Nothing brings people together like food does. We know, we work in food. It’s also the reason why most celebrations and festivals have food as an integral, if not the main , part of the celebration. Often, we end up cooking extravagant meals at home, calling people over and having a gala time. Other times, we head out, to the fancy new restaurant in town and order to our heart’s content, having a lovely conversation over fantastic food and heading home after. But what happens, when you want something different? When you want to create something together with your friends and family? When you want to form a bond over co-creating something special that not only looks good, but tastes good? Well, enter Something’s Cooking.
Something’s Cooking is the brain child of Satish Venkatachaliah who after working in the Corporate world for 19 years decided that it was time to have an activity in the city to bring together and form stronger bonds between people. We went by to Something’s Cooking and had a fascinating conversation with Satish. Here’s what he had to say.
1. Tell us about yourself before Something’s Cooking
I spent 19 years in the Corporate world. Most of my career was in HR where I was leading organisations in people function. I spent some years as a Business Head as well.
2. How did Something’s Cooking start?
Something’s Cooking started predominantly as a far more effective way of bringing people together. What we do at Something’s Cooking is get people to come together, cook together and have a meal together.
3. But don’t Corporates already have team-building activities?
When you look at the corporate world, everybody works in team. Lot of organisations invest in ways to get teams to work together more effectively. The typical approach they take is take people to an outbound activity. But these days the effective of this method has come into question because it removes the key element of consequence of non-participation. For example, take bowling. It’s a lot of fun but its very individualistic. You performing well on a lane has no effect on how I perform on a lane.
4. How does cooking differ from these activities?
When you look at cooking, it’s very interesting as a metaphor to what happens in the corporate world. When we work as teams, we create something that is completely different from the sum of the inputs. The same way, while cooking there is a lot of alchemy that takes place. The output from cooking is significantly greater than what we input. There is a transformation. And it’s irreversible. You can’t get chicken out of chicken biriyani. The second thing is that when you cook together you are co-creating something. It is also an activity that is a multi-sensory experience which research shows is a far more memorable than a uni-sensory activity.
5. When did you start Something’s Cooking?
I started this about 2 years ago. We were the first in the country. Outside the country, using cooking as a tool for learning and development is very prevalent.
6. Is it only for Corporates?
No. Not at all. We have individuals, families and friends come together to cook and have a meal together. We even have children’s birthday parties which is quite a hit among the tiny tots. We also have friends and family come together. In some cases, couples come together as a group and have spouses cook for each other. Once, 8 couples came and the husbands had to cook for the wives for the first time. We also conduct cooking classes.
7. How do you achieve this?
We have different formats and it depends from customer to customer. We have one simple format which is a set menu, maybe a three-course meal where the ingredients are pre-measured and kept and people just come and cook. It’s a lot of fun and quite simple.
The second is where we induce a lot of learning and development. This depends on what the customer expects as an outcome of the cooking exercise. Let me give you an example. Once, we had a customer who said that their nature of work is very dynamic and they wanted their team to realize that change is something they should be getting used to. So what we did, we asked the teams to pick what they would like to cook and then added a twist. The teams had to cook what someone else had chosen and vice-versa.
The third format is where we make the teams go through a MasterChef like competition.
8. Wow. How many MasterChefs formats have you conducted?
We have conducted several in this format. In fact, last year we conducted Kitchen Wars which saw 32 teams from 29 corporates come together for an inter-corporate culinary challenge.
9. How do you think the response has been?
It is really encouraging to see programmes. What is far more encouraging is that in the last few months we have had repeats from customers who have loved our experience and come back for more.
10. What were your biggest challenges?
Infrastructure wasn’t an issue. I knew what I wanted. But when you’re the first in the country, the biggest challenge is to get people to accept your service or solution as they are not able to visualize it until they walk into Something’s Cooking and go – wow, this is fantastic. It took us some time for people to understand that we were far more interesting solution that what they got right now.
11. What does the future look like for Something’s Cooking?
Exciting. I am looking at expanding being in 30 cities in the next few years.
Do drop by to Something’s Cooking for a fantastic cooking experience. Their price ranges vary from 1500 for birthday parties to slightly higher for cooking classes. Visit their website here for more details.