
The journey of That Food Co. had an eventful start (quite literally ) as it started off as a brand offering gourmet catering for events with the initial thought process of the co-founders being: food is the highlight of any event, it brings people together and creates memories. Ask them about their erstwhile days and this is what they have to say “We wanted to be the best in the industry known for our themed-food. We would create menus and dishes according to the event we were participating in. For example, we did green burgers (The Hulk Burgers) for Comicon Mumbai and Pune and Tapas for Eat India Festival. Each pop-up we did, had a different menu suited to the audience and theme. This did well for us and customers loved us.”
Having wowed the audiences at events, it was a strategic decision of the co-founders to shift the focus of That Food Co. towards offering a range of handcrafted gourmet Spreads/Dips/Sauces/Butters as this helped generate regular demand and gain brand recognition. While That Food Co. still offers gourmet catering for select events and special occasions, the focus widely remains on their product range of Gourmet Accompaniments and even while catering for events, the co-founders endeavour to synergise the event with its existing range of products.
Meet Nehal, Gia, Priya, Laveena and Nikunj, the co-founders and Gourmetpreneurs of That Food Co. Their food journey and story of coming together can be best described by a popular quote “We don’t meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason.” Read on to know more about how these 5 individuals from diverse backgrounds met each other at different places and different times to eventually join hands to give their love and passion for all things gourmet in the form of That Food Co.
Before we dive in to tell you how these different individuals met and ultimately how That Food Co. happened to them, let us first build up the sequence of events by narrating a little about each of them and their individual journeys.
Meet Nehal Karkera, a chef specialising in Italian cuisine and a food lover to the core. Nehal always aspired to start a gourmet food delivery business of his own that would make available cuisines from across the world to people at their doorsteps. To further his gourmet aspirations, he went on to acquire a formal degree in Food and Hospitality and thereafter worked as a Head Chef with a popular Italian restaurant, Mia Cucina for over 6 years. As with any great chef, Nehal knows his ingredients and loves experimenting with food.
Meet Gia Fernandes, a graphics and brand designer by profession. Being a much talented designer, it isn’t surprising that she had designer aspirations for her career and though she always had a deep rooted love for food, little did she envisage that she would go on to become a Gourmetpreneur of a niche gourmet food company.
Meet Priya Chandhak, Laveena Punjabi and Nikunj Sharma, who all interestingly have studied electronic engineering and that too from the same university. Yes, it indeed is interesting that although they all studied electronic engineering at the same university, the Birla Institute of Technology and Science in Goa, they had never met or interacted with each other during their university days probably because they belonged to different batches: Priya was senior to Laveena, who in turn, was senior to Nikunj.
After university, Priya went on to acquire a masters degree in business administration from one of the most premier institutions, the Indian Institute of Management in Kozhikode. Priya has always been an avid food lover and though her choice of academics didn’t reflect anything to do with food, she had her heart set on the food industry and was working towards setting up a a food delivery company of her own in Mumbai after completing her education.
Laveena on the other hand, not only had entrepreneurial aspirations but also had an underlying passion for food and although her choice of academics or initial career choices didn’t reflect her passions she decided to pursue them later on. After graduating from university, she worked with Deloitte for 2 years but her entrepreneurial mindset coupled with her desire to be part of the start-up ecosystem played an important role in making her quit her job to work with a food startup in Delhi. Working with a food startup soon made her realise that a establishing a food startup of her own was perhaps the best venture that she could pursue to combine and nurture her passions for food and entrepreneurship.
Coincidentally, like Laveena, Nikunj also went on to work with Deloitte for a while after graduating from university. Having an entrepreneurial mindset, he was continuously on the lookout for an opportunity that would inspire him enough to start his own business. Nikunj too has always been a diehard foodie but little did he know that it was the food business which would motivate him to take the leap.
Well, now that we’ve told you a little about each of them, you must be wondering all these individuals from diverse backgrounds met and eventually came together to form That Food Co.
