What’s food without a good host! And how can one play a good host without the familiar chaos of one’s own kitchen, one’s own dining space?
COMMEAT, or "Community Eating", has clinched this simple idea to dish out something extraordinary. A cosy community of food lovers who also love to feed other foodies, it had its first get-together organised by Ayandrali Data, a resident of Noida, Sector 25. The event, delectably named "Maach, Misti, Masti – Bong Appetit!", turned out to be a huge success, and there has been no looking back since.
The dining table plays an important part in the life of Commeaters. It is where friendships are forged and conversations flow over the goodness of home-cooked food.
Founder Ruchika Mehta, who has been closely associated with the hospitality industry for 16 years, says, “Coming from a hospitality background, I was frustrated with the new-age media making every man jack out to be a foodie. The real foodies, or "culinaires" in COMMEAT lingo, are found in the simple kitchens of India. They are the ones who are passionate about food, whether in terms of cooking, knowledge or serving. They love to feed others as much as they love to eat or cook.”
COMMEAT was formed as a platform for locating foodies and introducing them to each other through the website. The site soon gathered a fan following and Noida became the first city to host a get-together. Ayandrali, fondly called Andy by her friends, was an ace host. Complementing her, Mehta says, “Ayandrali captured the essence of COMMEAT perfectly. She is known among her friends and colleagues as the food mother, the one who likes to cook and feed others. For COMMEAT food meets, the host is the most important cog in the wheel, and Andy became the perfect first host for the event, making everyone feel at home. She ensured that everyone relaxed and enjoyed with fellow Commeaters.”
All varieties of cuisine find their way into the COMMEAT menus — local, regional, international and even seasonal. It is perfect for travellers looking to sample local flavours and experience the culture around it.
“Community-eating cannot be organised in a community hall; it then becomes a party and not an exclusive food experience,” says Mehta. "It’s a fad these days to eat out every weekend, but what is lacking is the deep-rooted food connect and authentic taste."
The community meets up on weekends and the number of guests — which can vary between 6 and 10 — depends on the space available with the host. First, the COMMEAT coordinator pays a the host house a visit, tastes the food, and understands the food culture the host is planning to showcase. He or she then helps the host finalise the menu and the per-person cost of the platter. Once these details are in place, COMMEAT introduces the host to other foodies, who make a booking for the event and pay in advance. The host and the guests then interact socially at the event as a group of like-minded foodies.
The home "culinaries" are evaluated personally by the COMMEAT team, and the guests attending the event are vetted too. That’s the reason the community calls itself trusted. So far it has hosted one event each in Delhi, Noida and Gurgaon.
Shashank Arora, a Noida COMMEAT member, says, “It is a fantastic experience. The guests were great and the time spent is thoroughly enjoyed. The food at Bong Apetit, which I attended, was excellent. As far as cuisines go, I am an explorer and COMMEAT is a great place to start.”
“I enjoyed Bong Apetit, my first COMMEAT event," says Monika Bradoo, a COMMEAT member based in Noida Sector 36. "I was initially attracted to the idea of sampling an authentic Bengali meal, but I must say the whole event was wonderful. I spent a fantastic Sunday and had a great time learning about a new cuisine. I am looking forward to many more such savoury sojourns.”
Another COMMEAT member, Sameer Biala, adds, “Having a multicourse meal at home has its own kick. It is different experience altogether.”
“After the first successful COMMEAT event, the second experience involved a lot of brainstorming," Mehta says. "We wanted to bring something different to the table for the foodies. Our discussions with Ruchira Hoon, a known food commentator and menu curator in India, paved the way for ‘Saffron and Soul: Eat Your Way Through Persia". Persian home-cooked food excited us, and we were all sold out in just two days."
So now you know where to look if you are hoping for an explosion of authentic flavours without the formalities of a dine-out.
The COMMEAT dining table has been laid just for you.