Food

Get gourmet on a budget

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Veekes and Company brings in Italian options like French onion soup and pepper pesto to the comfort of your kitchens

Looking to dig into some comforting pasta, but don’t want to head out and go through the whole shebang of restaurant dining? What if you could whip up a bowl of pasta, restaurant-style, right at home, minus the numerous steps? Or impress your date with an elaborate home-cooked meal without breaking into a sweat? Apparently you can, with this instant food line that has a variety of pastas and soups to soothe the hungry soul. Launched by 25-year-old chef Kavya Krishnamurthy, Veekes and Company offers options such as aglio olio, pepper alfredo, and cilantro pesto, among others.

If the name rings a bell, it is because Veekes and Company was originally a chain of budget-continental restaurants that launched in 2009. At their peak, they had 17 restaurants across four cities. “We had set out to do to continental food, what Chinese food is to Indians today. Good food and good music were what we were (and still are) known for,” says Kavya, “At the time, we had a central kitchen to maintain consistency across the board. This prompted us to think of launching a line of gourmet flavours with the same principles of consistency, affordability and accessibility.”

Get gourmet on a budget

The instant food line launched on a trial basis in 2013, before eventually completely morphing into a packaged food business in June 2018. Today, the company offers seven variants on store shelves: aglio olio, pepper alfredo, cilantro pesto, Mediterranean caprese, French onion soup, mulligatawny soup, and minestrone soup. Their USP is that their food is free of preservatives. “Being a chef by profession, I am constantly looking for ways to improve our existing range and bring new flavours to customers. I work closely with food labs and food technologists for this. At the same time, we want to make sure that our products do not contain added preservatives and we are looking at using freeze-dried technology to improve and expand our offering,” says Kavya, adding, “In the pipeline, we have a masala de inde pasta flavour, a lemon coriander soup, a new and improved pepper alfredo and Mediterranean tomato sauce; we hope, in time, to become known for a range of niche international packaged foods right from Vietnam to Italy.”

Given that the market is so saturated with instant food brands, what sets Veekes and Company apart? “If you look at our current range, flavours like French onion and aglio olio are unique to us; you will not find a pesto for less than ₹50 in this space. V&C sauces are a base for customers to build on to make a gourmet meal with ease. We encourage them to add vegetables and condiments to make it their own. It is not a snack. Furthermore, since our sauces are in the powder form, they require no preservatives, no refrigeration post opening and have a decent shelf life,” she says. Calling the venture a “complete family affair”, she says that the packaging was designed by her brother Athreya, a graphic designer.

She adds that the company uses culinary art and food technology to produce its range of instant food. “The products are made with dehydrated/dried ingredients, which allows us to develop shelf life without the use of preservatives. In time, we want to change the landscape of instant foods, as they are currently perceived largely as unhealthy snacks. Our products are manufactured at state-of-the-art certified factories close to Kochi,” says the Bengaluru-based entrepreneur.

Incidentally, Kavya holds a bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts, has worked at the JW Marriott Marquis, Dubai for three years, and is a member of the Emirates Culinary Guild.

The company currently supplies to over 30 restaurants and boutique hotels, as well as stock on store shelves. With a presence in five cities and on e-commerce sites, their packages are priced at ₹49.

“By March 2020, we want to touch a visibility of 500 stores (currently they are present in 120 stores). That apart, we plan to keep bringing out new products,” says Kavya.

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Printable version | Jan 21, 2020 5:24:42 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/life-and-style/food/veekes-and-company-kavya-krishnamurthy/article30459096.ece

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