Chennai Food Guide is a platform to discuss everything food-related — from restaurants and baking workshops to service tax and jungle survival

“Half way through my Zaffrani Pulao and I realise I don’t have saffron. Where can I get it from at the earliest?” “In the mood to sing. Any karaoke bars in the city?” “Date night tonight. Suggestions for a romantic place?” “Where can I buy the best podis from?”

On the Chennai Food Guide (CFG) page, the queries never stop pouring in, nor do relevant answers to these questions. Members of this group on Facebook, Orkut and Twitter are used to that. For, this forum has almost all the answers to every question that the epicurean mind seeks.

“Chennai Food Guide started out as a network for foodies where they discuss food, restaurants and other related topics. We also talk about issues such as service tax and food pricing, and this platform provides an opportunity for a healthy, real-time discussion between clients and restaurateurs. And it doesn’t stop with that. In its eighth year now, CFG does a lot more,” says Nishanth Radhakrishnan, admin and moderator of Chennai Food Guide.

The group organises meets, events and workshops for its members. “Food photography, baking and barbecue workshops, biriyani cookout, bakers showcase, and jungle survival are some of the events we have organised. Apart from that, there is CFG Restaurant Showcase where restaurants invite CFG’s bloggers to taste their dishes and write about it, and CFG Bloggers Meet. Our recent introduction is the Diners Club where we organise fine dining experience at select restaurants in and around Chennai.”

The portal has given a fillip to home bakers and home cooks. They showcase their creations here, put up photographs and details, and in return, get quite a few orders. Nishanth believes it’s given rise to a new crop of entrepreneurs. And it’s not about the money, but about doing something they have a passion for, be it cooking an aroma-filled biriyani or baking delightful desserts.

CFG got underway in 2004 on Orkut. It was then initiated by Pradeep Raghunathan. What started with 500 members grew to 8,000 over three years. “In Orkut’s segment ‘Orkut Heroes’, we were rated the Best Food Community in the country in 2009,” he says.

On Facebook, CFG got itself a page in 2008, thanks to Mohammed Ali, director of Convenio Food-South India and owner of the CFG group. In the first year it had 1,000 members. Today, it’s got 7,100 members and is growing at the rate of 50 members per day.

It’s only in the last two years that this group has become more popular. “In the last one year, a lot of new eat-outs have opened in Chennai. People are earning better and dining out is a communal activity.” idli-sambar With national and international food chains setting shop here, food enthusiasts are being introduced to new food trends. “Last year it was cupcakes. This time around, it’s all about going back to the roots… there’s keen interest in traditional and street food. In keeping with the trend, we plan to organise CFG Food Carnival, where around 50 cooks and bakers will showcase their dishes, which will include traditional fare as well.”

Celebrating food

But before that, CFG is all geared up for its eighth anniversary celebrations on September 29 at Residency Towers, T. Nagar. There will be food... well, obviously, a quiz based on food, a stand-up comedy act and the launch of the food guide’s much-awaited website. Are we all invited? “Of course, if you love food this is an event you shouldn’t miss. Bring along an appetite and a sense of humour,” says Nishanth.

(The entry for the event is Rs. 999. For details, call 98403-40490)

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