In focus The Hyderabad Foodies are a vibrant bunch with whom you can explore the hottest eating joints in town

If you are a true-blue foodie, there is very little that can lure you away from food. This theory proved to be true last Sunday when 65 people showed up regardless of the hot sun to treat themselves to pan-Asian cuisine at Mekong. A closed group on Facebook, Hyderabad Foodies started out small, where people came to discuss about food, as the group discussion suggests, “of all kinds of tastes and shapes”. As of today, the group has more than 1200 members. The ‘closed’ attribute of the group gives a serious edge to the group and helps in avoiding the onslaught of spam. The group was started by Benny Sumer Yanthan, a PHD student at HCU; the idea was later picked up by Vargab Bakshi, a training specialist at Mart Jack. Another member, Vishnu Rao, but popularly known as ‘Sankalp, the foodie’ has been organising and co-ordinating the meet-ups.

Making friends

Initially the group was only about connecting online, sharing recipes, reviews and a spot where users could post their latest finds; all that changed for the better when they came up an idea of actually meeting up and enjoying a meal together. Thirty two people showed up at Ebony Boutique Hotel for the first time and the numbers have only gone up since. Vargab says that earlier it used to be about one meeting per month, but over time advertisers looking for customers have begun to help them in organising more meets. “Sometimes we meet more than three times in a month. Not everyone can make it to all the meets, but there is always a good number that does show up,” he says. Vargab claims to have made many friends thanks to the group, “Meeting people via food is great fun,” he says. Vargab joined Hyderabad Foodies because of his uncle and was soon voted as the administrator by other members. Sabhyasachi, one of the older members of the group often comes with his wife Mousumi and son, Soumabha to the meets and says, “People in our group have particular interests and are very knowledgeable when it comes to food.” He adds that almost every weekend there is a plan to meet and eat. Sabhyasachi’s son, SSabhyasachi points out that many restaurants and business owners have started approaching the group to try out their outlets. The Facebook page itself helps budding restaurateurs in advertising. Neomi Francis who runs a business along with her sister, Nymphea says that Foodies is popular because more people are connecting through social media than the brick and mortar way. Kamal, an ‘IT guy’ has made many friends thanks to foodies, “I want to get a taste of all the cuisines I can and meet all the people I can,” he smiles. Soumav studies in BITS Pilani and makes sure he comes to every foodie meet when he is in town.

Good for business

Sunil Indurthy of the newly launched Hazel Ice Cream Café in Gachibowli is organising a limited-seating foodies meet on March 30 for group members to come and try his ice-creams at a discounted price. “This way I get to hear actual feedback on the food and I can make changes if necessary,” he adds. Joydeep Majumdar, Executive Assistant Manager of Greenpark Hotels and a member of the foodies club feels that it is a symbiotic relationship that is budding. “Hyderabad Foodies offers a wide network of food-lovers who give restaurants a good word-of-mouth publicity,” he says. Vargab Bakshi however is sceptical and feels that an overdose of business might corrode the charm of the group, which is simply about a common passion for food but takes comfort in that fact that there is absolute freedom to be vocal about your likes and dislikes and no one is forced to write positive reviews on websites.

VISHNUPRIYA BHANDARAM

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