What’s on the menu tomorrow?

15th Jul, 2018

| by Nanditha Vasudev , nanditha_vasudev

That’s the question I ask Mr.Venkatesh at the end of my day, every day of the week. Mr.Venkatesh and his wife Mrs.Ramaa Venkatesh deliver breakfast to my place, every day by about 9 AM. I am extremely thankful to them for the yummy dishes I get to eat, made with so much love.

Akki rotti (roti made of rice flour), poori with savoury curry, masala dosa, fluffy idlis, tasty upma, and vegetable poha – there is a different dish for every day of the week. They also deliver a sumptuous lunch of chapati, subjee, rasam, sambar and rice for those who find it too much of an effort to cook every day. Hygienically prepared at home with quality ingredients, the food they make is not just tasty but healthy too. Thankfully, unlike other caterers, their meals are light on the tummy, without much oil or spice.

It all started when Venkatesh visited the Raghavendra Swamy Temple about two years ago. A certain gentleman, whom he knew well, asked him if he knew anyone who could cook meals for them, at their home. He also asked if Venkatesh’s wife Ramaa could do it. However, Venkatesh told him that he could instead deliver homemade food to his place. The gentleman happily agreed to this offer.

Venkatesh consulted his wife at home and told her about this offer that he had made to the gentleman at the temple. To Ramaa, this seemed like the perfect solution to the financial problems they were facing at that time. From then on there was nothing to stop them. Word started to spread around and the number of clients kept increasing by the week. None of them wanted to end this arrangement as it was very convenient.

The day starts with the couple at 5 in the morning when Mr.Venkatesh kneads the dough for chapatis and grates the coconut for the chutney. Ramaa single-handedly prepares the breakfast and the lunch, while Venkatesh pays his daily visit to the temple. By the time he is back, all the items (both for breakfast and lunch) are ready to be packed.
Venkatesh packs all the tiffin according to the orders received on the previous day. For most of his clients, this is a regular arrangement with a specified number of tiffins, unless there is a change in their routine.
Once the tiffins are packed, Venkatesh loads them on to his scooter and starts delivering them to his clients. Then he gets ready and goes to his workplace. He works in a travels company where his job is to allocate cars on rent. Ramaa delivers food to two or three houses in the neighbourhood and then goes about with her daily chores. She looks after her ageing mother-in-law when she is not cooking.

On his way back, Venkatesh buys the provisions and vegetables required for the next day and sits with his wife cutting the vegetables. This goes on until about 10 pm and sometimes till 11 when the number of orders is more. They also cater food for birthday parties and family get-togethers. If there is something extra they pack them along with the rest of the orders and deliver them to their regular clients, absolutely free of charge. Venkatesh says it is his way of keeping his clients happy.

There are times when his job at the car rental company gets hectic, says Venkatesh. But the joy that he sees on the faces of his clients when he delivers the food makes all their efforts worthwhile.
“There are many elderly couples who find it difficult to carry out their daily tasks. Cooking seems like a herculean task for them, considering their low energy levels,” said Venkatesh while speaking to me one day. “Helping them is the main objective behind starting my business. I want to help as many people as possible by delivering homemade healthy and tasty food at their doorstep every single day and I am happy my wife is with me at every step.”

Of course, there is the money; but that’s not the only motivation that keeps Venkatesh and Rama going. They try and deliver maximum value to their clients. For Rs.60, the breakfast they give is almost double the quantity that I can get from a restaurant. Even if you are a heavy eater, the lunch of Rs.100 will seem more than adequate to fill your tummy. All in all, it is a win-win situation for everyone.

Venkatesh and Ramaa have proved it to the world that hard work and determination can solve any problem, however, complicated it may be. When I asked him to give a message to people who want to start a catering business from their homes, this is what he said…

“Don’t think of this as a way to make money. Think about all the people you are helping by taking away their worries of preparing food every single day. New clients will keep coming. But it is very important to retain your existing clients by delivering healthy and hygienically-prepared food. Never compromise on the quality of the ingredients you use.”

Nanditha Vasudev

Nanditha Vasudev

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