The story of them meeting is as interesting and eventful as it sounds: Nehal and Gia are a couple much in love. Nehal quit his job as a head chef to start his dream food venture with his girlfriend, Gia who wholeheartedly supported him to set it up whilst still working at her erstwhile job. Priya and Laveena who were both working towards setting up their own food startup company were introduced to each other and they soon bonded over their common passions and aspirations. Laveena who had worked with Nikunj earlier at Deloitte, reconnected with him on a food related group on a social media site and they soon got talking about their entrepreneurial aspirations. Nikunj who was looking for a perfect opportunity to give wings to his entrepreneurial dreams was so excited and inspired by the food industry and about Laveena and Priya’s venture that he finally decided to take the leap and come onboard. Much interestingly, Nikunj had earlier met Nehal at a house party of a common friend and was already in informal discussions with Nehal for collaborating with Nehal in his upcoming venture of a food delivery business. Voila, that’s how they all happened to meet, connect, discuss and bond over what they all loved most: food, food and food. They liked each other so much that they decided to come together to set up That Food Co. Whoa, that indeed is some meeting or networked connection of sorts that actually worked for That Food Co. 😀 <3
Reminiscing their initial days, the co-founders recall the heartwarming response that That Food Co. received during a very popular event that they catered for, the Comicon in Mumbai. Although they had prepared the food based on an estimated footfall of the event that was given to them, the response of the audiences to their food creations was so tremendous that the food arranged for 2 days was over in less than 3 hours, which resulted in them running around in the middle of the event to prepare 5 times of burgers and hot dogs that they had already made, and that too in record time with the orders coming in non-stop. Kudos and more power to that
The Oreo Cookie Butter of That Food Co. is so delectable that the co-founders have an extremely interesting statistic associated with its popularity and sales. According to their secret survey whilst selling Oreo Cookie Butter at an event, the first 38 people (out of a sample size involving 39 people) who tried it, all ended up buying it and the 39th person was the only one who didn’t buy it, that too because he didn’t want to carry a glass bottle with him while travelling. We don’t want to doubt that for even a second because to be real honest the sound of Oreo Cookie Butter makes us want to buy it and start gorging on it already! And, it isn’t surprising that such fun and interesting statistics for gauging customer response emerge from the culmination of the varied skills and expertise of a chef, designer, business administration graduate and engineering students, ex-Deloitte professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs <3
Ask them about their approach towards food and this is what they had to say “When we got together, the idea was simple, turn everyone into a foodie and world will be a happier place. The way to do that – make awesome food easy to make and easily available. We launched our range of Sauces, Relishes, Pickles, Flavoured Butter and Cookie Butter. We are the first and only Indian Brand to introduce Cookie Butter in India which we swear by! All our products are carefully designed in line with our mission to make good food easily to prepare and to achieve this we also ensure that they are multi-purpose so that anyone can prepare a number of dishes with it. We love food so much that we want everyone to eat awesome food, because we strongly believe good food=true happiness.”
The kitchen of That Food Co. is constantly experimenting to innovate and expand its product range. The co-founders are always excited about the food tasting meetings of That Food Co. Nikunj is playfully kept at bay by the others from these food tasting sessions to avoid all the food being eaten up before they can taste any of it because his reputation of having a sweet tooth (or should we say sweet jaw ) precedes him – the joke is on him that he loves desserts and goodies so much that he could eat up an entire sweet shop in less than 30 seconds. 😀
Well, don’t you think that for Nehal, Gia, Priya, Laveena and Nikunj, it was no accident that their journeys brought them together to set up That Food Co. and it was for a very good reason that they met and crossed each other’s paths? If not, we wouldn’t have delectable gourmet goodness to gorge on from That Food Co.! We don’t know about you but their story gives us goosebumps and makes us want to believe that there is so much more than coincidence for everyone you meet, they shape your destiny in ways you cannot imagine. <3<3<3
What are you waiting for? Don’t freak out your taste buds by making them crave for the delectable gourmet creations of That Food Co. for too long. Order your share now and give your meals the perfect company they crave for
Click here to visit That Food Co. Page on ITG.